Welcome to S. Michael’s today as we gather to eat of the bread of life together and draw strength for the journey. We might readily identify with Elijah as he fled for his life into the wilderness. Elijah had produced a great victory over the prophets of Baal, but even with this display of the power of God he was intimidated by Jezebel. His terror was such that he even asked that he might die, as he sat under that solitary broom bush and fell asleep. He presents a picture of complete desolation and hopelessness.
Then an angel woke him and told him to get up and eat of the provisions that were laid before him. He did so, but then he lay down again. The angel came a second time, touched him and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”
That the angel came a second time to Elijah with more or less the same message is very significant. It reminds me of the part of the Spiritual Exercises of S. Ignatius which is called Repetition. This is where you go back to the same Scripture passage or reflection two and even three times, before you move on. The purpose of this is so that you may reach greater depth. This is where the spiritual food that sustains is likely to be found. In the midst of his despair Elijah experiences the providence of God, indeed he finds consolation.
It is important to know that desolation is not a sign of failure, indeed it is much more a sign of spiritual growth. We might not take off into the wilderness in a physical sense, but there are many ways to withdraw emotionally and spiritually without even leaving home. When we find ourselves under the broom bush alone we need to do the opposite of what we feel like doing. We might feel like telling the angel to get lost, and want to go further out into the wilderness. Instead we need to look around for the provision that God has made through his Word and Sacrament, and join in the worship and prayer of the Church even more.
In these weeks during which we reflect on passages from the great sixth chapter of John’s Gospel it can seem as if we are repeating things time and again. Yet if we stay with this journey we will discover food that will last not only for forty days and forty nights, but indeed for eternity.
Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky
• S. Michael’s Google Group: If you are not currently in this but have an email address and would like to be included (to receive Anglican e-Life and updates from the Bishop etc) please email Louise at email@example.com with your details.
• Christchurch City Mission: many are still struggling to cope in winter conditions. Please continue to bring food and other household items for the Inasmuch Basket. Clothing and larger items may be delivered directly to 276 Hereford St.
• Sales Table: in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
• Meet People of Differing Faiths: the parishes of St Albans and Merivale are sponsoring this opportunity at the Elmwood Bowling Club rooms. Sunday 9th August 4:00 pm Islam, next Sunday Baha’i and Sikhism.
• The Meditation Group meets Monday 10th August, 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
• Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Parish Trust meets on Wednesday at 5:15 pm in the school staffroom.
• Christopher’s Classics Lilburn in Context: Mark Menzies, Gretchen La Roche and Flavio Villani. Concert at S. Michael’s Wednesday 8:00 pm, door sales.
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 17 August. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• Anglican Living AGM: 26 August, 4:30 pm at S. Peter’s Church Hall.
• Christchurch City Mission AGM: 27 August, 4:30 pm at the City Mission.
• The Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
• Book Swap/Donate/Share with a Friend/Give as a gift: Modern books that you have enjoyed. Fundraising koha to Anne at the sales table. Books available in parish lounge during the week and in the hall on Sundays.
• Box lots of books are welcome at any S. Christopher’s Dove Book Shop.
• Three of the Oxfords will be singing with the choir on Sunday evening (9th August).