Friday 11 March: Lent 2011

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You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

This prayer comes from Fursa (died 650), an Irish monk who did much to establish Christianity in East Anglia [more].

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit on this head,
The sign of Christ on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

‘May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder’

John 7:37-39

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Our forefathers knew the patterns of tides and seasons. Their lives were wrapped up in the repeating cycles of seedtime and harvest, morning and evening, birth and death. Yet we know from their prayers that these Christians were not believers in a relentless, unchangeable inevitability. They knew that life events might have different outcomes: a harvest might succeed or fail; an illness might end in death or life; a family might prosper or fall; a pagan king might resist the Gospel or convert to Christ.

Any farmer can tell you that when left to God alone, a farm doesn’t do too well. It doesn’t sow itself, tend its own livestock or reap itself. It is only when human effort and God’s blessing are combined that the result is crops rather than weeds, healthy livestock rather than sick, and harvests rather than chaos.

Divine and human action can each alter the outcomes of life. By taking on the yoke of Christ, we choose to offer our own shoulder – in the belief that, when harnessed with Christ, we can labour towards good results.

Our faith is not about tranquil submission to some imagined, inevitable, what-will-be-will-be divine will but rather consists chiefly in a taking of personal responsibility for the (com)mission of Christ. The passion of this faith is shown in our steady lifelong devotion to following the ways of God.

Our prayer call us to devote ourselves to God, and lend our own shoulder to the cause and purposes of Christ: For the yoke of the Law of God to rest upon this shoulder.


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