7 sayings, 7 prayers

candlesIn this Lenten journey towards the cross and empty tomb, I continue to be reminded that, whatever else the Gospel is, it is God’s story. That’s important to remember; it is difficult to remain detached from story, since by its very nature story beckons involvement. Eugene Peterson says that theology as story becomes a “verbal [act] of hospitality”,[1] leading us not “to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s.  God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves”.[2]

So in my Lenten meditation I have sought to see my story in God’s through contemplating Jesus’ seven sayings from the cross, and attending to some possible prayers that arise. Perhaps, amidst the pre-Easter flurry, you might also like to come aside and ponder with me.

  1. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do (Luke 23:34)
    How am I oblivious, Lord, to the ways in which I hurt, betray, dismiss, scoff, judge, malign, belittle, stymie, or show indifference to you? To others? What incarnations of ignorance does your forgiveness need to touch?
  2. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)
    What is your promise of deep fellowship for me? What is the shape of our communion into which you are calling me?
  3. Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother (John 19:26–27)
    Who are you giving me to care for, Lord, to become as family? Who have you given as carers for me?
  4. My God, My God, have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34)
    In what ways am I experiencing your absence? Where do I wish you would just show up, God? What am I to do with this sense of abandonment?
  5. I thirst (John 19:28)
    What does your raw humanity, Jesus, mean for me? For my physicality? Whose thirst are you calling me to quench? What am I deeply thirsty for?
  6. It is finished (John 19:29-30)
    What has your cross, Jesus, ‘finished’, moved on, dealt with in my life? What remains ‘unfinished’?
  7. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)
    How is your consecration to the Father becoming my own? In what dimensions of my life is your love further wooing my unfettered devotion?

[1] Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2005), 5.

[2] Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2006), 44.

 

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International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, 2nd or 9th November

 

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The experience of Christians in Nigeria, Syria, and Iraq in recent months has highlighted the persecution faced by many Christians around the world. In fact, it has been estimated that over 100 million Christians face persecution each year, with over 80% of global religious persecution targeting Christians. [1]  Many of these believers refuse to stand in silence for the name of Christ and, as a result, suffer physically and mentally for their faith.

This coming week allows the global Christian community to focus on the persecuted church through an intensified focus on prayer.  (More information can be found at http://idop.org/en/.) How might we seek to participate in and respond to this in the affluent, Christian West?

We can stand with the persecuted church through connecting with relevant, participating agencies such as Open Doors, Bible League, Voice of the Martyrs, Barnabas Fund, and Christian Faith and Freedom.

We can pray for them regularly.  Amongst other things, we can pray for those who are experiencing persecution to have courage, as Paul enjoined the Ephesians to do for him in Ephesians 6:19.

We can advocate for them in the public square, which is even more important when secularization impacts the worldview of Western societies and limits the human response to their plight.

We can learn from them about courage, especially going into a Christmas season when the pressure to remove aspects of the Christian message and replace these with the St Nick/Santa narrative continues to intensify.

May we not be bystanders who stand in silence, but instead practically respond to the challenge of Hebrews 13:1, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

[1]                  Prayer Slides, WEA. http://idop.org/en/?attachment_id=4022