Prayer for Liverpool
A notable feature of the current crisis and lockdown has been the number of posts on-line of virtual choirs and ensembles. I’m certainly impressed by the creative contributions that I’ve seen, and also am in awe of the techy folk who know how to stitch and ‘sync’ it all together. Mention should obviously also be made of those ‘off-line’ acts of community cooperation where people have stood outside their homes to join their individual efforts into one corporate one. Many of us have participated in the Thursday evening clap. I’ve also heard of on-street dancing, the ‘Sing Resurrection’ initiative on Easter morning and (and I think winning my vote for the most creative) the ‘Belper Moo’ at 6.30pm each day. (If you haven’t a clue what that is you will have to Google it.)
One of the relaxing pleasures that I have discovered in recent months is joining the Maghull Wind Orchestra, and re-connecting with my flute-playing. Sadly, it has been rather neglected for several decades, ever since I left a job in engineering (with evenings generally free) and turned my shirts around to become a priest (with evenings generally filled with meetings). So it’s been such a gift to be able to head up to Maghull and spend Tuesday evenings tooting along with a very enthusiastic and friendly bunch of local people who love making music. Naturally, the MWO is on hold for the moment – it’s very hard to practise social distancing when everyone’s blowing through their instruments and sharing germs around! I was delighted, therefore, to receive an email recently from them, inviting me to take part in a ‘virtual windband’ recording of a special piece of music. Following the instructions, I downloaded the ‘dots’ and located the link to a keyboard accompaniment and a ‘click-track’ (my new word for the week) to play along to. All good fun. Although we are all stuck in our homes, and very much not an ‘ensemble’ in the literal sense we can nevertheless, with a bit of help from technology, bring many ‘voices’ to sound as one voice.
It reminds me of one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith; that the church is one body but many members. The church may have many different expressions of faith and practice throughout the world, but we still proclaim, in the Nicene Creed, that the church is ‘one holy catholic and apostostolic’. St. Paul, writing to the church in Corinth nearly 2000 years ago – a church which was clearly riven with splits – reminds his readers, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). Jesus, on the night before his crucifixion held up bread at the Last Supper and said, “This is my body”. Then he broke it and shared it with his disciples to show that they too were invited to be part of his body, his brokenness and his resurrection. St. Paul, elsewhere in his first letter to the Corinthians says, “The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:16b-17). Christians have always believed that, wherever and whenever the Lord’s Supper is celebrated, by a great and mysterious act of God, we are all somehow part of the one body, and that body is Christ’s. Surely, at this time of all times, we need to hold on to that truth? We may be unable physically to gather for worship in our church buildings but, if we take Scripture at face value, we are still part of the one body. It’s as if some divine process has ‘synched’ us all together, blended our many offerings of individual worship into one great paeon of praise and adoration. It may not feel like that from your lounge or kitchen on an April morning in England, but in cosmic terms, that is what is happening! Like so much in our faith, we cannot begin to comprehend it, but perhaps it is something for which to give thanks to God this day as we seek to live out what it means to be ‘Christ’s body’ in these uncharted waters? We can surely also look ahead to the time when we can be visibly and tangibly ‘one body with many members’ as we meet to break bread together in this Cathedral and in other places of worship.
Well, if you’ve managed to stick with my blog this far, you may just be wondering what special piece of music it is that the Maghull Wind Orchestra had asked us to record? It’s a piece that is so significant for Liverpool, and with a particular poignancy at this time of year. It’s one that has the potential to speak to us in a fresh and powerful way as we chart our solitary journeys through the crisis caused by the Covid-19 virus. It contains a deep promise and one worth holding on to. As you may have guessed, it was “You’ll never walk alone!” And by a complete coincidence (honest, it is!), the video was released last night in a special broadcast for the Liverpool University Hospitals Trust as a ‘thank you’ to the NHS. You can view it here:
I so look forward to the day when I will once again be able to travel up to Maghull on a Tuesday evening to toot my flute in company with lots of fellow music-makers. I suspect that, when we do so, and play ‘You’ll never walk alone’, there will not be a dry eye in the house.
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