Thursday 24 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.

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 smelling of the Holy Spirit be in this nose.’

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.

How close must you be to a person before you can smell them? In the not so distant past, perhaps a few paces. Downwind, you might smell them before you could see them! Today we are praying for that degree of closeness to God.

Some over the last two millennia have written of a wonderful aroma and sweetness sensed when in the presence of God. Such experiences will be remembered for a lifetime.

Here we are reminded once more that God’s presence impinges directly on the material world including our senses. God is immanent and reachable. It was with this in mind that Christians know that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’. At hand. Within reach. Touching our fingertips.

The Psalmist declared that neither physical light nor darkness could hide him from the gaze of God, nor could physical space put any distance between him and God’s loving presence. The Apostle Paul affirmed that we live and move and have our being ‘in Him’. Another ancient Father wrote that God breathes his Spirit ‘closer to you than your own breath’.

So, if we pray that our nose may discern God’s closeness, we may not be just using a metaphor. But neither are we trying to create a feeling or manufacture an experience. God’s presence is there in reality and that all I need to do in order to discern it is to stop and breathe.

Many early Church teachers, such as the desert Christians of Syria and Egypt, taught that if you desired to achieve such a quietness of spirit that the reality of God’s presence begins to confront you as something real, you should simply stop, sit and breathe. Then the God who is closer to you than your own breath will make himself known to your senses.

It is with hope, and stillness, we pray

‘Let the smelling of the Holy Spirit be in this nose.’


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