Uncluttered Time: 14 March

Engagement

"One can see them scattered in the desert waiting for Christ like loyal sons watching for their father, or like an army expecting its emperor, or like a sober house­hold looking forward to the arrival of its master and liberator."

Reading: John 6:44-51

44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Thought

Paula Huston tells this story of a visit she made to Jerusalem:

"Are you a believer?" My questioner was a seller of ca­shews at a corner stand in Old Jerusalem. Surprised, I nod­ded, but this was apparently not good enough. "Do you believe much?" he persisted.

"I do. I am a serious believer." Satisfied, he took my shek­els and handed me my bag of nuts. Later I wondered: what does this question mean in a place like Israel, where only two per cent of the population is Christian?

Did he think I was Jewish or Muslim? Did it even matter to him? After a few days in this remarkable place, I concluded that, political problems aside, it probably did not. For Jerusalem has to be one of the most spiritually charged places on earth, and what he really wanted to know was this: are you here to wor­ship the God we all share? Or are you simply here to gawk?

Each morning I woke to the muezzins’ ululating call to prayer. On Friday afternoons, devout Muslims in their finest clothes streamed out of the Damascus Gate after worship. At the Western Wall, Orthodox Jews placed folded slips of paper between the ancient blocks of stone, their foreheads touching the wall in reverence. Armenian monks in pointed black hoods moved their lips in prayer as they strode down narrow lanes, and shrouded Ethiopians made their devo­tions on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre. In the Old City, religion saturates each waking moment.

The modern secular world seems bleak beyond belief and how often, in this world of distraction, do we forget Jesus? Hence, the monastic practice of daily worship and its con­stant renewal of the connection to God. Worship replenishes our soul and nourishes our being. It answers the cashew seller’s question – Do you believe? – with a yes that is grounded in lived experience rather than in intellectual assent alone.

Action

Today, I will deliberately spend more time in worship.

Prayer

Lord make me aware of your presence today in just as richer way as when I worship will your people on Sundays.