‘Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the men of Judea and all who lived in Jerusalem: “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus who you crucified”’ Acts 2.14
Crowds – remember them?
I don’t like crowds, on the whole – I’m the kind of person who used to go to Westfield super early in the morning to avoid busy shops. But even so when I read this passage from Acts I found myself pining for a big gathering. I love going to the seaside in the summer with my family, enjoying the sun with hundreds of other people. I love a summer barbecue with friends. Not this year – and no football matches, no Wimbledon, no music festivals. No crowds for any of us this year.
And our Gospel reading isn’t much better. A long walk in the countryside with a friend – now that I really do miss. Even a short walk in the park would be nice – but, like lots of our church community, my family is shielding because of family health issues. In order to keep everyone safe, none of us can leave the house, not even for the daily exercise most people are allowed.
It may only have been a few weeks, but in these days when the nearest we get to a crowd is a socially-distanced queue outside the supermarket, and a country walk is out of the question, these readings are a sudden reminder of what we have lost.
These readings come round every year, so we are very familiar with them, but I realise I am responding differently to them in these unprecedented times. But as well as noticing all the things I can’t do any more in the readings, I have noticed something else. I’ve noticed that these readings take us a on a journey. A journey which starts with great crowds in a huge city, then moves to a pair of friends walking together, going from the city to a village, and then, when they get to their destination, into a house, a room, a meal. A journey where the setting gets smaller and smaller and smaller – city, road, room.
But wherever we are in that journey – in the crowd, on the road, at the dinner table – God is there. Even if we don’t realise it. The trick is to keep our eyes open.
So where will you see God today?
Resources for your journey
I’m going to start with a piece of music, Abendlied by Josef Rheinberger. This is a beautiful setting of a text from our gospel reading; “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over”. I particularly love this version of it, done by a choir in lockdown – they all recorded their part at home and then their voices were combined and made into this video. Kind of a neat solution to the problem of not being able to gather in crowds – watch to the end to see out-takes of mistakes, babies and real life getting in the way!
And something a bit more recent – Sinach, Waymaker.
And lastly a short sermon from Bishop Rob for today’s Gospel.
Prayer for today
Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope: strengthen us to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
I will be adding prayer requests to this email every week, and we will also be praying for different people on the electoral roll and soon different streets in the parish. This week we pray for:
- Agnes ADEOSUN;
- Adenike Olajumoke AINA;
- Olutosin AKINREMI;
- Victor ALEXDROVIZ;
- Cornelius and Lily ALEXIS;
and all their families and loved ones.
If you would like us to pray for you please email me to let me know.
With my prayers –