Maundy Thursday: 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.

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,
The sign of Christ be on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit be 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.

‘And let me belong entirely to God the Father’

James 2

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

   Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

If I am to speak holy words it will be my mouth that does the speaking. If I am to visit the sick, it will be my feet that carry me. If I consider the needs of another person, it will be my head that has done some thinking. The dedication of my body is no add-on to my service of God, because it is with my body that I will serve Him. Without it, I am dead. In short, my act of worship must be physical because I am physical.

Offering to God only my mind would be nonsense. To offer him only my soul would in effect be asking to die. It is precisely that overlap of mind, soul, spirit, will and body that makes us living human beings.  Our prayer intends that mind, body and soul will together be sanctified. As James says ‘I will show you my faith by what I do.’

Yet this is not a call simply to be an activist. For Christ said ‘Close the door of your room and pray to your Father who is unseen.’

Ours is a more holistic call. To aloneness and community, prayer and study, work and relaxation  Whatever my situation in life, I too must find such rhythm; balancing my time alone with God and my time in company; my time for work and my time for rest; my time in the Scriptures and my time befriending; my time in close community and my time in wider society. I too must find the right time for letting his Spirit rest on my forehead in silent contemplation and the right time for going and serving the good of God and of neighbour.

This is not complicated!  I am not required to be clever or sophisticated. It does not require me to be on a spiritual high or full of devout feelings. All that I am required to do is believe the words I am speaking, to believe that they express something that I wish to happen.  And so I repeat the prayer and agree with what I am saying.

‘And let me belong entirely to God the Father’