sermon for St Jamesís Day, CRís day of foundation.
Not long ago a TV programme attracted huge numbers of viewers - it showed infra-red footage of badgers at night, going in and out of their setts, looking after their young and generally going about their lawful occasions. The badgers had no idea that Millions of eyes were on them.
I think of that I canít help thinking of ourselves. With the appeal and the refurbishment of the church we have discovered
how many eyes are on us. We have
been amazed at the donations, often from people we have never heard of.
We have been humbled by many letters telling stories about peopleís
indebtedness to the Community. We
have been made very aware of how many people look to CR for important things for
their life and do so with gratitude.
there were the protests Ė from people horrified at what we proposed to do to
the church. We had thought the
church was ours, we could do with it what we wanted and nobody would notice
much Ė when in fact this place is a symbol and an icon for many people.
shy away from all of this attention and quite rightly. We know only too well that we are unworthy servants.
few years ago a group of us visited some religious communities in Italy.
We found ourselves one day in a small community, listening to their
superior speak with some irritation about a big community in Italy which was always
grabbing the headlines Ė they saw themselves as a beacon on a hill, he
thought. I donít know whether in
fact they see themselves like that, or whether this was a little bit of
irrational vinaigrette but the last
thing we would want to be is people who see themselves as a beacon on a hill.
We are nobody and we know that is what we are to be Ė Christ is all
and we are nothing. We are to
decrease that he may increase.
would be a sad travesty of the life if we were to start promoting ourselves and
trumpeting about how marvellous the Community was. I think we have too strong a sense of how laughable that is for us to
have the cheek to do it anyway.
do we hold this need for proper humility together with the fact of being in the
spotlight? For it would be foolish not to recognise that CR is a beacon for
many, many people. The paradox is
that we have to recognise that.
old distinction between office and person helps us here. Even the Book of Common Prayer affirms that however awful the priest may
be as a person, the priest is still a priest.
the religious life we could say that however hopeless the members are, the life
is still the life. The living
tradition of the monastic life is a place where Christ makes himself known and
is bigger than the people who make it up. We
ourselves look up to that life, without claiming that we embody it. The life is a beacon on a hill despite us, the brothers who are seeking
to live it.
church building is a parable of that. As
architecture it is wonderful and a powerful inspiration to many, speaking as it
does of the mystery of God but at
the same time it is jerry-built from end to end. At the eastern end, the right wall does not align properly with the left.
In the nave, the floor was discovered to be jerry-built and had to be
taken out and replaced. The walls
are completely hollow and thin, which is one reason a chandelier crashed to the
ground in the middle of the night. This
building is both jerry-built and inspiring and, so it seems, is the Community
of the Resurrection.
are nobody and we can make no claims about ourselves without making nonsense of
the whole business and yet we are stewards of something mysterious and Divine. Something not of our
making but handed on through 2,000 years within a
profound world-wide tradition that is a channel of grace for many seeking to
eyes are on this place and unfortunately on us too. Even if peopleís eyes are arenít always directed at us, we are an
important presence at the back of many peopleís minds. We have been made very aware of
that and have to be real about it and
take it seriously, remembering as well that Benedict warns we are also under the
watching eye of God. Our responsibility is great - but the responsibility is so
to walk with Christ that we take seriously our role in his will for this place
and this Community, without totally forgetting we are badgers. That is the
balancing act, an equilibrium which only God by his grace can hold us in. Just as
with a pendulum or a pair of scales, the call is to live within Godís field of
gravity, if we are to be what he wills us to become in Christ for others and the
George, Superior CR