Speak Lord: in your faithfulness, keep us safe.

Gifts

The second reading on the first Sunday of Advent, this year, comes from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

And it is a rather welcome, encouraging reading, especially compared to the more testing and challenging readings of recent days and weeks.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ. I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

This reading too continues to sound the themes of the last day, the day of Judgement. But Paul is confident that those who have been graced by the Lord will be joined with the Lord here and now, and forever.

Why? Partly because he sees in those he addresses signs of the graces they have received from God, but also (and perhaps most importantly) because God is faithful, and God sustains his call to us, come what may. We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful and he calls us back to what is right and good and life-giving.

  • What are the graces you know yourself to have received through Jesus Christ?
  • What are the graces those closest to you – friends and enemies! – have received?

Give thanks and pray that through the Lord’s pastoring of his people those graces may bear fruit, and help deepen our readiness for kingdom-living.

Photograph is of the reredos and tabernacle of a side altar in the Cathedral, Granada, Spain. The gifts offered to the Lord by the three kings (and by us) are precious, but they are as nothing compared to the gift that the Lord is, and that is given to us in Eucharist. His gift gives us life. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Words of comfort and hope.

The Good Shepherd by Duncan Grant

The responsorial psalm for next Sunday, the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, is one of the most familiar passages of scripture – psalm 22 (23).

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

Psalm 22:1-6

What is it in this psalm that draws your attention?

  • The confidence of the psalmist?
  • The ready admission of reasons for fear, albeit protected from them by the Lord?

The psalm affirms the closeness of the Lord and the speaker. Indeed the psalm does little other than affirm and describe that closeness.

  • Why does the Lord love so? The psalm doesn’t tell us, but why do you think he does?

Bring your thoughts to the Lord in prayer.

  • Why – if you do – do you love the Lord?

Bring your thoughts to the Lord in prayer.

Photograph is detail of fresco by Duncan Grant of Christ the Good Shepherd. Chantry chapel in Lincoln Cathedral. Photograph (c) Allen Morris.