United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough

Covid-19
Online Worship Opportunities in Dublin & Glendalough.

General

20.10.2020

Faith, hope and love – the new language learned from Covid–19 – Archbishop’s address at Dublin & Glendalough Synods

The Presidential address can also be viewed on our YouTube channel below.
Faith, hope and love – the new language learned from Covid–19 – Archbishop’s address at Dublin & Glendalough Synods - The Presidential address can also be viewed on our YouTube channel below.
Archbishop Michael Jackson delivers his Presidential address at Dublin & Glendalough Diocesan Synods. Also pictured is the Assessor William Prentice and the Archdeacon of Dublin, the Ven David Pierpoint.

The Diocesan Synods of Dublin & Glendalough are taking place online this evening (Tuesday 20 October 2020). In a first for the dioceses, members of synods are forgoing the hustle and bustle of the Synod Hall and are joining Synod from their own homes in every corner of Dublin & Glendalough as Covid–19 restrictions mean large gatherings cannot take place.

Gathering as the Synods of Dublin and Glendalough in the middle of a global pandemic and on the eve of the country embarking on Level 5 restrictions, Archbishop Michael Jackson posed a question in his Presidential address: “What is left, what remains?” His answer was: “Everything.”

Speaking to members from Taney Parish Centre, the Archbishop looked at the impact of Covid–19 on the well–known and well–loved words from 1 Corinthians 13: 13 – “There are three things that last for ever: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of the three is love.”

Turning to faith he said that over the past months many will have found themselves digging deep for faith in themselves, coming to terms with faith in public health advice as they were hemmed in by external regulation. Faith leads to a particular type of decision making and faithful decisions were the fruit of sustained prayer, he stated.

“We continue to pray that we make the right choices individually and nationally. We grow in faith as we see the future begin to unfold before our eyes and, what is more, unfold and flourish in other people. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we see ourselves developing a sense of public confidence once we realize that we are making these decisions of faith about things outside the religious sphere as much as about church things. Our decisions matter for the common good. This was a gift to us in the darkness itself because the churches were effectively closed. We were on our own with God,”

The Archbishop suggested that hope did not just relate to the future but could be found in the present. The absence of gathering hit churches hard, he said – gathering is the heartbeat of religion. Being apart and the reopening and then closing of churches again was hard on everyone. But people need to keep finding and sharing hope. “We need to keep making a ‘go’ of whatever it is we can do at any given time. We need constantly to find hope and to share hope and to give hope in the present,” he said. Archbishop Jackson said. Hope and purpose are also to be found in our neighbours and in our communities, he added.

The word ‘love’ in the time of Covid–19 became the love of life: our own life, the life of others the life and the wellbeing of everyone we know and those we do not know, the Archbishop said. There is also love for a Paradise Lost: loss of live and the world as we knew it. But he pointed out there was also Paradise Regained in the area of ecology. But there was also a reminder that while one thing is happening others continue – people die as a result of disadvantage and poverty; domestic violence and abuse continue or increase during lockdown.

The Archbishop looked to the love of the unknown. He said that while Covid–19 could never be described as an adventure in the conventional sense or an adventure that anyone would wish for, it was an adventure into the unknown. “At its simplest, we are learning that the language of fighting and conquering it simply is not going to hold. In another phrase of which we are probably now already tired, we are going to have to live with it. We are told that we need to learn to respect the virus. We had not budgeted for this – emotionally, institutionally, psychologically or financially. But we have to live with most things, ourselves included in the unknown present and future,” he said.

So what is left? “It is for us to get going, to get moving and to get gathering in whatever ways we can and whensoever we can. It is for us to get serving, get meeting and get equipping ourselves and others for the work of God in new circumstances – without a doubt – but this present and this future are both in our hands. What we do is our gift for today and tomorrow and our gift for everyone,” he answered.

You can watch Archbishop Jackson’s address in full here:

 The full text of the Archbishop’s address is below:

DUBLIN AND GLENDALOUGH DIOCESAN SYNODS ADDRESS 2020

Faith, hope and love – the new language learned from COVID 19

 

… There are three things that last for ever: faith hope and love; and the greatest of the three is love (1 Corinthians 13.13)

 

address by the archbishop

We stand this afternoon on the doorstep of Level 5.

We take words for granted. But they are the glue that holds together what we say. They provide the courtesy with which we say it. The sort of words that have come to the surface during COVID 19 have been quite different from our rush–about norm – words such as neighbour, kindness, gathering, household, indoors, outdoors – even words such as hygiene itself. So I began to think what the impact of COVID 19 might be on a set of words as well–known and well–loved as 1 Corinthians 13.13: There are three things that last for ever: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of the three is love. We hear it in many different settings. We take it for granted.

FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE

FAITH

Looking at faith: throughout the past months, many of us will have found ourselves digging deep for faith in ourselves, coming to terms with faith in Public Health Advice as we found ourselves and others, time and again, hemmed in by a type of external regulation that many of us had not felt since we left school. We will have found, however, that faith leads to a particular type of decision making and that faithful decisions are the fruit of sustained prayer. We continue to pray that we make the right choices individually and nationally. We grow in faith as we see the future begin to unfold before our eyes and, what is more, unfold and flourish in other people. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we see ourselves developing a sense of public confidence once we realize that we are making these decisions of faith about things outside the religious sphere as much as about church things. Our decisions matter for the common good. This was a gift to us in the darkness itself because the churches were effectively closed. We were on our own with God.

HOPE

Looking at hope: for too long I think I had seen hope as relating to something future. The protracted Lockdown and, again, The Easing of Restrictions have taught me that hope is to be found in the present. While St Paul speaks of hope as being in the things not seen, in Romans chapter 8, it does not necessarily mean that these things must be far away and over the horizon. Like many of you, I suspect, I have developed a rather different perspective on a phrase such as: having time on my hands because, in a very specific way, I found that I had time in my hands.

The absence of gathering hit us very hard and I applaud those who made on–line and other forms of gathering and communication happen so quickly and so authentically. Gathering is the heartbeat of religion. This is part of the reason that apartness has all been so very hard on us all. It is also part of the reason we remain mystified by what it is to be back in church and then to be out of church again. We need to keep making a ‘go’ of whatever it is we can do at any given time. We need constantly to find hope and to share hope and to give hope in the present.

… AND HOPE IN OUR NEIGHBOUR

Another focus of hope we found to be centred in our neighbour. It might be someone we knew all along. It might be someone we knew hardly at all and now know rather better. It might be someone who asked kindly after us. It was, in any event, someone with whom we had a new and a developing shared experience of neighbourliness. We received as much as we gave. The people who pioneered neighbourliness were The GAA. They organized themselves to help local communities to get food and essential medicines, to distribute through their own trusted contacts in the community, motivating every age group. Those who worked this through with them were shopkeepers – grocers and butchers – pharmacists and postmen and postwomen. This was a great wake up call to all of us inside the churches. We learned that, however globalized we are, Irish society is local and those who contribute directly to the life of the community mobilize and are mobilized locally. This community activity was, and remains, a wake–up call for the churches. And so many of us have responded magnificently. Our neighbour gave us purpose and hope.

LOVE

And the greatest of these is love … This love in the time of COVID 19 became, quite pragmatically, the love of life itself: our own life, the life of others, the life and the wellbeing of everyone we know and everyone we do not know. The second love I think was love for a Paradise Lost. This took many forms. The first is the loss of those we love through their suffering from the coronavirus and their dying. This is not a question of statistics. This is a question of people, one by one, name by name, who were here yesterday and who are not here today. The second is the loss of a world we knew, a world that knew us and a world that is substantially gone in the way we knew it. We felt we had the measure of it. It has now slipped through our hands. But there was a Paradise Regained in the area of ecology. During The Lockdown, we heard the earth and its creatures sing. We experienced a change in the quality of the air for the better. Ecology is a constant reminder that while, rightly, we are concerned about one thing, other things happen. Poverty is also a constant reminder that people die as a result of disadvantage and corruption and that diseases like malaria have not gone away and in parts of Africa are now on the increase. Domestic violence and personal abuse during The Lockdown are also constant reminders that while some people do not cope well with Lockdown, others have no option but to cope with the bad coping of others – destructively, violently, deadly. And always it is the vulnerable who go to the wall first and are pushed through the wall first. Another love is the love of simple things, things we have not heard or seen for many a day or year, things we had thrown to one side. All of us will have our own special memories.

LOVE UNKNOWN

The fourth love I would identify is love of the unknown. Suddenly, we became free to be obedient by grace. While COVID–19 could never be described as an adventure in the conventional sense, nor is it an adventure for which any of us wished in any sense either, it is an adventure into the unknown, however fear–filled. At its simplest, we are learning that the language of fighting and conquering it simply is not going to hold. In another phrase of which we are probably now already tired, we are going to have to live with it. We are told that we need to learn to respect the virus. We had not budgeted for this – emotionally, institutionally, psychologically or financially. But we have to live with most things, ourselves included in the unknown present and future.

MY SONG IS LOVE UNKNOWN

The hymn: My song is love unknown … brings us to the heart of the sort of love about which I think we are talking and about which we have learned more in the time of the coronavirus. From the mid–seventeenth century, the hymn takes us to Christ as the expression of love. And it takes us into communion, life in union with the suffering Christ as a true oneness with all of suffering humanity. It goes so far, in offering an answer to the question: What wrong had Jesus done to deserve his crucifixion? to say that it was in fact his goodness and his healing that did it – his making the lame to run and giving the blind their sight. If you stand back from it – an incredible statement but a dynamic focus of faith, hope and love. Jesus Christ was crucified for his goodness. The purpose of the love is also clearly set out: … yet cheerful he to suffering goes, that he his foes from hence might free. The role of such loving suffering is the freedom of our enemies, not even our friends as St John suggested. The hymn concludes with something that speaks to our situation: … Never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine … Love and grief are, and have been, two sides of the one spiritual coin. And COVID–19 has shown us this powerfully and painfully.

WHAT IS LEFT?

Gathering as the Synod of Dublin and Glendalough in the middle of COVID–19, we might ask: What is left, what remains? My answer is: Everything! It is for us to get going, to get moving and to get gathering in whatever ways we can and whensoever we can. It is for us to get serving, get meeting and get equipping ourselves and others for the work of God in new circumstances – without a doubt – but this present and this future are both in our hands. What we do is our gift for today and tomorrow and our gift for everyone. In the first chapter of the Acts of The Apostles, we are brought into the experience of the disciples as Jesus ascends. The words of the two men robed in white also ring true and sparkling for us today. They are a caution and an inspiration:

Men of Galilee, why stand there looking up into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken from you up to heaven will come in the same way as you have seen him go. (Acts 1.11) Inertia is not an option for the women, the men, the children of God. And we in Dublin and Glendalough must never ever forget our sisters and brothers in Jerusalem and The Middle East. They are The Children of Pentecost. They are our hope and our inspiration.

The return of The Lord is something about which we talk little. It has become an embarrassment in polite ecclesiastical society. Yet it is a core doctrine of the church. In preparation for this return, we need to work tirelessly for the Kingdom of God now. Circumstances have never been particularly congenial for this work.Circumstances today could not be described as particularly congenial – as we prepare to enter the protracted period of Level 5.  

A verse of Scripture we rarely hear may help us forward. It is from the next chapter, read less often than 1 Corinthians 13: 1 Corinthians 14.1:

Make love your aim; then be eager for the gifts of the Spirit, above all for prophecy.

This site uses cookies for general analytics but not for advertising purposes. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.