It was wonderful to join the community for their Eucharist for the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. The seating at the back of the church for visitors was full and we made a good sound as we sang the hymns and the Mass setting. The lovely chapel filled with incense and the sunshine played in the smoke making the church even more beautiful.
The priest, in his homily, concluded by saying ‘You may not believe in angels, but you can be angels – a defender of the weak, a bringer of good news, a healer, light in the darkness – you can be an angel and then we will be surrounded by angels.’ It was a powerful point. Earlier he had referred to the very passage that we were studying yesterday (was that pure chance, had he been tipped off or was it the work of the Holy Spirit?) and encouraged us to think about how we were living our Christian lives – angelic lives. It fitted so well with what we have been thinking about together and it has been wonderful that the theme has kept emerging in everything that we have done.
After coffee, to which some of the sisters came, we had our final meeting in which we brought everything together. Much of the discussion was about the benefits that the link brings to us, as communities and as individuals. What was very obvious was that people feel very much that it is an open, honest and loving relationship that has been built and it has been a blessing to both cathedrals. People appreciated that over this weekend there has been plenty of time to talk so that relationships have been further deepened. Those who had never been before on one of these weekends – and there are people from both cathedrals in this category – were full of enthusiasm for the link and what we have shared together.
What I also hope is that the conversation we had about a ‘Rule of Life’ will be something to which people return, as it really does help to get the essentials of the Christian life in some sort of order. It was good when one person said that she was going to put into her rule a commitment to pray for the link. Others really felt that this was a very positive thing to do.
At the end of the conversation we presented a gift to Ros Saunders. Ros has looked after the link with Bergen for many years and put a huge amount of time and energy into this weekend. So we presented her with a gift of Whitby Jet, something to remind her of a great visit here.
So, before lunch we went to the steps at the front of the Castle for a group photograph. The sun was still shining. It really has been a time of blessing and an encounter with the Living God as well as an opportunity to think together about how we ‘live God’. Perhaps the call to live an angelic life was an important one for us – not in the way that we often use the word angelic which is a bit sickly sweet – but in that real angelic way that we see in Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel – defender, messenger, healer, bringer of light. If we can minister in these ways then the world will be full of angels.
Christina Rossetti wrote a poem called ‘The Shepherds had an angel’ and the final verse is this
Nearer and dearer day by day;
Till I my voice unite,
And sing my ‘Glory glory’
With angels clad in white;
All ‘Glory glory’ given to Thee
Through all the heavenly height.
I pray that as we leave here that we my grow ‘nearer and dearer day by day’ surrounded by angels and supported by the prayers of Hilda and all the saints in bearing witness to the Living God.
your life gives life to the world;
live in us,
live in me,
may our lives reflect your life.