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12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

21st June 2020

Dear Friends,

At the centre of today’s gospel reading is an instruction. Many have been the people who, in trying to bind up the words and actions of Jesus into tidy sayings, have found themselves cheapening one or another aspect of his saving work. But these words today seem to speak to the heart of discipleship: do not be afraid. Such are the timid and faltering steps we take in our walk with God that such an instruction can cause as much bewilderment as it can comfort! Indeed, were not these the words spoken by the angel to Zechariah when told that his wife Elizabeth, in her old age would bear a son? And were not these the words given to Blessed Mary when she was told of her part in the plan of salvation, as well as to the disciples as they sat trembling for their lives in a boat? And, again, to the women who came near the tomb on the day of resurrection? Scant comfort, we might think, when life is changed irrevocably, or when we find ourselves in terrible and great danger.

And yet, as ever in the words of Jesus, we find more than an instruction: we find also a promise. As members of the household of Faith, and children of God, we take to heart the words do not be afraid because we have been redeemed through him who is the source and summit of the promise. Every day of our Christian life should, I think, begin as we wake from sleep with two brief sentences. The first, ‘I am baptised’; the second, ‘I will not be afraid’. How often do we forget these simple and profound truths! It is because of the first that we are able to say the second, and because of the second that we are able to live - fully - as those who have a home both here, in the middle of this anxious world, and in heaven. In contemporary composer Philip Stopford’s beautiful setting of these words, sung by the choir of Truro Cathedral, we are giving these very words: Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name: you are mine. Click here to listen.

In the third collect at Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, we implore God to ‘lighten our darkness ... and defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.’ As Psalm 91 reminds us, we should not fear the terror of the night, for we have made the Most High our dwelling and can say: ‘My refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!’. So a favourite evening hymn for today, which is itself a prayer: God that madest earth and heaven. You can listen to it here, sung by the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. Click here to listen.

With love,
Our Lady, S.Pancras and all the Saints Pray For Us
Copyright © 2020 Parish of Old St Pancras, All rights reserved.

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