Taste and See: Care and Protection

Holy Family Liverpool

The Collect on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time,  had us lay claim to our identity as members of the family of God, and ask the God Jesus taught us to know as Father to show us care and keep us safe:

Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care,
that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,
they may be defended always by your protection.
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.

At every time there are things which threaten us and from which we need protecting.

As we approach the season of Lent it is perhaps especially valuable to take a little time to identify for ourselves, and then place before God, the things which threaten our well-being and for which we do need God’s protection.

Carving of the Holy Family. Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: The Lord restores us and builds us up.

Barcelona 3 (March 2003) 071The Collect on Sunday, the 18th Sunday of the Year, had us call on God for protection and care. It is a prayer of great simplicity and trust. A prayer for a people humble before their God.

Collect Draw near to your servants, O Lord, and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness, that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide, you may restore what you have created and keep safe what you have restored. 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.

We declare our need for restoration, for building up.

  • Where are you getting flakey?
  • Where sagging and creaking?
  • What help do you need?
  • Why will God answer your prayer?

Photograph of Hosanna and  Excelsis spires of church of Sagrada Famiglia, Barcelona. (c) 2003, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The Lord who sets us free

Epstein, CoventryYesterday, the third Sunday of Lent,  the first Scrutiny was celebrated with those adults, the Elect, who are preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil.

The concluding part of the Scrutiny rite is the prayer to free the Elect from the power of sin and evil.

It comes in two parts: the first addressed to the Father, the second to the Son, following the laying on of hands.

The prayer is a prayer of the Church, and an invitation to Jesus for his personal intervention and his care for those entrusted to him.

 

Presider:
God of power, you sent your Son to be our Saviour.
Grant that these catechumens,
who, like the woman of Samaria, thirst for living water,
may turn to the Lord as they hear his word
and acknowledge the sins and weaknesses that weigh them down.

Protect them from vain reliance on self
and defend them from the power of Satan.

Free them from the spirit of deceit,
so that, admitting the wrong they have done,
they may attain purity of heart
and advance on the way to salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

If it is convenient, the celebrant lays his hands on each of the elect.

Then, with hands outstretched over all the elect, he continues:

Lord Jesus,
you are the fountain for which they thirst,
you are the Master whom they seek.
In your presence
they dare not claim to be without sin,
for you alone are the Holy One of God.

They open their hearts to you in faith,
they confess their faults
and lay bare their hidden wounds.
In your love free them from their infirmities,
heal their sickness,
quench their thirst, and give them peace.

In the power of your name,
which we call upon in faith,
stand by them now and heal them.
Rule over that spirit of evil,
conquered by your rising from the dead.

Show your elect the way of salvation in the Holy Spirit,
that they may come to worship the Father in truth,
for you live and reign for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

Sometimes the Church’s ministers can be hesitant about the use of these prayers, so strong in their admission of the power of evil and sin in our lives. However the prayers are even more trenchant in their confession of the power of the Lord.

Who would be without the intercession and care of the Church? Without the power and protection of Christ?

  • Pray the prayer, making it your own, asking God’s protection of those preparing to live as Christians through baptism at Easter.
  • Pray the prayer knowing your own need for God’s protection and care.

 Photograph is of St Michael the Archangel triumphant over Satan, by Epstein. Coventry Cathedral. (C) 2014, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Accompany us as we pass through this day

 

Agnus Dei, YorkOn the 2nd Sunday of Lent, the responsorial psalm would have us declare, in the midst of struggle and doubt, that we will walk with the Lord always, with the Lord who never deserts us.

I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.

I trusted, even when I said:
‘I am sorely afflicted,’
O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.

I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.

Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
you have loosened my bonds.
A thanksgiving sacrifice I make;
I will call on the Lord’s name.

I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.

My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.

I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 115:10,15-19

During Lent, counting our blessings commends itself to us as a spiritual practice in addition to seeking to know more fully our sins and faults.

Let the psalm encourage you to know afresh where the Lord has been with you, protecting and caring for you. Remember, and give thanks.

In earlier times the Agnus Dei was a wax disk blessed by the Pope and worn as a sacramental, or amulet, as a sign and reminder of the blessing and protection of God. The memory of this prompted today’s photograph, from York Minster. The Lamb of God is our hope and blessing, wherever, whenever. Photograph (c) 2007, 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.