Tuesday, February 9, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 9 Jan 2016

Jesus said to them, 'as it is written,“This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”' 
Mark 7.6

Many claim to be people of faith while little of the Way Christ taught is seen in their lives. If the Gospel is truly in your heart, living it is as natural as breathing.

Monday, February 8, 2016

prayer diary Monday 8 Jan 2016

When they got out of the boat people at once ... rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 
Mark 6. 54,55

It is the natural response of those who are unwell to turn to God. So too must we turn to God when in need; asking his healing or the strength to carry our cross.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

how the Transfiguration helps prepare us for Lent

May I speak in the name of Almighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Amen

Our Gospel reading today concerning the Transfiguration of our Lord is, I think, a particularly appropriate one for the final Sunday before Lent begins. One reason this is so is because this passage essentially marks the middle of the Gospel narrative. Before the transfiguration we have signs and miracles – Jesus essentially establishing who he is and from where his authority comes - and teaching . And after, while miracles and teaching continues, the context has changed; for our Lord has set his face toward Jerusalem and begun his journey there – a journey that will end with his passion. And Lent is for his Church very much a journey of remembrance, a spiritual journey where we walk with our Lord during that season to the place where he will be arrested, put on trial, tortured, crucified, and die.

There is also the fact that the story of the Transfiguration resonates very strongly with the accounts of our Lord's baptism. Again we have the voice from heaven declaring him to be the beloved Son; again we have the Holy Spirit, in the first represented by the hovering dove, here by the overshadowing cloud. And it is good to think of baptism at this time; for I am sure you all remember the original purpose of Lent. It was the time of final and special preparation for the catechumens of the early Church, those who were being taught the faith, to get them ready for the wonderful day when they would be baptised – a sacrament that was in those times administered only on Easter Sunday as a general rule. And so they would spend the forty days before in a time of prayer and fasting and other spiritual disciplines and exercises to prepare themselves for that great day.

It was quite natural, I believe, that others of their Christian family who were already baptised would wish to show solidarity with them in their joyful but austere preparations by supporting them by keeping this time of self-discipline with them. As time passed the Church recognised the value of this Lenten season for its own sake; and when the day came when adult baptism was rare and infant baptism the norm the keeping of Lent as a special season of preparation for Easter was commonly practised throughout the Christian world.

This resonance with our Lord's baptism also serves to remind us of what happened immediately after his baptism – his 40 days of fasting and temptation in the desert. It is on these 40 days that our own season of Lent is modelled. And this is particularly interesting, given Lent's association with preparation for Baptism. This is because, as you will of course know, that during his time in the desert our Lord faced Satan; and three times Satan tempted the Lord to turn from God to him, trying to use scripture to do so; and three times our Lord responded by not only rejecting Satan, but providing a scriptural reason why one should instead turn to God. So three rejections of Satan and three turning instead to God. And at baptism the candidates are asked a series of six questions; you, of course, know what they are, but let us hear them again, and the responses that candidates or their sponsors on their behalf make:
Do you reject the devil and all proud rebellion against God?
I reject them.
Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil? I renounce them.
Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour? I repent of them.
Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? I turn to Christ.
Do you submit to Christ as Lord? I submit to Christ.
Do you come to Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life?
I come to Christ.
And I am sure you will note that these questions are made up of three rejections of Satan; and three turning instead to Christ, the second person of the blessed Trinity.

With so many baptismal associations with the season of Lent, it is little wonder that Easter Sunday has always been seen as a day when it was particularly appropriate for the renewal of baptismal vows. Therefore, as you are reflecting during the time left to you as to how you will keep a holy Lent this year, it might be an idea this year to place yourself in the role of a catechumen of old: look again at the basic tenets of the Christian faith, consider deeply and honestly how you might live them out better, even as you ask God's pardon for your failings and his strength to do better; reflect daily on the baptismal promises that you will make again when the season is over; prepare yourself to make them well by the spiritual disciplines you practise during the season, keeping in mind the importance of engaging in a particular way those of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. I will try to assist you in those matters by going through, one by one, those promises during our Wednesday services during Lent. In addition, I would suggest it might well be of great benefit for each and everyone here to pray those questions and responses daily, meditating up them briefly about what they mean to you and how you should live out your Christian faith that day. Doing so is a great way to prepare for the glories of Easter morning, when you will make again those vows – and it is my prayer that all here will do so worthily and joyfully. Amen

Examin Sunday 7 February 2016

We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires, for death lies close by the gate of pleasure. Hence the Scripture gives this command: "Go not after your concupiscences" (Ecc 18:30). So therefore, since the eyes of the Lord observe the good and the evil (Prov 15:3) and the Lord is always looking down from heaven on the children of earth "to see if there be anyone who understands and seeks God" (Ps. 14:2), and since our deeds are daily, day and night, reported to the Lord by the Angels assigned to us, we must constantly beware, brethren, as the Prophet says in the Psalm, lest at any time God see us falling into evil ways and becoming unprofitable (Ps.14:3).

From Chapter 7 of the rule of St Benedict: On Humility

Saturday, February 6, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 6 February 2016

Jesus said to the apostles ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ 
Mark 6. 30

It is good for Christians to separate from the world on occasion. Some so that they may rest prayerfully from their godly labours; and others so that they must understand they must repent and turn again to God.

Friday, February 5, 2016

prayer diary Friday 5 February 2016

Herod said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’ 
Mark 6. 14

Evil though he was, Herod at least understood he had done wrong. In that way, in a fashion, he stands above many today who instead declare their evil good; and insist that others agree.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 4 February 2016

He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two … so they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 
Mark 6. 7,12

Christ called all to repentance because all are sinners. Few like to be reminded of this; but they must be, for if they do not understand this then they cannot repent; and if they will not repent, then how can they be saved?