Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ
What an interesting time to be alive.
As we read scripture we need to see the story behind the story and how the people were struggling with political turmoil all around, how their alliances with other nations caused them struggles, how their acceptance of ideologies and practices that were unfaithful to God affected them, and how life had to constantly be worked out and reordered and brought back to God.
We are challenged to look at our lives and see how ’ in-line’ with God’s plans we are. Not just as individuals, but as community, and as a Nation.
And as we see the challenge all around us, corruption, unemployment, the pandemic, socio-economic challenges; we are to fall to our knees and pray, “Lord have mercy.” But I remind you of our Anglican definition of prayer – ‘Responding to God by thought and by deeds, with or without words’ (Anglican Catechism). Prayer is not an intellectual process, and it is not a simple process of becoming mindful, of the issues, in a spiritual sense. Prayer is a transformative process. Prayer is a life changing activity. Richard Rohr reminds us that we cannot think ourselves into a new way of living, we can only act our way into a new way of living. Our prayer must result in action. However, when we do things prayerfully, we take the obedient, servant role. When we commit things to God in prayer it means that we relinquish control over the situation and work under God’s authority and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we address the challenges of our times, we have plenty of opportunity to put this into practice. When we pray for our nation, we need to stand in the gap, take responsibility for our nation, be accountable for our nation. What are you and I doing to do that? What actions are you taking within Civil Society? I know this is not easy and my experience of working in this space in the water sector for the last 15 years does demoralise me, however, we are called to persevere. We are called to be a people of Hope and to journey through the valley of the Shadow of death, fearing no evil. Taking up the rod of salvation and the staff of truth and wearing the armour of God.
Therefore, we are called to diligent prayer: For our Parish – are you using your gifts, offering them to God? In our community, are you working for God’s Kingdom or just a salary or to fulfil your own desires? Are you living in the dignity of Christ, regardless of your worldly status?
An example of this right understanding of prayer is the fact that we speak to God about ending the Pandemic and healing the sick, and we wear masks, sanitise, observe physical distancing and sacrifice our own desires for freedom to do whatever we want, in empathy for the suffering. One of the “observable sacrifices” that we can make is by not singing in Church. By making this sacrifice we keep ourselves constantly aware that the pandemic is causing suffering and we acknowledge that suffering. Singing is a way that we express our freedom to worship our liberty to praise God. Being silenced, makes us think about the struggle of worshiping under persecution, makes us mindful of those who are suffering with diminished lung capacity, those living isolated to the point of loneliness. Being silent before God and restricted from our normal practice is an act of prayer, an act of humility and act of sacrifice. So let us offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.
With the Elective Assembly just 10 days away, I ask you to prayer fervently that the lockdown rules will not change, that the third wave will not come. And this is not a selfish prayer, but it is a great need for us. Everyone has a critical need for this to be so, and so we pray on behalf of the Nation that the 3rd wave will not materialise and that we can continue in some semblance of normality. We pray too that people will return to Church, physically or on the digital platform, it is not the shift from digital to Physical that is required, it is the shift from non -attendance to attendance that is required.
Be assured of my prayers (you can see that I live up to what I have said here – I am not speaking theory but praxis).