Wednesday 30 March: Lent 2011


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 vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes.’

Romans 12:1-4

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Today I am to ask God to enable me to see all things – my own life, the lives of others, the life of the world – differently.Why shouldn’t I pray these words without expecting God’s answer to do far more than merely alter my perspectives in some academic kind of way. If God answers he will surely upset my very understanding of things, overturning my own order of priorities and values.

In the letter to the Romans I am told that it is through seeing things differently – having a ‘new mind’ – that my whole life will be transformed (‘metamorphosed’, to use the Apostle Paul’s word).

Such a change of view has to lie at the heart of my on-going life of repentance, for unless I see things differently why should I live any differently? The motivation will not be there.

Early Christians saw themselves ambassadors of heaven. They rejected the view that: ‘Because I was born at this place in this time, and was schooled in this way, and grew up in this family, and was brought up in this society, I see things in such and such a way.’ They longing to be enlightened by God’s own wisdom from eternity – spoken through the ages to the prophets of the Old Testament and, supremely, through the words of Jesus. Jesus’ words were to be encountered afresh every day.

In our day, by contrast, we often try to recreate Jesus in our own image. We say, ‘If Jesus had come today he would surely say something like this . . .’ and then we give what is our own perspective. But this is no path to God’s revelation. If Jesus had been born where I was born, had been schooled where I was schooled; if he had been raised in my family, grown up in my home town and country and watched and enjoyed all the same television programmes that I watched, then it might be reasonable to expect him to believe exactly what I grew up to believe.

But that is simply not what happened. That is not the story of the Word made flesh. The real Messiah, the Jesus Christ of history, was born in Bethlehem and was raised the son of Mary of the Tribe of Judah. He was rooted in a specific time, in history, on earth, in a place, with a family. This Christ, the Messiah of history, grew up and lived in Nazareth, then preached throughout Judea, dying and rising again on Calvary Hill in Jerusalem.

The teaching of Christ area both from heaven and from history, firm and unchanging.

So our prayer asks that God’s voice will transform us rather than the other way round.  Our prayer is for a heavenly vision to inspire me to want what my God and Saviour wants and do what he desires and loves. When this is our motivation we find ourselves truly seeing eye to eye with the very people of heaven.

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