Sermon given on the Feast of the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ on 1 July 2017 at Burnham Abbey 

From its beginnings in 1916 to this moment 101 years later we find ourselves gathered once again in continuation of our devotion to the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Physiologically the life stream which essentially oxygenates the body is taken up as our spiritual confirmation into the life of Christ, where we welcome the call to renewal of life in Community; inspired as Friends, Companions and today, especially, to be recalled in the full Oblate promise to be made by Beryl.

Working out what it fully means to be an Oblate will, in my ongoing experience, be something which will take more than a life time of spiritual hard word to comprehend. Yes rules can give a clue but being drawn into the stream of life both contemplative and prayer filled is teaching the person step by step, of the life of the water, spirit and blood.

This life in the Lord, for we confess that Jesus Christ is our Lord, flows into all of our life. In a recent homily I mentioned how the signs of the times, if we look, show us a love that exists in our world and which ought to be seen for what it is - Godís movement in and through the lives of ordinary people preferring a better way and to be celebrated by the Church for it. 

However, we are all too aware there are people who will spill blood to hurt and destroy and to terrorise. Yet there are also some people whose own Blood is spilt to save others (without any questioning of who they might be or whether they are deserving or not).  We may never know who or why this might be - the gift is given and our only response is to be humbled and brought to our knees in grateful thanks at the awesomeness of such an offering. If I may, I will take as an example just one of the incredible acts of selflessness during the recent London Bridge/Borough Market Terrorist attack.

British Transport Police Officer Wayne Marques stood between the destructive forces of those evilly intent on murder and mayhem upon innocent victims. He prevailed and his blood was spilt, his life - thanks be - was spared but we know not at what cost to him in the future.  

Today, more than ever, it is vital that we place the stories of peoplesí lives along side that of Jesusí life and suffering and his prevailing. Not because of any cultish piety but because it can help us once again to make some sense of what befalls us as human beings as a road  that is also travelled by Jesus and, in some life affirming way, comforts us and assures us of Godís love. That we are not left on our own in our struggles.

There was a time (the Book of Exodus reminds us), when people had the blood of sacrificed oxen dashed over them. That was the then time. We are on the now time in which Jesusí Precious Blood has the power to open us to a better way of living, loving one another and our neighbours. We have to find the way which speaks into our time about this more than ever before, each according to his or her gift.

Whether we be in lifelong vows or as a lay member of this Society of the Precious Blood, Jesus calls us by name into this life giving way. What happens in our world about us has the possibility of being a living revelation of our scriptures, not a just for the then time but for the now time and into our future with the Lord. The mystery of this Precious Blood I beg to offer can only bring us in awed gratitude and love and devotion to our saviour Jesus Christ the Lord, as we respond through the work of our lives as the people of the New Covenant, looking upon the One who was pierced, holding the cost of such love that was lavished upon all of us. Love for those who are near and for those who are still far off - freely flowing love. Precious and life giving, this gift of God in Jesus our Lord.

The Revd Sue Smith, Obl SPB