The whole company of heaven
We seem to be living in a very strange ‘virtual’ world now, in which nothing seems quite real. The U3A group (University of the Third Age) to which I belong is experimenting with various ways of maintaining contact. Book groups trying a ‘Zoom’ group call, or members of the curry club all eating their meal at the same time in their own homes. All this is to try to maintain some sort of contact with each other. The parish is trying this on the parish website and Fr Simon has some short but excellent reflections on the St Michael’s website. Please visit these if you haven’t already done so at www.stmichaelspage.com/videos.
A few years ago, we had the Prayer of Stillness in St Michael’s Chapel which sadly had to cease. Martin Tunnicliffe, who was instrumental in starting and running this group, suggested we try a ‘virtual’ Prayer of Stillness during the Wednesday just gone. So, a small group of us - having been contacted by email previously with necessary information - took our time of stillness between 3pm and 4pm in our own homes.
Although we obviously were not physically together there was, in a very real sense, a feeling of being together, in that we knew each of us was contemplating and praying at the same time in our respective homes.
It is very regrettable that we are unable to come together to worship or pray, but it is important that we remember that as members of Christ, we are acting as part of His
Body in everything that we do. Even in our private prayers we are joined to the whole praying church. Luther had something useful to say about that in the simple instructions on prayer
which he wrote at the request of his barber who wanted to know how an ordinary working person could pray. He gave this bit of good advice:
‘Consider that you do not stand or kneel by yourself, but that all Christendom, or all devout Christians, are with you, and you amongst them in harmonious prayer which God cannot despise.’
In my own prayer life, although I occasionally use the modern ‘Daily Prayer’ my main staple diet is from the Book of Common Prayer. Here, the order for morning and evening prayer assumes that there is a congregation present. The fact that
I may be saying this office alone has never troubled me. It is a reminder that I am joining with Christians everywhere.
I find that a comfort, for not only am I praying in the midst of ‘angels, archangels and the whole company of heaven’, but my Christian brothers and sisters the world over are also with me in my prayer time.
Holy Week 2020