Tuesday, 16 April 2019

‘Lord, where shall I find You?
Your glory fills the world’

A window ledge in the chapel in Dr Miley’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Tuesday in Holy Week

8 p.m., Late Evening Office, Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry.

Readings: Psalm 71: 1-14; John 12: 20-36.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

I said on Sunday (Palm Sunday, 7 April 2019) that during Holy Week this year, instead of preaching each day in Holy Week I hoped to read a poem to help our reflections during this Holy Week.

In our Gospel reading this evening (John 12: 20-36), it is Palm Sunday, and some Greeks are in Jerusalem for the festival of Passover. This year, Passover begins on Friday evening [19 April 2019], coinciding with Good Friday.

These visiting Greeks are trying to find Jesus. They approach Philip, whose Greek name indicates he may understand them, and they say to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’

Where do we see Jesus? Where do we find God?

So, my choice of a Lenten poem this evening is ‘Lord, where shall I find You?’, a translation by Rabbi Chaim Stern (1930-2001) from David Frischmann’s Hebrew version of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem Gitanjali.

This poem is in a book that I thought for the past two years I had lost in my moves between Dublin and this parish. Service of the Heart, was published in London by the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues in 1967, and the edition I have is dated 1969. I was delighted to rediscover it on a bookshelf in the Rectory in Askeaton a few weeks ago.

This is a rich treasury of spiritual resources, and later I often it often when I was a Reader in Saint Maelruain’s Parish, Tallaght (1994-2000).

One of the poetic prayers I have used on occasions, ‘Lord, where shall I find You?’, this translation by Rabbi Chaim Stern and David Frischmann of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali. It was also included in the Sabbath Prayer Book of the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation.

David Frischmann (1857-1922) was a Jewish writer, poet, essayist and translator. His translations include the works of Tagore, Goethe, Heine, Byron, Oscar Wilde and Anatole France.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a Bengali poet and the first Asian Nobel laureate. Two of his poems have become the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.

Dr Chaim Stern is regarded as the foremost liturgist of Reform Judaism. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and studied in Orthodox yeshivot as a child. But the Holocaust caused him to become far more secular than his family.

An outspoken political activist, he travelled to Mississippi to fight for civil rights as a Freedom Rider in 1961. In 1962, he became rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London. Although Stern returned to the US in 1965, he was back in London in 1967-1968 back, lecturing at Leo Baeck College and serving as rabbi of Westminster Synagogue. He was a senior rabbi in Miami, Florida, when he died in 2001.

He co-edited two prayer books for the Liberal Jewish Movement in England:On the Doorposts of Your House and Gates of Joy – and edited the new liturgy of the Reform movement.

Searching for books can be a spiritual joy. And the first resource I turned to when I rediscovered Service of the Heart was this Jewish version of Tagore’s poem about our search for God.

Prayer books and prayer shawls on a shelf welcoming visitors to the synagogue in Porto (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Lord, where shall I find You?

Lord, where shall I find You?
Your glory fills the world.

Behold, I find You
Where the ploughman breaks through the hard soil,
Where the quarryman explodes stone out of the hillside,
Where the miner digs metals out of the reluctant earth,
Where mean earn their bread by the sweat of their brow,
Among the lonely and the poor, the lowly, the lost,
You are with them in blazing heat and shattering storm.

Behold, I find You
In the mind free to sail by its own star,
In words that spring from the depth of truth,
Where endeavour reaches undespairing for perfection,
Wherever men struggle for justice and freedom,
Where the scientist toils to unravel the secrets of Your world,
Where the poet makes beauty out of words,
Wherever noble deeds are done.

Behold, I find You
In the merry shouts of children at their play,
In the mother’s lullaby, as she rocks her baby in the cradle,
In the sleep falling on his infant eyelids,
And in the smile that dances on his sleeping lips.

Behold, I find You
When dawn comes up golden, bearing gifts,
And in the fall of evening, bringing peace and rest from the
Western sea,
In the joy that flows from heaven with morning light,
In the current of life flowing day and night through all things,
throbbing in my sinews and in the dust of the earth,
In blades of grass beyond count, in every leaf and flower.

Behold, I find You
In the wealth of joys that quickly fade,
In the pulse of life that comes from eternity and dances in
my own blood,
In birth, which renews the generations continually,
And in death, knocking at the doors of life.

O my God,
Give me the strength never to cast off one in need,
Never to bend the knee before a haughty tyrant,
Give me strength to lift my spirit above the trivial,
To bear lightly my joys and my sorrows,
And in love to surrender all my strength to Your will.

For great are the gifts You have given me:
The sky and the light. This my flesh.
Life and the soul—
Treasures invaluable, treasures of life and of love.

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

John 12: 20-36 (NRSVA):

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ 35 Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Liturgical Colour: Red or Violet

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you sent your Son to reconcile us to yourself and to one another.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
you heal the wounds of sin and division.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
through you we put to death the sins of the body – and live.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day:

O God,
who by the passion of your blessed Son made
an instrument of shameful death
to be for us the means of life:
Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ,
that we may gladly suffer pain and loss
for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Introduction to the Peace:

Now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of Christ’s blood; for he is our peace. (Ephesians 2: 17)

Blessing:

Christ draw you to himself
and grant that you find in his cross a sure ground for faith,
a firm support for hope,
and the assurance of sins forgiven:

Hymns:

66, Before the ending of the day (CD 4)
218, And can it be that I should gain (CD 14)

Prayer shawls on shelves in the synagogue in Porto (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

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