01 Apr Vicars’ Blog – April 2017 – Growing in friendship with God as People of the Risen King!
Growing in friendship with God as People of the Risen King!
Easter – a great time to catch up with family and eat Easter eggs. And hopefully to take some time out to think again about what Jesus did for us. A Matt Redman song says “Once again, I look upon the cross where you died. I’m humbled by your mercy and I’m broken inside. Once again, I thank you. Once again, I pour out my life.” Jesus poured out his life for us.
Jesus’ broken and crumpled body was taken down from the cross. Lifeless. And yet his death the means of bringing life eternal to you and me. But death could not hold him. “He is not here he has risen!” said the angel at the empty tomb to the disciples. He is the Lord of life. We are forgiven, set free, redeemed by his death and resurrection. Maybe we should set aside some time in Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, to consider the last days of Jesus’ life, perhaps reading chapters 11 to 16 of Mark’s gospel, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday morning as we prepare ourselves to be filled with the anguish of Good Friday, with the emptiness of Easter Saturday and with the incomparable joy of Easter Sunday. Jesus is the risen king and we are people of the risen king.
As people of the risen king, we will certainly want to live our lives differently from other people. I am going to refer again to Ken Shigematsu’s book, God in My Everything and the idea of a tree of life or trellis as a framework for a healthy Christian life. (See Feb edition for the picture).
The tree is divided into four parts: Roots, Relate, Restore, and Reach. We are spending some time on the roots because if the roots aren’t deep, the tree simply won’t stand up and neither will we. This month we look at the third aspect of the Roots – Prayer. The other two, Bible reading and Sabbath, we looked at in the February and March editions of Radius.
On the day, we know as Maundy Thursday, the day before Jesus died, he went into the garden of Gethsemane to pray to the Father. Knowing the “cup” he had to drink was the cup of execution, Jesus poured out his heart to the Father in anguish. What could be more important for him? What could be more important for us? Prayer takes many forms. From the cry of anguish to a long retreat like Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, to long petitionary prayers, to short arrow prayers, to confession, to thanksgiving, to painting prayer, to bubble prayers…. and many more.
Ken has some helpful hints for those of us who would like to grow our prayer life. He says prayer is about deepening our friendship with God. Just like a couple who want to spend time with each other to get to know each other, for example by taking walks together, so we need to simply spend time with the Lord to get to know him better. Deepening our friendship with God. (pic)
There are different patterns of prayer that we can try. Ken talks about a rhythm of prayer: each day to set aside a time, it could be first thing in the morning, but that doesn’t work for everyone. We can choose the time of day when we are at our best, to pray. Then before bed, Ken likes to pray St Ignatius’ Examen. Thinking back over the day for five or ten minutes each evening, he asks “What am I most grateful for? Where did I feel most alive? What am I least grateful for? What do I most regret?” This leads to thanksgiving and confession. A rhythm of life.
It is helpful to find a place, however ordinary, which is conducive to seeking God. What position should we adopt for prayer? Whatever keeps our minds on track. Who should we pray with? It is good do pray on our own and with others. Are words necessary? Silence, with practice, can be a very deep form of communion with the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God”. We must experiment ad see what leads us closer to God. Our prayer life will be shaped by the different stages of our spiritual journey as well as our life circumstances. God is present everywhere. What a privilege to commune with the creator of the universe! May we grow in friendship with God and live as people of the risen king.
May we wish you a very joy-filled Easter.
Jonny & Cathy