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Walking in the Footsteps of Christ – Day 33

Walking in the Footsteps of Christ – Day 33

Friday after 5th Sunday of Lent

A Lenten Journey with the Rule of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis

These Reflections which take the Rule of the Third Order as their springboard, were originally published in Lent 2012 are being republished during Easter 2020 as a way of deepening our faith during the Covid19 pandemic which is affecting the whole world

To Read: 

From the Principles: 

The Second Note – Love (continued)
For this reason we seek to love all those to whom we are bound by ties of family or friendship.  Our love for them increasing as our love for Christ grows deeper.  

We have a special love and affection for members of the Third Order, praying for each other individually and seeking to grow in that love.  We are on our guard against anything which might injure this love, and seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged.  

From St Francis: 

True and Sincere Love
Blessed is that servant who would love brother or sister just as much when they are sick and cannot do anything in return, as when they are well and can. 

Blessed is the servant who would love and respect brother or sister as much when they are far away as when they are present, and would not say anything behind their back that couldn’t be said with charity face to face.     (Admonition 24 & 25)

lostmost when people deserveit least  

To Reflect: 

The phrase, ‘You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’ applies as much to the families into which we are born as to those families into which, by the grace of God, we have been born again.

I own up to not always working hard to develop a ‘special love’ with other Christians the-peacewhom God has called me to journey.  Some Christians are just so difficult to get along with.  Stilgoe and Skellern have famously sung about Mrs Beamish and, though it makes me laugh I do recognise her as one of those for whom I am called to have a special love!  Why is it?’ I ask myself, ‘That God called people like her to join this church?  I am sure we could’ I bargain with God,  ‘Get on a lot better if she worshipped at St James down the Road instead’.  A dangerous game, as the more I am tempted to behave in that way the more I find I become one of Mrs Beamish’s co-conspirators.

If I believe in a God who calls me to a particular way of ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Christ’ that means I am where I am and serving God with whom I am because that is the will of God.   This is an uncomfortable realisation.  Somehow Mrs Beamish is not simply a sister in the faith and someone for whom I am called to have a special care, but she is also God’s instrument to enable me to be more faithful!  To walk away from her, to choose to belittle the offering of service she makes, to decide that somehow she is less valuable than myself is to bring injury to the Church instead of reconciliation.  The quickest way to lose any grace of humility is to despise a fellow member of the Body of Christ!

Christians are a wonderfully diverse group of people and occasionally we manage to see the possibilities that God holds out for us when we learn to ‘Love one another as I have loved you’.  For me next week brings one of those moments.  The clergy of our Diocese will gather with our bishops at the Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds for the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday.  At that service we will stand together to recall the promises we made at our ordination and commit ourselves to bringing the grace of God to this generation.  During the service my prayer, for myself as much as for others, is simply that for one day we would all do what we have promised.  If we did the world would be suffused with the love of Christ.

The challenge Mrs Beamish and her circle of friends brings to the church is to teach us of love.  If we are to love the world beyond our church doors we must first learn to love those who inhabit our pews.  Prickly Christians are God’s gifts to us.  Being on a common journey with us they give us time to learn to love and, instead of storming off to St James down the Road resolutely come back Sunday by Sunday.  Not all of them say ‘Peace be with you’ some of them go to the other extreme and hug everyone – Br Colin Wilfred ssf used to remind me,  ‘The Peace is not bingo, you don’t have to get all the numbers’ – but every single one of our sisters and brothers is God’s gift to help us replace injury with reconciliation.

Who knows perhaps even our own tetchiness and awkwardness can be used by God to remould others and reshape us?

What is certain is that if we actively draw our brothers and sisters in Christ closer – even if it is hard work – we will find that our love for Christ grows deeper and even the Mrs Beamishes of the church wants that to happen.

The words to Mrs Beamish are at the bottom of today’s reflections and the song can be found on YouTube.


To Pray:

I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life.  I love you, and I would rather die loving you than live without loving you.  I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally.  My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.

Jean-Baptiste Vianney, Cure d’Ars

To Do:

Consider who are the members of your community who are difficult to get on with – How will you show them that you value them?

Consider how you make it difficult for other Christians to love you – What will you do to change this?

99 Words to Breathe:someone who'll watch over me

If the Lord looks at you, let it be with my eyes.
And if I look at you, let it be with your eyes.

And if your eyes look at me, let them look and
find fault with the Lord for letting me look with
your eyes.

If my eyes look at the Lord, let them see him for
what he is.

What he is, is your eyes looking at my eyes, seeing
you in them, them in you.

You are what I see when the Lord looks at me, and

I do not believe in the Lord.

(Frank McGuinness – poet and playwright)


‘The Principles’ are from the Rule of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis – this version amended for corporate reading by Andrew Dotchin
‘The Words of Francis’ are from ‘Through the Year with Francis of Assisi’ selected and translated by Murray Bodo – copyright © Collins Fount 1988
Prayers are from ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ compiled by Angela Ashwin – copyright © Zondervan 1996
‘You have breath for no more than 99 Words.  What would they be?’ were collected by Liz Gray – copyright © DLT 2011
These Reflections, ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Christ’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged

Mrs. Beamish

Mrs. Beamish stands in church expression calm and holy,
and when the organ plays, she mumbles hymns extremely slowly.
A pillar of St. Botolph’s, for twenty years or more.
She does the flowers at Easter and the brass work on the door.
But recently St. Botolph’s has gained a brand new vicar,
His name is Ken he’s single and he wants the hymns sung quicker,
And he’s introduced a custom, which Mrs. Beamish hates,
So she rounds upon the person next to her and clearly states,

“Don’t you dare shake hands with me, or offer signs of peace,
You lay a finger on me and I’ll call for the police.
Don’t whisper ‘Peace be with You,’ this is the C of E,
so bend the knee, say “thou” and “thee”,
and keep your hands off me.”

Ken tells us love your neighbour, and Mrs. Beamish sneers,
“I only love my neighbours if I’ve known them thirty years.”
Even when it isn’t Christmas, and he lets youngsters in the church,
He’s altered all the music after audience research.
They shout out “alleluia,” they don’t act like me and you.
The young women don’t wear hats and the young men quite often do.
They seem to like their hands enthusiastically wrung,
’til they turn to Mrs. Beamish and they feel her acid tongue,

“Don’t you dare shake hands with me, I don’t know where you’ve been.
You lay a finger on me and you’ll feel this tambourine.
Don’t whisper ‘Peace be with You,’ this is the C of E,
so bend the knee, say thou and thee,
and keep your hands off me.”

In the beginning was the word read out loud by Thora Hird,
Harry Seacombe then would scream, “Morning has Broken’ by a stream,
Now the organ’s gone for scrap, every vicar’s got the clap

Alleluia, Mrs. Beamish, Mrs. Beamish,
Alleluia, she’s squeamish, so squeamish.

“Don’t you dare shake hands with me, or turn to me and smile.
You’ll wake up spitting teeth out, face downwards in the aisle.
Don’t whisper ‘Peace be with You,’ this is the C of E,

You go just one inch too far,
You’ll end up wearing that guitar,
One false step in my direction,
You’ll need to believe in the resurrection,
so bend the knee, say thou and thee,
and keep your hands off me.” 

© Words by Richard Stilgoe

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