Monday 11 April: 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.

‘May the work of the Church of God be in these hands’

Ephesians 2:4-10

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Today I am to ask God to entrust me with the Church-building work of God’s choosing.

Our prayer was crafted by Fursa in the sixth century.  Six hundred years later, his life was redrafted in a new biography. This Reinvented-Fursa was said to have been selected, trained, ordained and licensed by his own great-uncle – the famous Saint Brendan whose authority was beyond any question or doubt. The Reinvented-Fursa was shown to be a very junior relation of the local king. Now recreated, Fursa fits nicely into the structures of the twelfth-century Establishment. Fursa becomes a fine, obedient citizen, compliantly following orders in meek subjection to the political chain of command of Church and State. He is made to endorse a particular pecking order among bishops feuding for power some six centuries after his time. This is a sanitised ‘Saint Fursa of the Holy Establishment’. 

Our Fursa, the Fursa of history, was a bold, radical, Gospel-loving, self-starting missionary. He’s was a simpler mind-set by far. He took his direction from his God and set himself to doing precisely what the Holy Spirit asked of him – just as Bede later recalled – preaching and planting ‘wherever an opportunity should offer’.

Jesus once answered some famous detractors who felt disturbed by his own boldness in acting outside the Jerusalem Temple’s chain of human command. He said, ‘John’s power to baptise – was it given by God or man?’ No-one accused Jesus of making a false dichotomy. The answer was clear.

Likewise, we too look to God to entrust us directly with opportunities of divine work. I must declare my desire to no longer be a spectator of God’s works. As the Scripture says, it is he who prepares in advance the works for me to walk in. It is to God, therefore, that I address these words:

‘Let the work of the Church of God be in these my hands.’