Monday, 24 November 2008

Praying the Scripture - Paul

During Advent our Diocese have been asked to reflect on the teachings of Paul. Whilst not an apostle, Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He prepared the way for the development of the early Church, particularly those who were not Jews. And it is through his teaching that we have our understanding of what being a disciple of Christ means.

Paul received his ‘Call’ when he was the greatest enemy that the early Christians faced.
His story is a story of conversion to Love through love.
For Paul, the ‘Call’ never ended – this is an opportunity to tune in, contemplate and share our own experiences.

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (New King James Version)

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church of Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


Like Father, like Son. Isn’t that what they say? And whilst we may both have our own ways of working; sometimes our own views on solving problems; it is probably more true than not; especially when we’ve got a job to do and a person to find to do it.

We like to take chances; to pick the one that never got picked for the team; to pick the one that’s always in the kitchen at parties; to pick the one nominated ‘ least likely to…’

We‘re looking for a chairman – he’ll have no people skills
We’re looking for a spokesperson – she’ll probably stutter
We’re looking for someone to promote the business – he’ll work for the opposition.

Be assured we do have some experience of success. For example, look where the Father sent me – dead-end town in the back of beyond. Even my cousin, John, got to be born into a Temple family, but me? Well, my family kept the gossipers in business for some time.

But in the end it was fine; it was more than fine. You’ve got to trust Him, because from where I started I couldn’t look down my nose at anyone, even if I had wanted to. Find even one of the apostles that was ‘made for the job’. Yet I knew what was inside me and I learnt to look for it in everyone else. I always found it. That flame of Grace that says ‘this is a child of God’. Even Paul – that passion, that conviction, that energy – all going the wrong way; racing headlong towards the annihilation of my followers. All it took was a word, and listen to him now; his prayer has such love, such power no matter how often I hear it. Who could be downhearted with Paul on your side? Although he does say the same about me!

So when I choose you – don’t say ‘I’m not worthy’: don’t say ‘I can’t’; please don’t say ‘choose someone else’, because I know what I am doing when I call you by name. Trust me - after all, I am my Father’s Son.

‘A Beloved Child of God’

No-one would have chosen Paul to bring the Good News to us.
No-one wanted him. Certainly the Apostles didn’t want him; the Jews didn’t want him.

But Jesus wanted him, and has a specific task for him – to take the Good News to people who hadn’t a clue, who weren’t expecting, who weren’t waiting for Good News.

Perhaps when we feel that call, we react against it - knowing or believing that everyone else we know is better read, better educated, more holy, more devout.

But when we do this we are looking the wrong way. Why do you think Paul was made blind? We are looking out of who we think we are instead of in to who we really are. The answer is within us.

Spend some time with yourself. Seeing yourself through God’s eyes as his beloved son or daughter. He did not make people to a pattern – everyone is unique. And seeing our uniqueness is not vanity it is honesty. Honestly wanting to fulfil the potential God gave us.

So try to strip away the doubts and the excuses and try to find the confidence and joy in sharing the knowledge of God’s love for you and for all of us. Maybe to just one other person. And remember Francis of Assisi’s instructions to his brothers
‘ preach the gospel always – if necessary use words.’

Closing Prayer

May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.

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