This homily was given by Mark Lyon, a final year ordinand, at Evening Prayer on Monday 7th March 2011;
A church service is basically aerobics in slow motion. You have to get up, get down, come forward and turn around, all to background music with a kind of Mr Motivator figure out in front. You even get your own mini-aerobics mat hanging on the chair in front.
While these words are quite comical they nevertheless have an element of truth about them. Within the Catholic Church, the liturgy is designed so that there is air of constant movement and direction; different postures, whether we are on our knees, standing or sitting prepares us for the different parts of our worship. One of my favourite icons – Rublevs Trinity – shows us the importance of movement, while the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are seated somewhat stationary there nevertheless is a movement of activity – the activity of Creation and Redemption. What we do physically thus prepares us for what we must do spiritually. Mind, Body and Soul, while different are nevertheless one.
On Wednesday of this week we enter the very important penitential season of Lent. All of us I’m sure have either decided or thinking about what we are to give up, however, it is important to remember Lent is not a time to deny ourselves as a form of punishment. It is a time when we realign our lives back into the loving relationship with God that he has ordained us to have. The things we give up, therefore, should always have this focus. If we give up something the time or money we save should be put to good purpose. Whether that is time for extra devotion or money to a charity the essential part to this penitential season is to deepen the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father.
Lent is a time when the movement in the Liturgy, must affect and shape the movement of our life. Guy Browning talks of the physical movement in Church services being aerobics in slow motion – Lent is the time for our spiritual aerobics. A time when we exercise our relationship with God to strengthen ourselves so that whatever life throws at us – we have a sure foundation of the Hope, Love and Charity that has been given to us on the Cross.
On Wednesday we begin our journey to Golgotta – we carry our Crosses, in order that they can be transformed by Christ’s forgiving and redemptive love. It is the same love that not only redeems but brings us to the point of redemption. Jesus does not leave us to carry our own Crosses but he carry’s them alongside us. It is his work in, with and through us that enables us to say on our Good Friday his final words – In to your hands I commend my spirit.
The giving up or taking on something for Lent is a painful task but it is a task that we must undertake if we are to experience the joy of the resurrection. By ensuring that we engergise our spiritual lives in this way will enable us to witness to the world, of God’s redeeming and transforming love. In so doing we can just perhaps with true humility utter the finals words of S. Paul from our second reading tonight “And they glorified God because of me.”
Heavenly Father, Alone with none but thee,
I journey on our way;
What need I fear, when thou art near
O King of night and day.
My life I yield to thy decree
And bow to thy control.
Thou art our trust, O King of kings
We make this prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ who liveth and reigneth with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen