Pilgrimage at Home – 7

Michael HutchinsonPilgrimage

A Royal Visit

A while after, King Egfrith and Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury travelled north with many clergy to preside over an important northern Synod. Their principle reason for holding this Synod so far to the north was to consecrate Cuthbert as bishop. Letters were sent to Cuthbert, telling him to come to be made bishop, yet Cuthbert struggled with his calling. He wanted to live a hermit’s life of prayer, not the public ministry of a bishop. He ignored the messages.

But the King was not so easily put off, and to the astonishment of all, the royal boat with its entire retinue, the Archbishop and local Bishops, with a very many clergy, set sail to plead with the holy man on the little island of Farne. Cuthbert watched his future approaching as the boats sailed inevitably towards him, not a little amazed at their willingness to travel even to Farne to persuade him. A tear trickled down his cheek, as he began to realise he was leaving behind his beloved Farne, the taste of the wind and sea, the touch of the Cuddy’s Ducks.

Cuthbert was asked to become the Bishop of Hexham, and of the great church there. Standing in his rough clothes before the royal retinue with all its finery, Cuthbert felt most uncomfortable. The very concept of a great church did not sit well with Cuthbert. He much preferred the company of the poor, the defeated, and the sick. Besides, Hexham was not near the sea.

It was Bishop Eata who eventually proposed that Cuthbert become the Bishop of Lindisfarne in his stead, while Eata would become the Bishop of Hexham. Cuthbert accepted, and was made Bishop on Easter Day in a consecration at York. How strange the vastness of the city of York was to Cuthbert, still reeling in adjustment following his time on Farne. Yet he began his new office with vigour, praying continually for his people, working the land with his hands, and studying the Scriptures as he had learned in the rule of Columba. He continued to teach by example more than by words, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. 

On one occasion, a group of women came bearing a man on a pallet, wasted away by a terrible malady. They stopped a way off, afraid of the reputation of this holy man, Bishop Cuthbert. But one came as a messenger, begging his help. Cuthbert’s heart broke for their plight, and went immediately to their aid. Seeing the crumpled man on the pallet, Cuthbert began to pray. He blessed him in a loud voice, making the sign of the cross over his ravaged body. Immediately, the sick man recovered his strength, got up, ate and drank, and returned home singing joyful songs of praise to the Lord God, his Healer.

Opening Prayer

God the Father, your will for all people is health and salvation.
We praise and bless you, Lord.

God the Son, you came that we might have life,
and might have it more abundantly.
We praise and bless you, Lord.

God the Holy Spirit, you make our bodies the temple of your presence.
We praise and bless you, Lord.

Holy Trinity, one God, in you we live and move and have our being.
We praise and bless you, Lord.

Lord, grant your healing grace to all who are sick, injured or disabled,
that they may be made whole.
Hear us, Lord of life.

Grant to all who are lonely, anxious or depressed
a knowledge of your will and an awareness of your presence.
Hear us, Lord of life.

Grant to all who minister to those who are suffering
wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience.
Hear us, Lord of life.

Mend broken relationships, and restore to those in distress
soundness of mind and serenity of spirit.
Hear us, Lord of life.

Sustain and support those who seek your guidance
and lift up all who are brought low by the trials of this life.
Hear us, Lord of life.

Grant to the dying peace and a holy death,
and uphold by the grace and consolation of your Holy Spirit those who are bereaved.
Hear us, Lord of life.

Restore to wholeness whatever is broken by human sin,
in our lives, in our nation, and in the world.
Hear us, Lord of life.

You are the Lord who does mighty wonders.

You have declared your power among the peoples.
With you, Lord, is the well of life
and in your light do we see light.

Hear us, Lord of life:
heal us, and make us whole. Amen.

Closing Prayer

O God, you entrusted to us the fruits of all creation so that we might care for the earth and be nourished with its bounty.

You sent us your Son to share our very flesh and blood and to teach us your Low of Love. Through His death and resurrection, we have been formed into one human family.

Jesus showed great concern for those who had no food – even transforming five loaves and two fish into a banquet that served five thousand and many more.

We come before you, O God, conscious of our faults and failures, but full of hope, to share food with all members in this global family.

Through your wisdom, inspire leaders of government and of business, as well as all the world’s citizens, to find just, and charitable solutions to end hunger by assuring that all people enjoy the right to food.

Thus we pray, O God, that when we present ourselves for Divine Judgement, we can proclaim ourselves as ‘One Human Family’ with ‘Food for All’. Amen.