Saturday 19 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 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’

1 Corinthians 8:1

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

What do you think about when you hear of the ‘the sign of Christ’? Baptism? Ash Wednesday? Anointing with oil? More fundamentally, what comes to mind by the word ‘Christ’?

In our day, ‘Christ-like’ suggests quiet, meek, gentle, harmless and tranquil. This is where ‘Christ-like’ seems to sit in the English language.

However, for the ancient believers, ‘Christ’ was a word that bristled with strength. ‘Christ’ means ‘Messiah’. To be Messiah-like means to have a God-given power to save lives and change history; king-like to lead others and bring hope; to raise a standard to fight and prevail for the cause of God. This is the sign we are praying for. He is praying for a strength that comes not from man but only from heaven, an ability to bring change and mobilize others in campaigning for the Kingdom of God.

Our prayer is not a tranquil abandonment of self to what-will-be-will-be. Instead we can call out for the Spirit of God to strengthen us with power in our inmost being so that we can ‘fight the good fight of the faith’.

In the battles to which any messiah-like believer will be sent – whether the battle against one’s own sin and selfishness, or the struggle to do what is good and right in a secular and sinful world; whether the conflicts of family and church life, or the challenges of speaking and showing the grace of God – we need His power.

Whatever the battles, we need the power of God in order not to  be wasted or destroyed by them. The sign daubed in blood on the doorposts of the Hebrew houses instructed the avenging angel to pass over so that God’s children would not be harmed.

The sign of Christ on our forehead is our Passover signal. Everyone willing to bear the sign of Christ has God saying of them, ‘This one is mine. This house is sanctified.’ With such an assurance we can say with Psalmist, ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.’

You may be energised and stirred up – like a holy warrior who calls to God for the power to advance and prevail. Or you may find yourself so vulnerable that you can only hope for the danger to pass you by, as you call out to Christ for his peace and deliverance.

Our prayer speaks for both situations and both desires. Whatever your need may be today, you can pray with for the sign of Christ – the Messiah’s sign – to be on your forehead.

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