for the journey

We’ve only just packed up our Christmas decorations, and already we’re looking forward to the next great season of the Church! It’s time to move on!

On February 2nd, as we celebrate the Feast of Candlemas and the presentation of the 6 week old Jesus in the Temple, our journey through the Church’s year takes an important turn. As Simeon prophecies that Mary’s heart will be broken, the reality of the Incarnation strikes home.

Ash Wednesday (February 17th) is the beginning of Lent, and the journey to the events of Christ’s saving death and resurrection.

For each of the 40 days of Lent, in addition to our usual prayer posts, we’ll be reflecting on the Eucharist with a daily meditation, along with other resources for prayer and reflection.

As a Pilgrim People, we are always on the move, as we journey from here to eternity. In the Eucharist, God has given us food for the journey.

Sunday 17 January 2021

Scripture

As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour. One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock. (John 1:35-42)

Reflect

At the moment, we’re missing many things including holidays! In between those lockdown days – when restrictions were lifted – many people sneaked off abroad to seek the sun, take a break, see other sights. Sightseeing holidays can often be exhausting as we trawl around old cities, seeking out historical sites and places of interest. And then, on the return home, we can bore our friends with holidays pics! Seeing things second hand is just not the same! In the gospel reading, Andrew has set his sights on something, or rather someone, he has been seeking for some time. John the Baptist has pointed him in the right direction, and Jesus invites him closer still. “Come and see.” So sure that Jesus is the expected One, Andrew brings his brother, Simon, to Jesus too. Having set his eyes on Christ, he naturally wants to lead others to him. Who, in your life, has helped to draw you closer to Christ? Parents, family, friends? And who have you helped to see Jesus as Lord? And is there some way today or in the days to come that we can enable others to see Jesus too?

Prayer

God our Father, I’m thankful to those who have led me to you and inspired me in my life with Christ. Help me to show others to Jesus, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday 16 January 2021

Spiritual Diagnosis

Jesus went out to the shore of the lake; and all the people came to him, and he taught them. As he was walking on he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus, sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.  When Jesus was at dinner in his house, a number of tax collectors and sinners were also sitting at the table with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many of them among his followers. When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’ (Luke 2:13-17)

Reflect

Have you ever had to sit in an ‘A and E’ department, counting down the long waiting time, looking around you and wondering if everyone actually needs to be here, and thinking that you may be seen quicker if so many of them weren’t here. And do you wonder, too, if some of them are looking at you thinking the same thing! Jesus is castigated in today’s gospel reading for dealing with someone whom the religious authorities think is ‘spiritually sick.’ Surely, Jesus shouldn’t be wasting his time with such people when there are other more worthy and upstanding members of the public with whom to pass the time of day. In response, Jesus doesn’t defend Levi. He agrees with their diagnosis. But it’s because of such sinners, he says, that he has come in the first place. It’s those of us who have separated ourselves from God through sin that Jesus needs to claim back, to heal. There is such an important relationship between healing and forgiveness. Both are liberating actions, saving works. Being forgiven begins the process of healing in so many ways. We can’t peer into the soul of another and make a spiritual diagnosis. But we can open our own hearts to the Lord.

Prayer

Loving Father, you search us and you know us through and through. Help us to be honest with ourselves and honest with you so that your healing and forgiveness will take root in our lives and help us grow in your love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday 15 January 2021

Dropped into his presence

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word went round that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door. He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowd made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, ‘How can this man talk like that? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?’ Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say, “Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he turned to the paralytic – ‘I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.’ And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’ (Mark 2: 1-12)

Reflect

We just don’t know what was going through the mind of the man on the stretcher. Was he in control of proceedings? Or were decisions being made for him by his four friends? Was it his desire or theirs for him to be brought before Jesus to request healing? We are told, however, that Jesus saw ‘their’ faith.’ This was a team effort, a corporate desire for this man to be healed. He needed his friends, just as they needed him, and wanted him to be well, and so with faith they present him to Christ. We, too, at times will bring people to Jesus for healing – not lowered through a hole in the roof or carried upon a stretcher but upon our hearts as we pray for them. There is much that we can and should bring to God in prayer. We may not be able to predict the outcome but we can be sure that, dropped into his presence, they and we and all will be well.

Prayer

Lord God, give us that assurance of faith and the trust in you that we need, as we pray for all who are in need of your healing and forgiveness, as we place them in the presence of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday 14 January, 2021

His desire to save

“A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured.” (Mark 1:4-42)

Reflect

You may know the story of an old man who tries to save a scorpion dangling from a branch over a treacherous river. As the man reaches out to save it, the scorpion stings and stings again. “You stupid old man,” cries a passer by. “That scorpion will kill you!” The old man looks up and replies, “Just because it’s in the scorpion’s nature to sting, it doesn’t mean that I should give up my nature to save.” In today’s gospel reading, Jesus is moved with compassion, a desire to heal. Very often, in the gospels, when Jesus heals someone, he says to them, “Your faith has saved you.” It is Christ’s nature to heal us, to save us, a nature and desire which leads to the suffering of the cross, a pain which comes from love, his great love for us, for the world. We may lash out and sting at times, be far from loveable, but Jesus continues to love us still, to reach out, stretch out, save us.

Prayer

God our Father, you loved the world so much that you sent us your Only Son. Help us to accept his healing touch and his desire to save so that in this passing world we may receive your loving consolation and be brought safely home to Heaven Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday 13 January, 2021

Readjusting our lives

“On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.” (Mark 1:29-32)

Reflect

After a time of sickness or pain, our life often takes some form of readjustment. At first, we will be grateful for feeling well again – maybe to doctors, carers, loved ones and, if we are believers, to God too. We will slowly return to some kind of ‘normality’ and no matter how moderate or extreme the time of sickness was, we will often, in the future, compare how we feel now to how we felt then, think about what we couldn’t do, and consider and be grateful for what we can do. When Simon Peter’s mother in law is healed by Jesus of her fever, she immediately begins waiting upon him. For her, good health meant being able to serve Christ. If we seek healing from God it can never be solely about release from pain or fatigue so that we can carry on carefree. To receive the healing touch of Jesus demands a response to his love. His healing liberates us to serve him better, to put our life at his disposal, to readjust our lives around him.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we pray for all who are sick and those who care for them. We offer too, our own need of healing and strength which comes from your hand. Raise us up to serve you better, and to give glory to your name, for you are Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

A deep impression

Scripture

Jesus and his disciples went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority. (Mark 1:21-22)

Reflect

We hear so much these days about fake news, as some people try to manipulate us, create a false picture of a situation, mislead and try to change the way we see the world, and so often for negative purposes. Our perception of reality can sometimes become quite warped. From where do we get our authoritative news? As Jesus begins his public ministry we see him teaching with authority. It is a teaching which we’re told makes a deep impression upon his listeners. As Christians, we need a deep love for the teaching of Jesus in the pages of the Bible, to listen to his words, to hang on his every word. May our hearts be opened to his teaching today so that, like his Capernaum congregation, they may make a deep impression on us too.

Prayer

Lord God, help us to listen to the teaching of Jesus.  May his teaching have a deep impression upon us, and draw us closer to you.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Monday 11 January

Dawdler or disciple?!

Scripture

“As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mark 1: 16-17)

Reflect

What do you need to leave behind today? Worries and concerns, distractions and obsessions.  Or maybe you don’t feel able to move on at all, can only make tentative steps, feel more like a dawdler than a disciple.  Before we even have to make the move, Jesus has already moved in to our daily situation.  He is there in our work and our worries, our family life and friendships, our leisure and pleasure and pains.  He goes out of his way to be alongside us, in our daily occupations and preoccupations, to lead us in his way.

Prayer

Lord God, help us to be alert to the presence of Jesus today, to hear his call to follow him, to have faith in the future he promises. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Sunday 10 January

The Baptism of the Lord

Scripture

It was at this time that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’(Mark 1:9-11)

Reflect

Are there times when you don’t feel so favoured by others? Perhaps you’ve been overlooked a promotion, been left out of a conversation, never received that invitation you’d expected, or felt as though your talents have been disregarded or your contribution undermined.  Today, we read about Jesus being the Beloved Son of the Father, on whom his favour rests.  And because God loves us, because he loves you, he wants us, he wants you, to be drawn into that loving relationship.  Only Jesus by rights can call God his Father but through the spirit of adoption we become Jesus’ brothers and sisters, and are drawn deeper into the divine life, knowing that we are loved and valued as children of God.

Prayer

God our Father, how beautiful that sounds, ‘God our Father.’ Help us to know that we are loved, as your children, with Jesus as our brother and Saviour.  Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Saturday 9 January

Do not be afraid!

Scripture

After the five thousand had eaten and were filled, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. After saying goodbye to them he went off into the hills to pray. When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. He could see they were worn out with rowing, for the wind was against them; and about the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the lake. He was going to pass them by, but when they saw him walking on the lake they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they had all seen him and were terrified. But he at once spoke to them, and said, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind dropped. They were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed. (Mark 6:45-52)

Reflect

Some days we may seem to glide through life without a worry or concern. Other days, perhaps for no obvious reason, we find life a slog, a bit like wading through mud or, like the disciples in the boat, rowing against the wind. In addition to this they have recently witnessed a miracle worked by Jesus but they couldn’t work it out. Their minds were closed. Yes, sometimes, life can be confusing and our understanding of Christ can be challenged. And yet he speaks those words to us as to those first disciples, “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!” Perhaps we need to be more attentive at times to the presence and words of Jesus, as he steps into our fears to bring us peace.

Prayer

God our loving Father, when we row against the wind, give us a vision of Jesus and open our ears to hear his words of comfort.  Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.