Tuesday 5 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 be 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

James 2:14-18

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.

How often we prefer to offer other people’s hands, or the imaginary hands of “the Church”. We can hear the call of Christ to serve the needs of others and declare, ‘Yes here is something "the Church" should be doing.’ We condescend to agree with Jesus and say ‘If "the Church" would do something about this, I would support it.’

So when Jesus tells us to visit those who are sick or in prison; or have to dinner the poor and unwanted and those who cannot return the favour; when his word commands us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and welcome the foreigner and refugee, we say ‘Yes and Amen; "the Church" should indeed do these things. I would sup¬port "the Church" if it did.’

This is why history counts as the great people of faith not as those who suggest great works, but those who do them. When we read the Scriptures there is no-one who needs to obey the things commanded before ourselves; no-one further up the ladder; no abstract concept of the Church.  ‘Here I am. Send me.’

Each morning, through this prayer, we stand before God expecting that some new task might be asked of us as we encounter the Scriptures afresh.

On first hearing, this line of prayer might sound grand and ambitious: ‘the work of the Church of God in my hands’. Now we realise it is really a humble act of self-offering: the promise of daily obedience to the Lord.

It is with that simplicity of faith that I can pray aloud:

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


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