Wednesday 15th July 2020 Basis of Union 3 – Anne Hewling
St Matthew 11: 28-30
‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
The Church is catholic or universal because Christ calls into it all peoples and because it proclaims the fullness of Christ’s Gospel to the whole world. (3)
I spent my first six years on the little island of Rarotonga, part of the Cook Islands. My parents had ventured to these specks of land amidst thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean turquoise in 1952 as missionaries with the London Missionary Society (LMS). They served 18 years amidst various island groups of the South Pacific. It sounds like paradise and, in many ways, it was. But my dad wrote a book about it carefully entitled Not Quite Paradise to tell the world truths that, even on palm-fringed beaches of gleaming white coral sand, people are still people and life is still burdened with plenty of cares. Indeed, some of the places we called home are already being destroyed as climate change, increasingly violent hurricanes, sea level rise, ocean warming and ocean acidification work their lethal consequences to humanity’s greed and apathy.
The Gospel reached places like this because women and men, young and old, left our congregations and set sail. Many died on the way, or became martyrs for the faith. I cannot say these glorious words of ours with their universal vision without picturing such little islands thousands of miles away. And, of course, the churches that once sent missionaries only exist themselves because missionaries once came to where we now live, and first converts discovered a yoke that was easier than sin and death, and a burden of discipleship lightened by the constant presence of the Holy Spirit and held in the prayers of the risen and ascended Christ. We now live an interconnected life; the world made ordinary in the palm of our hands. This part of the Basis testifies to the abiding truth that there is, rather, something utterly extraordinary about naming ourselves sisters and brothers in Christ across all bounds of time and geography.
Lord, you have made a marvellous world,
rich in diversity, peopled with different cultures;
fragile and wonderful.
Thank you for loving it all so much
that you have come to call all creation home.
Give us deep trust
to lay down our burdens too
and follow you.