The giver and sustainer of life
Thank you for sending in pictures of how you see the Holy Spirit. There’s still time to respond. Click here to send your picture of how you see the Spirit of God at work in the world today. Today’s two images represent the Holy Spirit as giver and sustainer of life. Both are very appropriate as we now enter week 11 of ‘lockdown’! Appropriate too is the story of Elizabeth, who is filled with the Holy Spirit and Mary, who is carrying God’s Son. Reverend Susan Blagden’s reflection not only tells a story of blessing as those who are to bear new life, but also what this can say about being sustained in a place of shelter.
GIVER OF LIFE
‘When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth’. Psalm 104: 30
This lemon squeezer belonged to my Grandmother who I never met, just stories around her…
Brought into use during lockdown and now helpfully zings me into life each morning!
Has a chip in it but otherwise intact making me mindful of the words ‘take not thy Holy Spirit from us’
The Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
Cyn gynted ag y gallai dyma Mair yn mynd i’r dref yng nghanol bryniau Jwda lle roedd Sachareias ac Elisabeth yn byw. Pan gyrhaeddodd y tŷ dyma hi’n cyfarch Elisabeth, a dyma fabi Elisabeth yn neidio yn ei chroth hi. Cafodd Elisabeth ei hun ei llenwi â’r Ysbryd Glân pan glywodd lais Mair, a gwaeddodd yn uchel: “Mair, rwyt ti wedi dy fendithio fwy nag unrhyw wraig arall, a bydd y babi rwyt ti’n ei gario wedi’i fendithio hefyd! Pam mae Duw wedi rhoi’r fath fraint i mi? – cael mam fy Arglwydd yn dod i ngweld i! Wir i ti, wrth i ti nghyfarch i, dyma’r babi sydd yn fy nghroth i yn neidio o lawenydd pan glywais dy lais di. Rwyt ti wedi dy fendithio’n fawr, am dy fod wedi credu y bydd yr Arglwydd yn gwneud beth mae wedi’i ddweud wrthot ti.”
Luc 1: 39-45
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’
Luke 1: 39-45
Mary and Elizabeth (St. Mary’s Chapel, Wantage)
Reverend Susan Blagden writes:
This sculpture is found in the cloister of St. Mary’s Chapel, Wantage. It captures beautifully the tenderness and awesomeness of the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth. The church remembers this story each year on 31st May. Due to a conflict of festival dates this year, it is being moved to 1st June but it was too significant for us not to keep it! So what has this story got to say to us today who are not allowed to travel or visit family elsewhere?
There are two things that strike me as significant: one, is that Elizabeth feels something very normal in her body (her baby moving) and yet recognises that there is something deeper going on. From Luke’s telling of the story it would seem that Elizabeth had no idea that Mary was going to suddenly appear and ‘shelter in place’ for three months. Elizabeth knew nothing about Mary’s extraordinary news that she was going to be the mother of God. Yet despite all this apparent ignorance, Elizabeth notices that the baby in her own womb leaps on Mary’s arrival. There was something about the way in which this happened that led Elizabeth to realise that God was at work in both their lives. The clue to this revelation lies in Elizabeth’s attention to her own body.
Christianity is an incarnational faith, yet so often we simply do not pay attention to our own bodies – we push them beyond limits, choosing to skip food/drink/rest, and have lost the art of listening to the messages they are giving us. Elizabeth shows us differently. She invites us to be attentive to our bodies, not simply because that is healthy, but to do this with attentiveness, alert for the possibility that God may use them to speak to us.
Second, notice that Elizabeth’s attention moves her to utter words of blessing over Mary. In fact, it was a three fold blessing – blessed are you among women; blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus; and blessed is she who believed God’s promise. Wow! Blessed in her being, blessed in her doing, blessed in her believing. I wonder how Mary felt in receiving this three-fold blessing?! Hopefully she did indeed feel blessed! What a gift from the older woman to the younger one.
As we recall this story then, may we commit ourselves to being attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit, even in our own bodies, and may we be led to pray prayers of blessing, over those who are ’sheltering in place’ with us at this time.
trwy dy ras llawenychodd Elisabeth gyda Mair,
a’i chyfarch yn fam yr Arglwydd:
edrych â ffafr ar dy weision gostyngedig
fel, gyda Mair, y mawrhawn dy enw sanctaidd
a llawenhau wrth glodfori ei Mab ein Hiachawdwr,
sydd yn fyw ac yn teyrnasu
gyda thi a’r Ysbryd Glân,
yn un Duw, yn awr ac am byth. Amen.
Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru
by whose grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary
and greeted her as the mother of the Lord:
look with favour on your lowly servants
that, with Mary, we may magnify your holy name
and rejoice to acclaim her Son our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Church in Wales
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