Monday, 1 December 2008

Praying the Scripture

Opening Prayer

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

Acts 22:3-15 (New King James Version)
I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.
Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid,[ but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.


It should have been the worst day of my life. I was wrong – the person who was so sure. And not just wrong, but standing on my head, other side of the planet, black instead of white wrong.

God loves me

Please understand - it’s not that I was one of those apathetic, don’t know, don’t care people. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic they say and it’s true. But what had God ever done for me? School was a nightmare –
rules and regulations, judgements and punishments – happiest days of your life? Don’t think you can get away with anything - God is watching you. Ha!

God loves me.

Expected to go to Church – expected to behave, to follow the rules, to do as I say not as I do. And to give praise to a God that just didn’t seem to care. Not when I lost my job, not when people I love got ill, not when all those horrible things happen in the world. Why would I pray to God? He’s never there when you need him. Oh no, I was making my own way through this life.

God loves me.

I wasn’t doing anything special; I wasn’t in church; I wasn’t praying. In fact I was walking the dog through the park, mind wandering as usual, and just noticed the way the sun made channels of light through the tree canopy and then I was standing in one of those channels. Except it wasn’t just sunlight, it was God-light. A light that went right through me, soaked into me, burned into my heart and soul. A Presence that was beyond the ordinary; that was beyond anything I had ever learnt or thought I knew about God. There was a new sense of wonder and grace – and it made sense. It was real, it was life-giving, it was mine.

God loves me.

And that love is real and it fills me to overflowing. A love that I can’t keep to myself – that’s not how it works. Because I can’t make it through life on my own – I need love – I need God’s love and I need to tell you too.

God loves you.

‘Turn to me’

It is hard to believe now that Paul could have destroyed all hope of the Christian family ever existing. His ruthless determination that the Followers of the Way were wrong, were to be turned back or destroyed was born of an absolute faith in what he believed was right.

The problem with absolutes is that they leave you no room for manoeuvre; after all, what happens when a question you weren’t expecting comes at you – what do you do?

‘Paul, why are you tormenting me?’

And what happens when you realise how wrong you have been; do you go forward or back?

The bravest thing Paul ever did; braver than surviving shipwrecks, braver than the risk of being beaten, braver than the risk of jail and execution, was accepting what had happened to him. The acceptance that allowed him to ask for forgiveness – knowing all he had done and knowing that by human standards he would have been beyond forgiveness – still he opened himself up to God and spent the rest of his life thanking Him for the Love and Grace that was bestowed on him.

Have you heard that call?
Did you respond to that call?
How has that call changed your life?

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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