Taste and See: Loved better

Work in progress

The second reading on Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent in Year B, came from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

Ephesians 2:4-10

When we prepare for confession we identify and count our sins. It is sometimes to prepare on the slant, as it were, by looking at the good and the better. Counting our blessings helps us also take note of the places of shadow too.

  • Where and when has the Lord been merciful with you?
  • Where and when has he brought you to life and raised you up?
  • What good work has God shared with the world in you and by you?
  • What good work will you share with the world today, by God’s grace and through your love?

Carving by Unity Spencer (1950), installed as memorial to her parents Stanley and Hilda Spencer, in Cookham parish church. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Quieten my mind so I may hear

 

Risen Lord, Cookham parish church

The responsorial psalm sung at yesterday’s Mass  asked us to listen to God. And did so with some urgency, and rather with the presumption that yesterday, (and maybe on many yesterdays) we had not been listening! Imagine!!

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come in; let us bow and bend low;
let us kneel before the God who made us:
for he is our God and we
the people who belong to his pasture,
the flock that is led by his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

O that today you would listen to his voice!
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test;
when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Psalm 94:1-2,6-9

How insistent and how debilitating can be the inner voices we hear. Those conversations we have with ourselves – what we would say, what we should have said…

The psalmist calls us to a certain stillness that we might listen to the Lord. And listening, be ready to speak to him.

A common way of preparing ourselves for a time of prayer – and a fine way of stilling those inner, maddening, conversations with ourselves – is a simple stillness exercise.

Sitting upright, and quietly focussing on our breathing in, our breathing out. Noticing it, feeling it, hearing it, but not deepening it, just letting the rhythm draw us to a quiet place. If other words or thoughts come just breathe them away, or still them by breathing in and out the holy name of Jesus. Quietly, centring yourself, being centred by your breath, drawn into a place from where you can more easily speak with the Lord.

Listen for his voice. Harden not your heart.

Image: Risen Christ – the living Word of God. Cookham parish church.
Photograph, Allen Morris (c) 2004)