of Papua New Guinea
Diocese of Port Moresby
Great to have you back with us again to continue on our journey of faith and reconciliation. This week things are getting a little more serious and challenging. It is all about just what being a Christian means and the readings lead us forward inour lives of faithful discipleship. Please keep those prayers going for us. They are making a big difference. Shalom!
WEEK THREE: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CHRISTIAN?
It is not just in the Gospels that we find some clear teachings on Christian living. Paul, in ministering to his own growing communities, set out some very clear commands and directions. And it was not just Paul. The other New Testament Epistles also outline the road to discipleship. What is very interesting is to see just how many times the same questions came up and how many of them are about relationships between people. Jesus gave the command to Love and the Epistles translate that into clear, practical advice. We will put some of these down into a list so that it is easy to see the kinds of things that should and should not be a part of the Christian community. It will then be necessary to see just how we fit into the picture. It would be fair to say that if some point keeps coming back in different texts, then it must be important for Paul and the others and be a source of serious sin. It is worth our reading through them. The things that we are commanded NOT to do are in ordinary print while the things we are supposed to be doing are in italics.
OUR LIST OF PASTORAL DEMANDS FROM THE EPISTLES
Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and do good to those who hear them Get rid of all bitterness, passion and anger.
No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort.
Instead be kind and tender hearted to one another and forgive one another as God forgave you in Christ.
But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, passion and hateful feelings;
No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips.
You must clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Be tolerant with one another..forgive one another just as the Lord forgave you. To all of these qualities add love.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
Be at peace among yourselves and warn those who are lazy, encourage the timid, help the weak and be patient with everyone. Make sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong.
2 Corinthians 12:20
When I come to you (Paul speaking) I do not want to find quarrelling and jealousy, hot tempers and selfishness, insults backbiting and gossip, pride and disorder.
...do not speak evil of anyone. Be peaceful and friendly and always show a gentle attitude towards other people. Do not be like we used to be before - hating others and having others hate us.
God's righteousness is never served by man's anger.
If he does not control his tongue then his religion is worth nothing and he is tricking himself. Anyone who does this has the wrong idea about what religion is.
A tongue is like a fire. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a wicked world in itself; it infects the whole body; collecting fire from hell itself , it sets fire to the whole of creation....nobody can tame the tongue. It is a pest that will not be kept still, full of deadly poison.
1 Peter 3:8-9
Love one another as brothers and sisters and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing. Pay back evil with a blessing.
1 Peter 3:10-12
Anyone who wants to enjoy life and wishes to see good times must keep from speaking evil and must stop telling lives. He must turn away from evil and do good, he must strive for peace with all his heart.
2 Peter 1:5-7
Do your best to add goodness to your faith; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self control; to your self control add endurance; to your endurance add godliness; to your godliness add brotherly affection; to your brotherly affection add love.
One thing that is very clear is that these New Testament writers condemn all activities which hurt other people. Something else that is also clear is that the biggest hurt comes from tongues, it is what people say to others and about others that hurts most of all and which has the most power to divide a community and break the chains of love. The tongue is such a small part of the body but it really is more powerful than any other part. But the opposite is also true. The tongue has the power to build people up, to strengthen a community, to share out love and goodness. It is a powerful tool given by God to sing his praises and to build loving and caring communities. Whether it is used for good or for evil, for building up or for tearing down will depend on the person using that tongue. The tongue obeys the desire of men and women and they have the power to control it and direct it.
Merciful God, Father of Love,
you gave us the gift of speech so that we could offer you praise and thanksgiving
and for us to share your love
with other people.
But too often we have used that gift
to hurt others;
to gossip, to lie, to show our anger
and to destroy people's names.
In this season of Easter,
help us to use our tongues to repair the damage we have done
and to repent of our sins.
Lead us forward in our desire
to be reconciled,
and to rebuild our families
and communities on love. Amen
SOME PRAYERS FOR USE THROUGHOUT THE STUDY PROGRAMME
These prayers are provided so that as a Diocese we are sharing together common prayers and praying for the same kinds of things. There are special prayers built into the weekly discussions and these can be said through each of the weeks. These further prayers can be said by individuals, built into family prayers and used for all sorts of occasions. They do not all have to be said together but choices can be made. Some of them could well be learned off by heart and made a part of our own personal and family prayers.
The Prayer of St Francis of Assisi
Lord make me an instrument of your Peace.
Where there is hatred let me plant love.
Where there is injury, forgiveness,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair hope,
Where there is darkness light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much
seek to be comforted as to comfort,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
Forgiving that we are forgiven
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.
PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Come Holy Spirit
fill the hearts of your faithful
And light within us the fire of your divine love.
Send forth your spirit and we shall be created
and you will renew the whole of the earth.
O God who taught the hearts of the faithful
by the light of your Divine Spirit,
grant us by that same Spirit
that we may be truly wise,
and how to rejoice in your holy presence,
through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
PRAYER OF LOVE
O my God,
I love you above all things,
with my whole heart and soul,
because you are all good and worthy of all love.
I love my neighbour as myself for the love of you.
I forgive all who have injured me
and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE JESUS PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on me a sinner
THE PRAYER OF ST IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
Teach us Lord,
to serve you as you deserve to be served;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not worry about the wounds;
To work and not to look for rest
and not to ask for any other reward
except that of knowing
that we do your will,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
PRAYER OF ST RICHARD of CHICHESTER
Day by day,day by day,
O dear Lord,
Three things I pray:
To see you more clearly.
To love you more dearly.
To follow you more nearly.
Day by day.
AN EVENING PRAYER
O my God I adore you
And I love you with all my heart.
I thank you for having created me
and for saving me by your grace,
And for having kept me safe during the day.
I pray that you wil take for yourself
Whatever good I have done this day
And that you will forgive me
Whatever evil I have done.
Protect me this night
And may your grace be with me always. Amen.
A MORNING PRAYER
O my God I adore you
And love you with al my heart.
I thank you for having created me
And for saving me by your grace,
And for having kept me safe during the night.
I offer you all of my prayers,
Works, joys and sufferings of this day.
Grant that they may be all according you your will
And for your glory.
Keep me from sin and evil
And may your grace be with me always.