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TKC Day 2

day two

Praise

Hear

‘… we will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.’ Psalm 79:13 (NRSV)

Imagine

 … your five friends standing beside you praising God.

Pray

 … for your five friends to be awake to all that they have already received from God in their lives, and all that He offers them in Christ, that they might praise Him.

Desire

‘There are more tears shed over answered prayers than unanswered prayers.’

St Teresa of Avila

Paul

TKC Day 1

day one

Jesus

Hear

‘ I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ Philippians 3:8 (NRSV)

Imagine

 … your five friends in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth.

Pray

 … for your five friends to encounter Jesus in all His grace, challenge, and love, that they might say with St Paul, ‘For me to live is Christ’.

Desire

‘I would rather die and come to Jesus Christ than be king over the entire earth. Him I seek who died for us; Him I love who rose again because of us.’

Ignatius of Loyola

Paul

Thy Kingdom Come – praying for five people

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Over the 11 days from Ascension Day to Pentecost we are encouraged by our archbishops to take part in daily prayer. In response to this I will send you each day the contents of a Prayer Journal that focusses on prayer for five people that you choose from amongst those you know – friends, family, colleagues, anyone for whom you care. Will you pray with me as I pray for my five peoplefive people?
With Blessings,

Paul

——

From the Prayer Journal's introduction:

Thy Kingdom Come

Thy Kingdom Come is the title coined for a worldwide prayer movement between Ascension and Pentecost. These days have always been infused with expectation and anticipation — as He ascended, our Lord Jesus Christ promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable the disciples to be witnesses. As those first followers waited for the promise to be fulfilled by constantly devoting themselves to prayer (Acts 1:11), so the renewed call across the church is to set these days apart to pray.

 

In the gospels we read again and again how people would bring friends, loved ones, family members, and children to Jesus. This is the focus for our prayers in these next days — most particularly to bring to God five individuals, that they might have an encounter with Jesus Christ.

 

On each of the following days, there will be a simple way of praying under that day’s theme that will enable you to bring your five friends to Jesus — that each of these lives may be transformed by the One who makes them the object of his relentless, redeeming love.

 

Lent Day 40

Day 40: Saturday, 20 April

Psalm 119: Lamedh

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;
      it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
      you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
      for all things serve you.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
      I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
      for by them you have preserved my life.
94 Save me, for I am yours;
      I have sought out your precepts.
95 The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
      but I will ponder your statutes.
96 To all perfection I see a limit,
      but your commands are boundless.

NIV

We return to Psalm 119. The section where each line in the Hebrew starts with the letter lamedh is found above. I have mentioned that learning words is a good thing, and it is not so difficult if you take the time. What would be better: to look it up in a web browser on your mobile or to recite it instantly?

These are words of encouragement. Repeat to yourself the opening verse until something of its truth touches your heart. The three verses are powerful statements about God. It might seem a little odd to delight in God’s law, for to me the Ten Commandments carry a lot of “thou shalt not” in them, and the ‘thou shalt’s’ might not seem that exciting, either. But I’d be missing much if I did not peer more closely into the text and ask myself why God gave these words to Moses. They speak of long life, of blessings passing directly and free of charge through generations of families, and you will take a day off each week. Jesus added a layer of truth to the words of the law and summed it up in a few words, and he himself paid in his blood the price of our sin. As the Temple veil was torn, so the tablets of stone became redundant to those who follow Jesus.

The Law exists today, and everyone who is not in Christ remains under it, whether they believe that or not. Anyone who loves the law and follows it will be like the young psalmist above, who follows God with excitement, fervour and outright commitment. Even better for those who follow Christ.

What has a Christian got that surpasses the joy of the psalmist?

If you have found these reflections useful, how might you develop your understanding of them or respond artistically to their content? How about keeping favourite verses in a journal, drawing designs or pictures to colour in, learning a psalm or two?

Father God, I commit myself to you. Commit me to meditating upon your word that it may enlighten my thoughts and actions and set my spirit to rise in worship. Amen.

For the pure joy of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOo2HbNESNo

If you like that, then https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–UABwqW9Sg

Journaling and colouring in Bible: https://www.google.com/search?q=ISBN+9781473640160

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised Edition) Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. "NIV" is a registered trademark of Biblica – UK trademark number 1448790.

Paul

Lent Day 39

Day 39: Friday, 19 April

Psalm 134

Praise in the Night

A Song of Ascents.

1 Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
      who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
2 Lift up your hands to the holy place,
      and bless the Lord.

3 May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,
      bless you from Zion.

NRSVA

This is not the shortest psalm, though as a psalm of ascents I’d imagine you wouldn’t get far up the hill on one iteration on these words. The psalm is initially addressed to the Levites, the ones

Our corporate praise is predominantly morning praise. Wake up and praise the Lord!

When morning gilds the sky,
my heart, awakening, cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Our night time hymns can be a little less exciting

The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at thy behest,
To thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

This hymn is actually quite popular at funerals. I think it has been misunderstood a little, as it does hint at constant praise of God, though by others across the world in their various daylight hours. Of course, there is ‘Come bless the Lord’, which is based on these words, but evening worship has become an opt-out in most churches. We might want to settle down at home, to batten up the hatches as Sunday evening approaches, but God is to be worshiped at any time.

Our morning worship is probably more seat-based than upstanding. We’ll stand to sing, possibly for a Gospel reading in a communion service and that ninth lesson in the carol service, but not for many other readings. Prayers are not often recited in a standing position, and so this psalm’s call to bless God as we stand before him and raise our hands up towards his presence is not universally taken up.

Are we slipping away from ‘physical’ worship as expressed in the psalms?

Father God, set my hands to move at the impulse of Your love. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_O4uYFbVKo – a gentle evening song.

Scripture quotations are from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicised) of the Bible copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches in the USA. Used by permission. All Rights Reserved. 

Paul

Lent Day 38

Day 38: Thursday, 18 April

Psalm 128

A Song of degrees.

1 Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord;
that walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands:
happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house:
thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed
that feareth the Lord.
5 The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion:
and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children,
and peace upon Israel.

AV

A short psalm that is packed with content. Fear means respect, honour and reverence, knowing your place. God is an awesome god. He is the only God. He demands the bowing of our knees before him. Stay in his shadow, learn his ways, get close, and you will understand them better. Your life and labour will be blessed, as will your home and family.

The journey to Jerusalem is important to the great number of pilgrims who make their way there from all across the world (see the list of countries mentioned in Acts 2:7-11). Blessing from God could only come through the priests who worked in the Temple. This could not be obtained in the local synagogue.

Pilgrimage was a central part of life. We may wonder at pilgrimage today, as the veil of the Temple was split at Jesus’ death, and blessing comes directly from God in Jesus, who lives in us where we are by his Holy Spirit. Certainly, the appropriation of pilgrimage as a money tool to hit people with was evident in Jesus’ day (the Temple money-changers), common in medieval times, and still continues in largely Catholic countries.

There is still something to be said for committing to making a journey to a special place of significance as an outward act of seeking renewal (I avoid including penitence, as repentance trumps penitence). Though not particularly to my taste, there are sites that commemorate an event or hold some mortal remains of past brothers and sisters in faith, and the connection they offer may help strengthen faith.

Our nearest place of pilgrimage is Walsingham, which has both a Catholic and an Anglican shrine. It’s an interesting place. That the Lord does and shall bless us in Christ through his Holy Spirit reminds me that I do not need to go on pilgrimages to find God. I may, however, wish along with others to make a public pronouncement of my faith in, say, walking around the area the church is situated.

How ready is your church to do a walk of witness in its neighbourhood?

How would you prepare the ground?

Father God, I know that I am called to share my faith. It would be easier if it already overflowed from me. Join my spirit with your Holy Spirit that I may cry out, ‘Abba, Father’ in response to knowing your love, your grace, your mercy, your fatherhood. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A8bbXdxTac Sons of Korah

From The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press. 

Paul

Lent Day 37

Day 37: Wednesday, 17 April

Tehillim 122

122 (Shir HaMa’alot, [Song of Ascents] of Dovid). I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the Bais Hashem.

2 Our feet shall stand within thy she’arim, O Yerushalayim.

3 Yerushalayim is built as an Ir bound firmly together;

4 That is where the Shevatim (tribes) go up, the Shivtei Hashem, according to the edut l’Yisroel (the statute to Yisroel), to give thanks unto the Shem of Hashem.

5 For there are set kise’ot l’mishpat (thrones of judgment), the kise’ot of the Bais Dovid.

6 Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim (pray for the peace of Jerusalem); they shall prosper that love thee.

7 Shalom be within thy wall, and security within thy citadels.

8 L’ma’an (for the sake of) my achim and companions, I will now say, Shalom be within thee.

9 L’ma’an the Bais Hashem Eloheinu I will seek thy tov.

Orthodox Jewish Bible

This is an English language version that employs Yiddish and Hasidic cultural expressions. Most of the words I suspect you can figure out. If not, open up your Bible to Psalm 122 and compare.

Come, on, let’s go up to Jerusalem! One translation I have loved for many years doesn’t quite hit the mark on this psalm: I was glad for the suggestion of going to Jerusalem. Whether you go down to London, or up to it, it’s always up to Jerusalem.

This is more than a daytrip to Freeport, or a day out in London with a show thrown in. This is a pilgrimage to a festival. People coming to Jerusalem for its various festivals could be taking a week or two out of their lives to travel there, to stay for the festival, and to travel back home. Remember that it took a few days before Mary and Joseph actually missed young Jesus as they journeyed home after a festival.

This journey will end in Jerusalem, within the gates, upon the hill of Zion, in the Temple. Jerusalem is a city at unity in itself – if only that were true today. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we may be praying more for peace between the different religious groups that inhabit the city, rather than peace for Jerusalem and Israel in the wider world setting. However, we can still love the city, and I suggest we do, for they shall prosper that love Jerusalem. Pray for peace for all those who live there, and, by extension of the microcosm, who share lives and space in Israel/Palestine.

Peace, Jerusalem, be within your walls.

What is the nearest we do to a pilgrim journey?

Father God, I pray for Jerusalem, shalom Yerushalayim. I pray for peace among people of differing faiths, and that those who carry the name of Jesus may stand for his light and truth in this dark world. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDcfe2s–I8 pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved. OrthodoxJewishBible.org

Paul

Lent Day 36

Day 36: Tuesday, 16 April

Psalm 121

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

1 I look up to the mountains—
      does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
      who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;
      the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
      never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The Lord himself watches over you!
      The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
      nor the moon at night.

7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
      and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
      both now and forever.

NLT

As a counter to yesterday’s psalm. We’re going up to the Holy City, to Mount Zion. The writer pours out his confidence in the Lord God’s ability and readiness to help, protect and watch over him in all conditions of life. Where does my help come from? The Lord, of course!

God is able and ready to watch over each one of us day and night. He watches in the mundane things, our going out, our coming in, our visit to the supermarket, at the hairdresser’s, walking in town, driving to work, on the bus. Every common task of our daily lives is covered.

There is a caveat. In order for God to take care of us in the commonplace, we need to commit ourselves to Him in the commonplace. I’m not saying that God will only respond to those who ask, but if we are to see the truth of this psalm evident in our lives we need to consider and rejoice in God’s goodness to us in the commonplace as well as in the spectacular. God’s watching over us in the small events of life are no less important to him than watching in the big events. We may easily forget that, and can easily fail to give God the honour for the way he preserves us from all harm, and checks our movements day in, day out.

Do you commit your car journeys to God before you turn the ignition key or press the start button?

Do you pray on the bus for a safe journey for everyone?

Do you uphold the supermarket cashier in prayer as you queue up with your trolley?

Father God, you care for me in a way that goes beyond my understanding. What am I, that you should care for me! I commit to you my goings out and my returns from this day forward. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzmYuOFsYtU – a positive, confirming confessional acknowledgement of God’s providence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBJsK-_RRt8 – Hebrew with subtitles

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Paul

Psalm readings on Radio 4 this week

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You might like to make a note of a series of four episodes over the coming weekend of readings from the book of Psalms, using the Authorised Version, read by Jeremy Irons.
This weblink gives you some more information:
On Good Friday on Radio 4 at 3.00 Bishop James Jones will offer a meditation based on Psalm 22:
With Blessings,

Paul

Lent Day 35

Day 35: Monday, 15 April

Psalm 42

For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
      so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
      When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
      day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
      “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
      as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
      under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
      among the festive throng.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
      Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
      for I will yet praise him,
      my Saviour and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;
      therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
      the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
      in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
      have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love,
      at night his song is with me—
      a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
      “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
      oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
      as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
      “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
      Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
      for I will yet praise him,
      my Saviour and my God.

NIV

We enter Holy week. Intense activity in a short space of time. Over the next seven days we see the expectation of triumph turn to abject defeat, but with a glorious and unexpected twist a short time after. I think we can get quite maudlin over Holy Week, as commemoration can turn so easily into rather solemn ritual. The psalms over the following days are psalms of ascent – more about that tomorrow.

Today’s psalm speaks of the desire and longing of the worshipper to be where God is. Hymns like ‘As the deer longs for the water, so my soul longs after you’ can possibly hit a positive note of desire and confirmation, but the psalm itself is a little darker than that.

The writer laments for the presence of God. There are times when God seems far away. I’ve not suffered with depression, but I wonder if the sentiments being expressed here have any resonance with that condition. The writer is lamenting the loss of the good times when he would joyfully go to God’s house, but now it seems as if he can’t bring himself out of his own house. Verse 3 suggests that the writer is fasting as a penitential response.

Verses 5 and 11 are like a refrain of hope to the verses of despair. Why are you upset, my soul? Put your hope in God! For many people in the dumps, a cheer up call might not be what they want to hear. The writer does not switch from lament to rejoicing just like that, but God calls his people to rejoice. A second reminder is needed at the end. Perhaps rejoicing even when you do not feel like it can still make a difference to your state. If God hears your rejoicing might he not want to come closer to hear some more?

How would you describe your spiritual walk with God? Is it a walk in the park, a roller-coaster ride, submerging and surfacing, or something else?

How close is your walk with God?

Father God, despite my condition, You are constant, ever ready to listen, to guide, to admonish and ever-present through your Holy Spirit within me. It’s probably in my dark times that I see You least, but You are closer than ever. Amen.

Two contemplative takes on Psalm 42:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGgsmCEgf4w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG-_fHEjygU

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised Edition) Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. "NIV" is a registered trademark of Biblica – UK trademark number 1448790.

Paul