Taste and see: the long road home

Lynton path

Sunday was the 4th Sunday of Lent, and Laetare Sunday. It invited us to a joyful celebration of the faithfulness of God and encouraged us to renew our trust in God.

Two of the prayers proper to the day give particular expression to this and asks God for continued help and care in these final days of Lent.

First is the Collect prayer which concluded the Introductory Rites.

O God, who through your Word
reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,
grant, we pray,
that with prompt devotion and eager faith
the Christian people may hasten
toward the solemn celebrations to come.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The second was the (optional) concluding Prayer over the People, asking for God’s continued support.

Look upon those who call to you, O Lord,
and sustain the weak;
give life by your unfailing light
to those who walk in the shadow of death,
and bring those rescued by your mercy from every evil
to reach the highest good.

Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

These prayers rehearse us in the sometimes resisted attitudes of asking for help, of expressing our neediness, and placing our trust in God.

  • For what in particular do you want to ask for help?
  • What are your particular needs (that maybe as yet you have not asked for help with)
  • If you can, why can you put your trust in God? And, if you can”t, what makes you hesitate?

Path and bench. Lynton. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Come to our aid

Andrea Joli, Assisi

The Psalm provided in the Lectionary for the first Sunday of Advent has us call on God to take action, to come to our help.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
shine forth from your cherubim throne.
O Lord, rouse up your might,
O Lord, come to our help.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again;
give us life that we may call upon your name.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Psalm 79:2-3,15-16,18-19

One might wonder what the Lord might say to us in return? ‘I have come to your help? But to what avail? How have you used and how do you use, the help I offer you?’

In the first days of Advent our focus is especially on the coming day of the Lord, the day of Judgement. We may well blanch and tremble at how often we have taken very little of benefit from the extraordinary graces put our disposal every day.

And yet the psalm is one such grace. God’s word finding a fresh place on our lips, helping us to know our frailty and our need to cry out to the one who alone can save us.

  • How might you better engage with the grace of God to help you turn more fully and wholly to him?
  • How might you help others do the same?

The photograph is of a work by Andrea Jori, it depicts (I think!) St Clare sustained in her faith by St Francis. But maybe it can also serve as a reminder of the protection and care each human person enjoys because of the love and mercy of God. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.