Thursday 17 March: Lent 2011

lent fp[3]

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 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 coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head’

Hebrews 11:35-12:2

35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Hebrews 12

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When we first sense the presence of God, our human tendency is to fall to the ground! On the island of Patmos, John fell at the Lord’s feet as though dead, but Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid, John, I want you to write for me.’

On Lake of Galilee, Simon Peter fell to his knees before Jesus, but the Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am sending you to catch men for me.’

And some of the Greek and Hebrew words we translate today as worship really refer to this instinctive falling to the ground. Yet when Ezekiel fell face down he heard the voice of God reply, ‘Stand up son of man, for I am sending you to speak for me’.

Yet when the Holy Spirit wished to speak to the prophet Ezekiel, he said, ‘Son of Man, stand up, I want to talk with you.’  God wished to speak to him man-to-man, head-to- head. In effect he is saying, ‘I wish to address you as a man; as a thinking, competent, able and willing person of understanding. I want to say to you something that you can comprehend and act upon. That is why I will speak to you face-to-face: to your mind and understanding.’

To stand in the presence of the King is an expression of royal acceptance. A conversation can now proceed. When a king stands face-to-face with his subject something significant is happening. That is why standing for prayer was the Hebrew way, the way of Jesus and the way of the ancient Christians.

If God’s words to Ezekiel, John and Peter reflect his heart towards humanity, then we must stand ready to have God’s words breathed into our lives. Just as Ezekiel, John and Peter had a special call to receive God’s revelation and communicate it to others, so do we.  The call is both to be disciples and to make disciples.

Our prayer is to ask the Father to grant me the same Spirit that he sent to his Son as he stood in the waters of the Jordan River. This Spirit who anointed and rested on Christ’s head sent him into the wilderness and anointed him to make disciples of the broken-hearted, the blind, the bound, the grieving and the wounded.

When I stand and say, ‘Let the coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,’ I will pray it understanding that I too will be sent. This sending will lead me to carry God’s love to others in the same condition. Confronted by such needs, my prayer becomes even more urgent. I will repeat this request again and again:

‘Let the coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head’.