Week of April 26 – May 2, 2020
In this vision he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought “What may this be?”
And it was generally answered thus: “It is all that is made.” I marvelled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have sunk into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: “It lasts and ever shall, because God loves it.”
– Julian of Norwich
I think I have lived, off and on, with a kind of low grade depression throughout my life. It has been such a steady companion that I assumed it was normal. And for me, perhaps it is. It has only been in the last decade, with the rise of so much good material about mental health available online and the increased transparency in conversations around mental health, that slowly I have begun to realize, “Wow, I think this thing I experience has a name. Maybe it is not just ‘me’; maybe it is something I have learned to coexist with?”
One of the ways I have learned to live with this companion is the adoption of little phrases that I carry around in my heart and say to myself, sometimes in prayer, but mostly as I move through the day. There is a name for this practice, also – mantras! But for me, they are simply lifelines onto which I hold when the darkness gets a bit thick:
“Joy and sorrow, sharp as swords.”
“I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
“God is closer than my breath. Closer than my hands and feet.”
“All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
This last one was penned by Julian of Norwich, an English mystic who lived in the 1300’s during the Black Plague which first appeared in her city, Norwich, when she was six. The illness kept returning in waves over a 40-year period, killing half to three quarters of the population of her city. Not surprisingly, towards the end of the plague years peasants revolted and overwhelmed the city, which meant more death and violence for all. Julian was 30 when she, too, fell ill, perhaps with the plague. While sick, she prayed that she might understand and experience the suffering of Christ. On her death bed, after being given the last rites, she had a series of visions in which she encountered Jesus. When she recovered, she wrote them down, and then again, after 20 years of reflection, she wrote them down in a longer form. Her writings became the earliest surviving book to be written by a woman in the English language, The Revelations of Divine Love.
What image of Divine Love does she extend to us from this crucible of deep personal and societal suffering? What did she see of Christ as she lay on her death bed? How might these words companion us in our own suffering?
Julian saw something small, about the size of a hazelnut, laying in her hand. “What can this be?” she asked. “It is all that is made,” was the answer. Julian worried because it was so small and fragile. Might not this hazelnut, an image for creation, be lost or destroyed? The reassuring answer came: “It lasts and ever shall last because God loves it”. In this little ball she saw three things: “God made it… God loves it… God preserves it.”
She saw God as protector, lover, and preserver; and understood all wrath and violence to emanate from human beings, not from God:
“For I saw no wrath except on man’s side, and He forgives that in us, for wrath is nothing else but a perversity and an opposition to peace and to love.”
She did not understand why God in wisdom did not prevent the suffering that we, as humans, cause one another. Jesus spoke to her and said that it was indeed necessary, but that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
She experienced a maternal God: “Our Saviour is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.” A God who is holding us, caring for us, and will see us through to the other side of this dark night:
“God is our clothing, that wraps, clasps and encloses us so as to never leave us.”
In the midst of this crucible of social upheaval and personal suffering, she held out to the world the revelation of Divine Love that she had been given. And here, 700 years later, her words have comforted me during the course of my life.
In this season of resurrection, we are savouring things that bring us a sense of TOV, the goodness at the heart of all things. What revelation of Divine Love have you been given that is worth savouring? As you hold it out to the world, who might find refuge in your words?
Offering TOV: Special Covid-19 Support
This week, Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) shared that their field staff and global partners are beginning to see unfathomable hardship from Covid-19. Here are just a few things being reported:
Women in Bolivia are experiencing horrifically high rates of spousal abuse during this time of social isolation.
In India, pastors are being beaten by police for daring to venture out to offer care for their church members.
In refugee camps around the world, large-scale humanitarian aid has come to a halt as medical professionals have stopped attending to the needs of the sick and dying. Viral mass spread is imminent as social distancing is impossible.
Children in Rwanda and the D.R. Congo are not eating the one nutritious meal they usually would because their schools have closed.
Subsistence farmers in many countries are going hungry because they cannot leave their homes to attend to their fields.
CBM, together with the Baptist Forum for Aid and Development, are poised to engage in several large-scale humanitarian relief initiatives, including within Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon. A special COVID-19 fund for those who are most at-risk globally will allow CBM to respond to the many requests from global partners and equip local churches on the frontline of caring for those most vulnerable.
Southpoint’s The NET will be discussing our church involvement in this fund, however, personal donations to the CBM Covid Relief Fund can be made through e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org or through cbmin.org.
Through our participation in Southpoint’s core practices: Worship, Connection, and Care, God grows love in us and flows love through us, allowing us to “love God, love people, and love creation.
Sunday Church, Zoom at 10:00 am
Simplified Zoom worship for which liturgy booklets are available. Questions? Contact Karin, our administrator (email).
Fourth Sundays: May 24, Jun 28
No church! Plan to connect as Gathering Groups.
May 3 Southpoint Zooms
Forming and Filling – the Actions of Creativity, Gen 1:1-27
May 10 Southpoint Zooms
Abundance, Gen 1:11-31
May 17 Southpoint Zooms
Rest, Gen 2:1-3
May 24 ALL OUT
May 31 Southpoint Zooms
Spirit, Gen 1:1-5, Gen 2:4-7
Jun 7 Southpoint Zooms
Gen 1:26-28, Gen 2:15,16
Jun 14 Southpoint Zooms
Knowing and Being Known
Jun 21 Southpoint Zooms
Jun 28 ALL OUT
Men’s Virtually Bad Movie Night
Tuesdays @ 8:00 pm.
If you (or your child) would like to be involved in this, please contact Angela.
Fourth Wednesdays, 7:30 pm
May 27 Women Talking, by Miriam Toews
June 24 American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
Interested in joining? For a Zoom link, contact Katie.
During this season, we are encouraging Gathering Groups to stay in touch and be aware of each other’s needs. If you have a struggle, or an idea for ways to connect, please contact your gathering group. If you are in need of a group, or don’t know what group you are in, please contact Angela.
If you have a confidential prayer need, please contact John..
Drop-In Prayer Times
The people listed at the times listed below are holding space for and praying for our community. You are invited to call – please do!
Mondays 7:00-8:00 pm
– David M.
Tuesdays 3:30-4:30 pm
– Anne H.
Wednesdays 7:00-8:00 pm
Thursdays 10:30-11:30 am
– Anne Smith 778-878-4352 email
Contact Anne by email or text (778-878-4352).