Third Sunday of Epiphany - Choral Evensong

  • Preacher

    Sub-Dean - Canon Michael Rawson

I wonder how you felt last Monday?

Maybe it felt like any other day or perhaps you were struck down by Blue Monday? The second Monday in January is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year due to the weather and the glow of Christmas and new year being replaced by the long haul ahead to the next holiday or celebration. The real cost of Christmas becomes clear as the credit card bills arrive and it’s not even pay day yet. Our New Years resolutions are long broken and forgotten and dry January has rapidly become wet, in so many different ways.

So that we don’t get too depressed by all of this, it’s worth noting that the happiest day of the year falls in the middle of June around Mid Summer. It’s no wonder the our Scandinavian brothers and sisters make so much of it. This year’s Blue Monday was, in fact, characterised by blue skies and sunshine. There’s a recognition too that we all need to take care of our mental health and well-being every day of the year rather than simply labelling one day as the most depressing.

The author of our first reading today addresses the rhythm and natural cycle of human existence. ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.’ There is a recognition of the often harsh reality of life – a time to die, to lose, to die, to throw away, a time for hate and war. All of this feels like the news and media of today and our experience of the global political situation. The author recognises and is realistic about the woes and wrongs of this world and yet with the same sentences also looks forward to the coming kingdom of God with the promise of inclusion, hope and peace. For we hear that there is also a time to heal, to build up, to seek for peace and love. 

This morning the Cathedral became a member of the Community of the Cross of Nails, a worldwide movement of reconciliation and peace that rose from the ashes of the destroyed medieval Coventry Cathedral during the blitz of 1940. Written on the ruined east wall of the Cathedral are the words, Father Forgive and they underscore the ministry of healing and reconciliation embodied at Coventry in particular and the Community of the Cross of Nails. Our membership of the CCN here at Southwark is a very practical step in seeking to face and address the challenges facing us of youth violence and knife crime, terrorism and a deeply divided nation. How can we respond as agents of love, reconciliation and peace? Becoming part of such a kingdom community points our world to a very different narrative. Speaking during his Christmas radio broadcast of 1940 Provost Howard of Coventry said, ‘We are going to try to make a kinder, simpler, a more Christchild-like sort of world in the days beyond this strife.’ This is the vocation of all who follow in the way of Christ. This is what we are called to live out here at Southwark.

I suspect that we will all approach this coming Friday, 31 January when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union with a whole different mixture of emotions and thoughts. For some it will be a relief and the beginning of a bright and confident future; others will approach it with sadness and a sense of bereavement. However we feel about it, the author of our first reading has the same message:

‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.’

And God will be with us whatever the future holds. As those seeking God’s reconciling love and hope in our world may the prayer of Dag Hammarskjöld be ours too

‘For all that has been, Thanks. To all that shall be, Yes.’