Fourth Sunday in Lent

harp kneeler

Psalm 32

Blessed are those whose sin is forgiven:
whose iniquity is put away.

2 Blessed are those to whom the Lord imputes no blame:
and in whose spirit there is no guile.

3 For whilst I held my tongue:
my bones wasted away with my daily complaining.

4 Your hand was heavy upon me day and night:
and my moisture dried up like a drought in summer.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you:
and my iniquity I did not hide.

6 I said 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord':
and so you forgave the wickedness of my sin.

7 For this cause shall everyone that is faithful make their prayer to you in the day of trouble:
and in the time of the great water-flood, it shall not come near them.

8 You are a place to hide me in, you will preserve me from trouble:
you will surround me with deliverance on every side.

"…Then I met a homeless man in London,in Euston station. We were talking intensely: about life, about suffering. But about how wonderful and mysterious and incredible life is, too. We shared his bottle and my fish and chips between us. He had a very profound understanding — well, he'd been through a lot in his life. A lot of abandonment, betrayal, death… Every day I guess: waking up in the park, walking down the road into the city to be crucified by the state, by the crowds, by his self. We were very honest with each other. He shared a poem he'd written; recited it by heart with his eyes closed. I started to cry, it was so beautiful. I can't say what it was about, exactly. It was the way he spoke and sang it. Something in his broken, scarred voice. In his transfigured, life-lined face. It was like the poem was light and resurrection above all the pain and suffering — all the pain and suffering in the world. I turned to thank him but he had gone, disappeared. I saw him later, walking ahead of me; shuffling and stumbling through the crowd at King's Cross station.
Sometimes I recognise Christ in moments like that.

They say that Iona is 'a thin place': a place where the separation between the material and the spiritual realm is only tissue-thin. It's tissuethin everywhere I'm discovering: in India;in Euston Station;in hometowns; in lonely, desperate corner shops at drunken midnight…

Everywhere, I want to cry, and shout, 'Hallelujah — yes!'"

Neil Paynter, Lent & Easter Readings from Iona