THE CAT’S MEOW
St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope
The Sixth Sunday of Easter 17 May 2020
Art & Reflection May 17, 2020: The Sixth Sunday of Easter Artwork: Interior With Woman at Piano, Strandgade 30 (1901). Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916). Oil on canvas. Private collection. Reading: John 14.15-26 (printed below.)
JESUS SAID to his disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments. 16 I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you for ever, 17 the Spirit of truth whom the world can never accept since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you. 18 I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you. 19 In a short time the world will no longer see me; but you will see that I live and you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. 21 Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.’ 22 Judas — not Judas Iscariot– said to him, ‘Lord, what has happened, that you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ 23 Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make a home in him. 24 Anyone who does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not my own: it is the word of the Father who sent me. 25 I have said these things to you while still with you; 26 but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all Ihave said to you.
Like the mystics before me, I am beguiled by The Song of Solomon. Its painterly words evoke human love, its physicality and palpable presence. Yet a mysteriously elusive note haunts its lines as one lover speaks to the other:
My beloved spoke, saying to me: “Rise up, my darling; my fair one, come away. For see, the winter is past. The rains are over and gone; the flowers appear in the countryside; the season of birdsong is come, and the turtledove’s cooing is heard in our land. The green figs ripen on the fig trees and the vine blossoms give forth their fragrance. Rise up, my darling; my fair one, come away.”
Upon reading these lines, I am left with thoughts at once enticing and puzzling. If I respond to the lover’s request to rise up and come away, where is it that I will find myself? Presumably the lover who makes the request knows. Or at least trusts enough that a destination will reveal itself that the lover dares make the request of the other. Regardless of the answer we are left with a sense of erotic desire tinged with ambiguity, perhaps fear of abandonment. A reckless desire, yet one tempered by desire for security, to be realistic, for making the ineffable stand still.
Today’s gospel reading, the second half of Jesus’ farewell discourse, carries with it much of the ambiguity of the Song. Like the siren-like allure of the lover in Solomon’s song, it presents to those who rise up and come away the promise of a destination. But unlike the Song, that destination is fleshed out a bit. The destination is one’s own self in which Father and Son will dwell, an interior community of love. It is the getting there that proves difficult, puzzling, for Jesus’ listeners. For Jesus, as it turns out, is the most elusive lover of all. His love letter to his followers (for that is what the discourse is) is one that elucidates at once both an exquisite aching desire on the part of the lover (Jesus) for his beloved (the disciples), and the lover’s paradoxical elusiveness. Why does the lover say he must go away? And who is this spirit that will come in his stead? By the letter’s close, the disciples still don’t fully grasp what the lover Jesus has said. They won’t grasp it until well after the resurrection. And even then, Jesus’ disappearance will remain a subject for ongoing reflection. Easter it seems has not wrapped it all up.
In reference to last week’s essay, the spiritual life remains one in which we are prompted to move from one room to another in our interior castle, the castle Jesus prepares in us as a home fit for the dwelling of divine love. This is love stripped of sentimentality and of all the other qualities with which human beings alloy it: possession, control, need, narcissism. For Jesus to remain as the disciples wish him to (including Mary Magdalene at the tomb on Easter morning, “Do not cling to me…” Jn 20.17) would mean that they too would remain. They would remain the same. They would remain in that interior room where the alloyed love with which they are satisfied makes up the room’s furniture. For Jesus to remain means that the disciples remain too —in a room where what is, is good enough. “In my Father’s house there are many rooms,” Jesus says. Thinking about ourselves for a moment, not to leave the room we’re in— the one where we feel at least relatively comfortable—is to dampen the smouldering embers of great love. It is to avoid transfiguring union with God. Of being “oned” with God, our destination, the home that Father and Son ache to dwell in.
Hammershøi’s painting may be understood as a visual reflection on the elusive lover, the beguiling spirit, that leads us from room to room in the interior castle. In the foreground a table is partially set. In the background a woman plays piano. We wonder why the table doesn’t have more on it. Is a guest, a lover, expected? Is the woman distracting herself from preparing for the guest’s arrival? Was the lover present and she did not know it? Or has the guest been there and gone, allowing the woman to adjust to life amidst the new furnishings? We are reminded of the supper at Emmaus. Jesus, upon blessing and breaking the bread, disappears (Luke 24.30-32). Jesus the elusive lover. The beloved’s eyes opened. The ineffable that cannot be contained. Striking out to tell others. A new room is entered. RM+
SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2020
This week’s service leaflet is at the end of this issue – the service features two members of our Cantate Singers, Kate and Sarah, with Fr Randy leading the prayers.
FLOWERS THIS WEEK
We will print the dedications for flowers that would have been placed in the church each Sunday.
May 17: In memory of Charles, Jean and George Ashby, Florence Nightingale and Len and Ida Ashby from Gwen Duck
THIS WEEK’S READINGS
Should you wish to follow the Lectionary at home, here are the readings:
Acts 17: 22-31; 1 Peter 3: 13-22; John 14:15-21 Psalm 66: 7-18
Through The Cat’s Meow we can gather in the names of those who are suffering in body, mind or spirit at this time and for whom you have a special concern and we can each undertake to lift them up in prayer before God.
Let us have names by next Friday and they will be included in the next issue.
PENTECOST JACOB’S LADDER
Pentecost falls on May 31, 2020. Although it is likely that we will not be able to meet face-to-face by that time, it would be good to share your thoughts and lockdown experiences in Jacob’s Ladder. Please drop articles off at the church mailbox or electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org by May25.
Information for “Among Friends” can be provided directly to Claire Mowat (905 885 6695) or I will print your email and drop it in her letter slot.
A GIFT FOR FATHER RANDY
You are invited to consider making a donation in celebration of Fr Randy’s incumbency at St. Mark’s to either of the following charities:
- Doctors without Borders
- 551 Adelaide St. West
- Toronto, ON M5V 0N8
- Nature Conservancy of Canada
- 245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410
- Toronto, ON M4P 3J1
The bills keep coming in, even though we are shut. If you usually use your envelopes to give, please consider mailing in your donation or putting it in the mail box by the parish hall door.
Better still, change to PAR and avoid having to remember each month. It’s so easy!
invite you to a
SATURDAY, MAY 30th, 2020
Hors d’oeuvres 5 p.m.
Dinner 6 p.m.
$20 per person
Deadline for “tickets” – May 25th
STAY AT HOME. DRINK YOUR OWN WINE, EAT YOUR OWN FOOD!
NO WORK FOR US!
Cheques made out to St. Mark’s can be dropped off in box outside Parish Hall. (Tax receipts will be issued.)
GRATUITIES ALWAYS APPRECIATED!
If we get 40 people signed up, we will then do a SILENT AUCTION on EMAIL for those who are “attending”.
The Sixth Sunday after Easter May 17, 2020
St Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope, Ontario
Presider: Fr Randy D. Murray,
Members of the Cantate Singers, Kate (Officiant) and Sarah
Welcome and Opening Sentence
The Preces Smith of Durham
Psalm 89 Tone I.1
First Lesson – Acts 17.16-32
Magnificat Tone VIII.2
Second Lesson – John 14.15-28
Nunc Dimittis Tone I.4
Then shall be said the Confession of the Faith, called the Apostles’ Creed
I BELIEVE in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.
And after the Creed, further prayers will be sung, then:
OUR Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hymn 237 Now the Green Blade Rises
- Now the green blade rises, from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat arising green.
2 In the grave they laid Him, Love by hatred slain,
Thinking that He would never wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again like wheat arising green.
3 Forth He came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Raised from the dead, my living Lord is seen:
Love is come again like wheat arising green.
4 When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Your touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again like wheat that arising green.
THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.