Prayer for Liverpool
Imagine my delight when, having only just arrived in Liverpool last summer, I learnt that a rather special ‘lady’ was due to grace Lime Street Station with her presence. Accordingly, I set my alarm clock for rather earlier than usual on a Saturday morning and wandered down to Platform 10. There at the end, surrounded by admiring photographers (in those far-off halcyon non-socially-distanced days), was a stunning steam locomotive – 6201 Princess Elizabeth. Replendent in her original LMS livery she gently hissed and exuded clouds of steam from various parts of her anatomy - like a great slumbering dragon, waiting to take off. The sight, sound and smell of her departure into the tunnel at the station mouth was something to behold!
I have long been a fan of trains – even from childhood. Aged 7, my birthday present was a small 0-6-0 ‘Jinty’ tank engine, a few trucks and a circle of track. I was hooked! Aged 11 a friend took me to the local station train-spotting and I was captivated. I saved up my pocket-money for Ian Allan books of numbers for diesels, diesel multiple units (DMUs) and electric multiple units (EMUs). In later years, having lost the fascination with ticking off numbers, I developed more of an interest in the technology of railways and how they fit with the social and economic history of this country and much of the world.
It is a cliché that many clergy are either interested in cricket or trains, or both! I have no idea why this should be. I ventured a theory on the clerical train-geek phenomenon, when preaching on Pentecost as a Curate (an apprentice Vicar). Namely that in the third chapter of John’s Gospel Jesus said that his followers should be baptised in both water and the Holy Spirit. A symbol of the Spirit is fire; add fire to water and you get…steam! I don’t think that my training incumbent, nor the congregation, were totally convinced!
I am pleased to say, however, that there are other train fans at Liverpool Cathedral, and not only middle-aged blokes like me. Indeed, one of our enterprising younger female members has just completed a tapestry of a pair of Class 504 EMUs traversing the iconic ‘Besses O’ Th’ Barn’ bridge on the Manchester to Bury line. Well done Catherine! Her aim to is help raise funds for a local preserved railway.
So, where exactly am I going with this blog? Well, to be truthful, I am really missing trains at the moment. I love travelling by train whenever I get the opportunity. Usually that has been for ‘work’ and very few months have passed over the years when I haven’t used a train to get to somewhere for a meeting or a service. I had felt some virtue in using public transport rather than my own car, it has also to be admitted. I also like train-travel because it gives me space to think and work – whereas in a car one’s concentration should fully be on the road. So to be told deliberately to avoid using trains, and buses, wherever possible, seems very counter-intuitive. That I cannot do all that just underlines to me how deeply the impacts of the current crisis have cut.
So no attempt at a deep spiritual message from me today – unless you can find one hidden in there somewhere (answers on a postcard if you wish!). Rather I am simply sharing a longing for a return to train-travel before too long, and all that goes with it! And a hope that we will, as many of us as possible, re-embrace the usage and funding of our public-transport with even greater verve . I, for one, will never take it for granted again. Thinking about it, though, perhaps there is a spiritual dimension to this? Something less tangible that speaks to at least some of us. Something that the likes of 6201 ‘Princess Elizabeth’ sparks in us. And maybe even a class 504 EMU!
While you're here:
Why not prepare for next Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of this website: https://www.prayerforliverpool.org/prayer-resources.html.
Prayer for Liverpool
brought to you from Liverpool Cathedral
St James Mount
Liverpool Cathedral is a place of encounter.
Built by the people, for the people, to the Glory of God