Sunday, 26 February 2017
Praying in Lent 2017 with USPG,
(1) Sunday 26 February 2017
This morning (26 February 2017) is the Sunday before Lent. I am leading Morning Prayer in Kilcornan Church, Castletown, Co Limerick (9.45 a.m.), presiding at the Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale (11.15 a.m.), and preaching in both churches. The Readings are: Exodus 24: 12-18; Psalm 99; II Peter 1: 16-21; Matthew 17: 1-9. The theme, is the Transfiguration, and as we prepare for Lent, it offers interesting challenges to our ideas of discipleship.
Discipleship is the key theme in the Lent 2017 edition of the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), which follows the theme of the USPG Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life.’
From today, I am using this Prayer Diary for my prayers and reflections each morning this week and throughout Lent. Why not join me in these prayers and reflections, for just a few moments each morning?
In the articles and prayers in the prayer diary, USPG invites us to investigate what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life’ (available online or to order at www.uspg.org.uk/lent), explores the idea that discipleship and authenticity are connected.
To be authentic is to be truly who we are, uniquely, as God created us in our humanity. So how can we become more authentic in our lives? Primarily, by daring not to pretend. Discipleship is not about being ‘good’ but about being ‘real’.
God does not love me because I try to be good – God loves me simply because I am me! God loves each of us in our woundedness, in our strengths and in our weaknesses.
God is always with us. We cannot be separated from God, who knows us better than we know ourselves – so we can dare to be honest before God. God will never be shocked or surprised or reject us no matter what we do or think – we can dare to be authentic.
By pretending to be ‘good’ – rather than real, human and authentic – the only person we are kidding is ourselves. Indeed, we often reject ourselves because we are afraid to believe (or experience) that God can love us for who we truly are.
This week, from Sunday (26 February) to Saturday (4 March), the USPG Lent Prayer Diary follows the topic ‘We are called to be Disciples.’ This theme is introduced in an article by Pat Donald Phillips of the Diocese of Jamaica and Cayman Islands:
The upholders of patriarchy in the twenty-first century say women cannot (should not?) be involved in many areas of life. Happily, Jesus does not think this way. Everyone – whatever their gender – can be a disciple!
Jesus’ life demonstrated his liberating attitude to women: he wanted to support women and be supported by women. Sadly, the church has largely failed to adopt the same attitude – and one of our tasks as disciples is to change minds and work for a more inclusive church and society.
We need to change how we think and ensure that our ‘history’ is also our ‘her-story’. I recently read a book about the birth of Jamaica’s labour movement and the battle for the nation’s independence. A key player was Gladys Longbridge, a young Christian trade unionist who benefited the lives of thousands of Jamaica’s hard-pressed workers. However, she is rarely remembered in this way. Instead, since her death in 2009, Gladys is mostly remembered as the devoted secretary and later wife to Jamaica’s first prime minister and national hero Sir Alexander Bustamante.
This Lent, may we acknowledge that Jesus gives permission for all people – including women – to fully participate in life as disciples.
Sunday 26 February:
Sunday next before Lent
Holy God, thank you for making us all in your image,
each of us a precious child in your sight.
Help us to recognise your dignity in all people,
and work for the inclusion and empowerment of all.
whose Son was revealed in majesty
before he suffered death upon the cross:
Give us grace to perceive his glory,
that we may be strengthened to suffer with him
and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
May we who are partakers at his table
reflect his life in word and deed,
that all the world may know
his power to change and save.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.