Friday 18 March (Revised): 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 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 sign of Christ be on this forehead’

Matthew 10:32-33

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Fursa, who penned our prayer, was a monk. His head was distinguished by a severe haircut.  His hairline shaved right back to a straight line drawn from ear to ear. This haircut stretched the forehead to the crown of the monk’s head. This extended forehead meant her was instantly recognisable.  He belonged to Christ, and he belonged in a very specific way. It signalled that he lived in a brotherhood, given over to a life of study, manual work, prayer and missionary activity.

Jesus commands every Christian to make their own profession of faith something public: ‘He who acknowledges me publicly I will acknowledge before my Father in Heaven ‘Those who reject me publicly I will reject before my Father in Heaven.’

Faith is not a private or passive spirituality but a virile and bold faith.  We can be proud to wear the name of Christ.

Often we define our identity by explaining our relationships with others:

• I am a pastor because I shepherd others in the flock of Christ.
• I am a teacher. I teach others.
• I am a manager. I manage others.
• I am a psychologist. I study others’ minds.
• I am an accountant. I keep accounts for others.
• I may be a mother, a father, a son or daughter, a husband, a wife, an apprentice or a supervisor.

Sometimes we hesitate to be public with our faith in case inadvertently we identify ourselves with some portion of Church culture or Church history that might give cause for embarrassment. But what our prayer asks is that I might publically stand in solidarity with Christ. I dare not to offer less when I pray:

‘May the sign of Christ be on this forehead.’