This is the final Reflection at BBC Cambs Faith Show’s guest for a month. Hoping to be able to return again in the Autumn to chat with Pam Mungroo about the exciting work I am doing now involved in helping the church and the community it serves to flourish in the modern world.
The reflection is 20 minutes into the programme.
Cheered, perhaps even heartened by the sound of Great St Mary’s bells, I found myself standing once more in this ancient building and this time feeling almost as old as her. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the number of people pleased and surprised to see me back at church. I had been home from hospital about three weeks and wanted to return to church as soon as I could.
I was touched the week before by the way that Dr Revd. Peter had offered to bring communion to me at home and the way he made a temporary table out of the ottoman in my sitting room. A beautiful and intimate experience in domestic surroundings with a true “companion” – remembering the origin of the word being, ‘with bread’, and so someone you share your bread with.
But back in Great St Mary’s on that winter’s day I realise that the walk and indeed the week had taken more out of me than I first thought. Having stood for the first hymn, I then sat for the rest of service. It felt strange to be participating in a different way. To have my view blocked of the altar as the last supper was reenacted and celebrated.
A couple of weeks later I was standing with the rest of the congregation for the hymn when I was suddenly overwhelmed by it all: the pain; the expectation; the uncertainty, then the tears flowed and I crumpled down on the pew. The person next to me, in their kindness, sat with me and gently placed their hand on my shuddering shoulder.
I realised later that Jesus was surely in that moment, as much as He was in the breaking of the bread that I couldn’t see for all the folk standing. In my weakness He shared. With and in my pew mate, He quietly comforted me.
Vulnerability and weakness are perhaps not very popular right now and as some recently have sought to present an image of strength and stability, I wonder if we pay a little more attention to brokenness and empathy with those that are, we all might be a little better off.
Leading up to Easter, I stayed for an hour or so of the night vigil that followed the Maundy Thursday Service. As I sat in the chapel, beautifully lit by candles, it felt right that my eyes grew heavy and thoughts wandered. I felt in solidarity with the first disciples, who needed rest and left Jesus alone to pray, as I left in need of sustenance and sleep. In my healing state, perhaps I felt a little more attune to their vulnerability and fear.
The following day at the Good Friday reflections on the cross, at a personal level, in some small, but very tangible way I felt more connected to that darkest of days. Suffering more than on previous years, when I went up to the looming cross where the altar normally sits, I knelt and instinctively touched my heart and the wood in front of me.