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What is prayer?

Different people would answer this question in different ways and no one way is ‘right.’

Life is prayer, seeing, touching, sensing… silence… speaking… our souls resonating with the rhythm of creation.

Prayer takes many forms.

 

 

 

 

Weekly thought for 25 November 2020

“It’s behind you” & “Oh no it’s not”!

The season of pantos and parties is here but this year will be one of the strangest Christmas preparations for all people across the world. For Christians as we start the season of Advent our thoughts are turned to the coming of Christ and a time of hope and new beginnings. Advent is about looking forward not looking back although we are only human, and it is hard not to compare with previous years. Some people will be only too glad to be off the commercial treadmill that this season has become or to avoid the sometimes-nightmarish family gathering that inevitably lead to seasonal disharmony! It is funny how when we are told we can’t do something we want it even more!

Last year on reflection was far worse for me as I prepared to have a life changing operation. Advent was full of hospital visits, scans and, as I saw it, more scans as the doctors became more pessimistic. Expecting my operation one or two weeks before Christmas it became Christmas week itself. I really appreciated the support and prayers from the Bethesda family, as the miracle of my post op prognosis was the best outcome possible. I will spare you too graphic an image but high on drugs, aftereffects of the anaesthetic Hospital Christmas dinner and I didn’t see eye to eye! This year is going to be so much better. I can, however, appreciate the fear that some people have been experiencing with the numbers of positive Covid tests growing or facing other challenges that are life changing for them. Like Advent we have hope on the horizon with the breakthrough of so many possible vaccines.

Looking for cards to write and perhaps meet the posting deadlines I came across a card commemorating the 250th anniversary of the conversion of John and Charles Wesley. It reads, from John Wesley, which made me think of the season of advent:

“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldergate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle of the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for Salvation: and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine! And saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Advent is the time of year in our Christian calendar when we prepare for the birth of Christ, where God becomes flesh, is transformed so we can see God and be with God, a personal relationship, bringing the hope of eternal life. One of my student teachers taught a lesson this week to pupils in Year 7 (11-12 year olds) about the concept of incarnation. At the start of a lesson putting into practice current pedagogy with a task to engage pupils and if possible to use something current and visual. She had an image of a bowl of chilli con carne and a velociraptor and asked the pupils to read part of John’s Gospel narrative of the incarnation and decide what the link between the images and the Bible reading was (she had put in=in & carnate= the flesh). One could not help but smile when her tutor described the confusion why spicy meat and an extinct dinosaur linked to the passage in the Gospel. Here some (not all the pupils) had not connected with her thinking of incarnate (of flesh) with con carne (meat=flesh) and carnivores (flesh-eating) but at least it prompted discussion and got the pupils talking!

What does it mean to be flesh or human? Is it that we have a finite time on earth, that we have emotions and feelings, needs and desires and more? As we prepare to enter the season of Advent on 29th November and we look for the Advent calendar and Advent candle may we remember those who are unable to do so from ill health, loss of faith, persecution or yet to find faith. May we pray for those in need, distress or lost, that they too will be comforted in the hope that Advent brings for all.

As Charles Wesley encourages us to sing:

“Come thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free,
Free us from our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.”

A Prayer

Loving God,
As we approach the season of Advent,
We remember those who are unable to join with us in our Advent preparations for Christmas
Perhaps due to ill health, loss of faith, persecution and for those who are yet to find faith.
We pray for those in need, distress or who are lost,
that they too will be comforted in the hope that Advent brings for all.

Amen.