Saturday, 3 April 2021
Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
46, Saint Catherine’s, Mount Sinai
During Lent and Easter this year, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:
1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;
2, the day’s Gospel reading;
3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society, Partners in the Gospel).
Today is Saturday in Holy Week (3 April 2021), the last week in Lent. This week I am offering photographs from seven churches that I think of as places of pilgrimage and spiritual refreshment (I have reflected earlier this Lent on the place of the chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, and of Lichfield Cathedral, in my spiritual life).
This morning’s photographs are from the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai. I was a guest in this monastery when I visited Egypt a number of times, working on a programme on Christian-Muslim dialogue about 20 years ago.
The Sinai Peninsula commands the spiritual awe of followers of the three main monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. On Mount Sinai, God spoke to Moses through the Burning Bush and gave him the Ten Commandments; here Elijah hid in a crag in the rock; and here Muslims believe Muhammad was a visiting trader prior to the beginnings of Islam, perhaps even visiting Saint Catherine’s Monastery.
Perhaps one of the most unusual but uplifting places to preside at the Eucharist was on top of Mount Sinai at sunrise, bringing bread and wine from the dinner table the night before in Saint Catherine’s Monastery.
Matthew 27: 57-66 (NRSVA):
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ 65 Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:
The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (3 April 2021) invites us to pray:
Let us pray that as we wait ready to receive the risen Christ that we might work toward being the image of Christ in our world.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org