Wednesday 6 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’

1 Thessalonians 2:6-12

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

The Christian life is not designed for the heroic loner or the rugged individual (although exceptionally someone may be called to such a life). The truth is that everything called to do, we do as a member of a community.  Our story is actually the story of a whole group of people with whom we journey. In this sense our prayer for God to use our hands almost always implies the the presence of a group of fellow believers.

In the Church we speak at times of giving and receiving ‘the right hand of fellowship’. This kind of offering of hands is essential to our community-based work because hands are a symbol of relationship. Hands to help, support, comfort, bless, reassure, gesture, guide, beckon, greet and embrace: these are the kind of hands that are needed to hold a band of believers together in a life of community and discipleship.

As I now offer my hands, I am invited to consider with whom I am standing as I pledge myself to God’s service. With whom am I offering to labour in serving the Kingdom of God? Whom will I be supporting, blessing or beckoning in order to see that the Church of God grows and its members remain bound by cords of love and friendship?

Though I may take my stand before God each day as an individual, I am reminded that, in pledging my hands, I must expect to labour within the shared context of a community of believers. That is the very meaning of the word ‘church’.

Therefore consider who it is you need to stand with as you ask the Lord that:

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