09 April 2017

Praying in Lent 2017 with USPG,
(43) Sunday 9 April 2017

Palm Crosses ready for the Liturgy of the Palms in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is Palm Sunday [9 April 2017] and in our pilgrimage and journey in Lent we have arrived at Holy Week, the last week in Lent, with Easter Day a week away [16 April 2017]. This morning I am presiding at the Palm Sunday Eucharist at 9.45 a.m. in Castletown Church, Kilcornan, Co Limerick, leading Morning Prayer at 11.15 a.m. in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, and preaching in both churches.

The Lent 2017 edition of the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) follows the theme of the USPG Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life.’

Throughout Lent, I have been using this Prayer Diary for my prayers and reflections each morning, inviting you to 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.

This week, from today, Palm Sunday (9 April) until Holy Saturday (15 April), the USPG Lent Prayer Diary is following the narrative of Holy Week. The topic is introduced today in an article in the Prayer Diary by Paulo Ueti, a bible scholar and theologian in the Anglican Church of Brazil.

He writes:

It is our calling as Christians to configure our lives to be like Jesus, which is not an easy task! It requires a deep desire to be changed and to assume the work of changing the world.

A crucial theological concept – and a key life experience for believers – is that God always takes the initiative and comes to meet us, no questions asked, no special behaviour required, no conditions set. Our part, as disciples, is to open ourselves up to receive and accept God’s transforming love. Out of such an experience of God’s love we are then able to love others and welcome in a manner that is non-judgemental.

Discipleship is also about empowering communities to strive for transformation by struggling against inequality, violence, poverty, fear and individualism. This is our Easter pilgrimage!

We are also called to encounter the Cross – which means not running away from the conflicts of everyday life, which are our teachers. So often it is during our darkest nights – when we are in crisis and feel lost – that we experience the dawn of resurrection.

The fourth-century Church Father Evagrius Ponticus says we can only encounter God if we are prepared to encounter ourselves in truth. When we can acknowledge and accept our own darkness, then we are able to accept others.

Sunday 9 April 2017,

Palm Sunday:

Holy God, as your Son entered his own city
on a colt, the foal of a donkey,
may we in humility, yet with your confidence,
work to transform our communities, in your Son.

Continued tomorrow.

Yesterday’s reflection.

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