11 June 2023
Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (14) 11 June 2023
Today is the First Sunday after Trinity (11 June 2023). The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today also celebrates Saint Barnabas, Apostle (11 June), although this festival may be observed tomorrow (12 June), and Saint Mary and Giles Parish in Stony Stratford has transferred the celebration of Corpus Christi from Thursday (8 June) to this morning.
Later this morning, I plan to be in Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton, for the Parish Eucharist. But, before the day begins, I am taking some time for prayer, reading and reflection.
Over these few weeks after Trinity Sunday, I am reflecting each morning in these ways:
1, Looking at relevant images or stained glass window in a church, chapel or cathedral I know;
2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.
My photographs this morning (11 June 2023) are from Ely Cathedral, whose formal title is the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. This year, Ely Cathedral is marking 1,350 years since Saint Etheldreda first established a monastery in Ely in the year 673.
Ely Cathedral and its towers rise above the low-lying wetlands of the Fens, so that it has long been known as the ‘Ship of the Fens.’ It is said the cathedral can be seen from almost every parish in the Diocese of Ely, which includes most of Cambridgeshire, parts of Norfolk and Essex, and one parish in Bedfordshire.
Ely, with about 15,000 people, is the third smallest city in England and was only recognised as a city in a royal charter in 1974. The Isle of Ely remained a separate county until 1965. Saint Ethelreda (Audrey), an Anglo-Saxon princess and Fenland queen, founded an abbey on the Isle of Ely in the year 673. The Diocese of Ely was formed in 1108 out of the See of Lincoln, and the monastery became a cathedral in 1109.
Ely Cathedral is cruciform in shape and for its time was a model of symmetry. The nave, at 165.5 m (537 ft) is the fourth longest cathedral nave in England. The Octagon or ‘Lantern Tower,’ which replaced the central tower, is a unique structure and the glory of Ely Cathedral.
The main transepts were built at an early stage, crossing the nave below a central tower, and are the oldest surviving parts of the cathedral. Building work continued throughout the 12th century, when the western transepts and tower were completed under Bishop Geoffrey Ridel (1174-1189) in an exuberant Romanesque style with a rich decoration of intersecting arches and complex mouldings.
The Galilee or entrance porch was added under Bishop Eustace (1198-1215) in the Early English Gothic style. Under Bishop Hugh of Northwold, a new east end was begun in 1234, with a grand 10-bay structure. His chancel was completed around 1252.
The free-standing Lady Chapel was built in 1321-1349 in an exuberant Decorated Gothic style. The niches were once filled with an extensive sculpted cycle illustrating the life-story of the Virgin Mary, but they were damaged during the Reformation and the Lady Chapel was stripped of all decoration.
The great Norman crossing tower collapsed in 1322, damaging the first four bays of the Early Gothic choir. These bays were rebuilt, and the tower was replaced by the Octagonal Lantern. Although it is supported on eight massive masonry piers, the lantern is built from oak timbers. When it was completed in 1340, the Octagon was the largest crossing span in northern Europe and it remains Ely Cathedral’s most distinctive feature, visible for miles across the Fens.
At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the cathedral suffered only minor damage, but Saint Etheldreda’s shrine was destroyed, many of the statues in the Lady Chapel were severely damaged, and Bishop Thomas Goodrich ordered the destruction of all the mediaeval statues, painting and stained glass.
Ely Cathedral has undergone several major restorations: under James Essex in the 18th century; under George Peacock in 1839; under George Gilbert Scott, when the painted wooden ceiling of the nave was decorated by Henry Styleman le Strange and Thomas Gambier Parry; and in 1986-2000.
The Victorian Gothic architect AWN Pugin was once found weeping in the Lady Chapel, disturbed by the destruction of its beauty. But he was inspired by the Octagonal Lantern Tower later when he was designing the chapel for the Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Dublin.
Modern works of art in the cathedral include Jonathan Clarke’s sculpture, ‘The Way of Life’, Hans Feibusch’s ‘Christus’ (1981), and David Wynne’s sculpture (1967) capturing the moment when the distraught Mary Magdalene meets the Risen Christ on Easter Morning. But Ely’s most controversial modern work is David Wynne’s statue of the Virgin Mary in the Lady Chapel. Robed in stark blue, she is rejoicing in the news that she is to be the mother of the Christ Child.
The Bishops of Ely include the Caroline divine Lancelot Andrewes (1609-1619), who oversaw the translation of the Authorised Version of the Bible, and Matthew Wren (1638-1667), uncle of Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London (see 9 May 2021).
Stephen Sykes (1990-2000), one of the most eminent Anglican ecclesiologists, was Dean of Saint John’s College, Cambridge, Professor of Divinity at Durham and the Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge before becoming Bishop of Ely.
Many of the early monastic buildings survive to the south of Ely Cathedral, so that Ely has Europe’s largest collection of mediaeval monastic buildings still in domestic use. They include the Porta or great gateway to the monastery that now houses the library of the King’s School.
Matthew 9: 9-13, 18-26 (NRSVA):
9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 12 But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
18 While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ 19 And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. 20 Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, 21 for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.’ 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well. 23 When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, ‘Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26 And the report of this spread throughout that district.
The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Opening the World for Children through Learning.’ This theme is introduced this morning:
‘The Estate Community Development Mission (ECDM) was set up by the Church of Ceylon to support tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka. The church has a long-term commitment to advocacy work amongst Sri Lanka’s plantation communities, seeking legal rights for tea plantation workers and their families.
‘The ECDM grew out of this. USPG has supported this programme since 2013. The ECDM seeks to serve all plantation workers, irrespective of religion, caste or ethnicity. One key aspect of the ECDM’s work focuses on the children of tea plantation workers, ensuring that they have access to a good education, preventing them from having to enter the labour market at a young age.
‘The programme runs five pre-schools, catering for 120 children. It provides extra coaching and guidance to children to enhance their knowledge and social skills and integration; at present, 163 children benefit from the programme in this way. The programme also conducts seminars for students preparing to sit major school exams.’
The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (11 June 2023, First Sunday after Trinity) invites us to pray:
We pray protection over all your children.
May they experience childhood in its fullest,
able to sing, dance, laugh and learn
safe and loved.
the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
we thank you for nourishing us
with these heavenly gifts:
may our communion strengthen us in faith,
build us up in hope,
and make us grow in love;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
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