of Papua New Guinea
Diocese of Port Moresby
Welcome back to our last session together.
It is hard to believe that we have now arrived at the final week of our studies. Easter has been such a joy and such an exciting time. For those who have followed us faithfully through these alst five weeks, you will have discovered what has been revealed to us here in the Diocese. That in Christ we have been set free. That the only things stopping us from enjoying that ffreedom and peace are our own unwillingness to truly repent and our failures in letting to of the past. This week we are faced with the invitation from God to take concrete steps towares changing our lives. With God's help. Under the direction of the Spirit of God and with the grace of Christ alive in us. Let us move on to Pentecost with joyful and hope filled hearts!
WEEK SIX: AWAKE O SLEEPER AND ARISE FROM SLEEP.
That heading comes to us from our last Synod and is a timely call. The Church is not dead, just sleeping. And like the little girl in Mark 5:39 it can be raised up and made able to carry out its mission. But it can only be done by faith in Jesus and his power to make a difference in the hearts and lives of believers. He needs to be invited to come to us in our "sickness" and only say the word and we can be healed (Matt 8:8). From that point the rest is up to us. We are the ones who have to use the graces and powers that he gives us just as we have to answer that earlier question "Do we really want to be healed"?
ABRAHAM I HAVE A JOB FOR YOU..LEAVE YOUR HOME
It wasn't only the call of Abraham by God that made him the father of a great nation. It was God that made it all possible but there were a lot of steps to take between the call and the time that promise was fulfilled and it was up to Abraham to take those steps. Israel became a great nation because Abram trusted God and packed up his bags and left for a foreign nation. He had no idea of just how it would work out or how he was going to survive. All he had was God's call and God's promise. What he had to do was start walking. He had to pack and head off and it was only in the journey, in the travelling that God's care and God's love for him became clear. As he lived out his calling he found God was there at every step of the way. He could have stayed at home in Haran and waited for things to be clearer and nothing would have happened. It was in the effort to move that God's grace flowed freely. A quick read of the story in Genesis 12:5 shows the author saying it so beautifully. He says: "They set off for the land of Canaan and arrived there". As simple as that. Whatever problems they had disappeared in that one line - they set off and they arrived. God is good!
Imagine what it must have been like for Moses standing there on the edge of the Red Sea. He looks back and he sees the Egyptian army drowned. He looks to the front and sees a wide open desert. No roads. No transport. No clear way forward and a lot of unhappy and frightened people all around him. He had to decide - go back, wait around for a while, or move out. What God wanted was clear and he had shown already that he had the power to bring about what he wants. The rest is up to Moses. The temptation must have been strong to wait for a while and build up their strength. But they didn't. They headed off into the desert of Shur and trusted that God would sort out the problems. He knew he had a mission. He knew that God had promised to be with him throughout the journey. All he had to do was to take those first steps along the road to Canaan and God would make his presence felt and his power clear. It was not Moses' journey. It was God's journey, a time when he would reveal himself to Israel and to the nations and Moses and the people had to play their part in His story of salvation.
That is the way with God. He expects those he calls to have faith in his divine ability to provide what they need for the mission and to make it successful. It is also true of God that he expects those he calls to be people of action. He did not want Moses and the people to sit around taking about the journey. He did want them to think about how they should go about finishing the journey. What they had to do was begin walking. Just head out into the desert and leave the rest to God. And while they were faithful to that way of thinking they were successful. They only had trouble when they stopped walking and went their own way.
It is also true of King David when he went out to fight against Goliath. The problem was there. The danger was clear and there was no way to go around the difficulty. But he also had a clear promise that God would be with him. He did not sit down and work out just how he would go about the battle and what he would do, nor did he try and have a clear escape route. He went off with just what he would normally carry and as the text says, "he headed off towards the Philistine...after he killed him he cut off his head". It was in taking those first steps along the road towards Goliath that David was filled with God's strength. Sitting back and hoping he would go away, or waiting for a better time or just waiting would mean disaster for Israel. He had to take those first steps towards the enemy.
I DON'T CONDEMN YOU GO AND SIN NO MORE
We can go back again to St John to find another wonderful story. It is right at the start of chapter 8, the story of the woman caught in the act of committing adultery. She deserved to die, according to the Law and the Pharisees wanted just that to happen to her. But no so with Jesus. Of course he knew what she had done and the seriousness of her sin. But he also knew more, that she was someone in need of healing, of forgiveness of the chance at a new and better life. He did not come from the Father to bring damnation and judgment but a whole new creation. He was not interested in the accusations made by others but instead was very interested in the sinner who had fallen from grace. His words are important for us for they tell us two special messages. The first and most joyful is "go". She is not to stand there and wait for punishment. She is to head off, back to her life, back to her family and friends. She is to start moving and begin to celebrate her freedom and salvation. "Go" says Jesus, "...and keep on going. Do not look back, do not hesitate, do not be afraid and do not wait. Just GO"! The second command follows on from this and is just as important. He tells her to "sin no more". That is what she is to go and do. She has been given a new start, a fresh start, and she should make the most of it. Her life has to change. She has to be a new person and she can be new. She can be new because her past is taken away; because her sins are forgiven and all of this because of meeting Jesus. At that meeting she was told to go away and begin again.
As we come to the end of our studies in preparation for the feast of Pentecost, we need to stop and make some plans about what we will be doing about making some changes to our own personal lives, the lives of our families and our lives in the parish and Diocese. It is no use all of these things just being "good ideas". The time has come for action. We need to begin to prepare to make a firm commitment about how we will go about being a new creation. We will need to have the faith of Abraham and Moses, the courage of David and the humility of that woman caught in adultery. We need to admit that we need God, that we are called to be different and then we have to say that we really do want to live a more faithful and active life in the Kingdom of God. That question comes back to us yet again: "Do you want to be healed"? If the answer is yes then let's move forward and put into place those things we need to be doing, and work on ending those things that we should not be doing. Let us allow God to forgive us and heal us and let us take that same forgiveness and healing out to other people. We have the chance to begin again. Let us make the most of it. On the next page there are some helpful suggestions on things to think about and try.
Father of mercy, Loving God,
We praise you for your patience with us.
We have been slow to act,
and slow to go out into the world and live out the things to which we have been called.
We have wasted many of your gifts
and seem to be able to come up with many false excuses for not doing those things
we know we should be doing.
As Pentecost comes upon us,
re-light the fires of faith, hope and love
in our hearts.
Fill us with the courage of David and our
Fathers in faith, that we can take those first important steps in truly becoming
a new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord.
BECOMING A NEW CREATIONWe should note that this page is edged with 130 crucifixes. This is to remind us all of why it is necessary for us to change -because Jesus died for us while we were sinners and made us a new creation, free of sin and filled with Grace. The second reason is to also remind us that the strength and power we need for change does not come from us but from Christ within us. We have this power by taking up our cross every day and following after him. There simply is no other way.
Where do we begin?
As individual believers:
Prayer has to be at the heart of our lives. We need to be praying each day. It is not hard to do and it does not necessarily take up a lot of time. But there has to be some time put aside every day for prayer. We need to make that commitment.
We also need to read the bible every day, even if it is just a few verses. The bible holds for us all of the Truth that we need for salvation and it is in the Bible that we come to hear God speaking to us and revealing himself to us. Again, it does not have to take a lot of time, but there has to be some reading.
Finally, we have to "go out" and do the things that we have seen are asked of us. We have to take part in our parish activities; we have to offer our time and our talents for use by the community; we have to support in all ways (including with our finances and material resources) the life of the Church. We have to get rid of hatreds, end fights and quarrels, take the first steps bringing misunderstandings to and end. Be prepared to be humble, even when it hurts and it seems unjust. Try to take part in the parish and diocesan programmes that are designed to help us work with the poor and needy. If we can find time for sport, for gardening, for visiting friends and for recreation, we should be able to find time for God and his needy children.
The very things that are found above should then be brought into our families. There should be some time each day when we pray as a family. Mealtime is one but it is also important that at the end of each day there is a chance for those family members who are around to thank God for the day, to say sorry for their failings and to ask for his blessing for the night and the next day. A family with no prayer together is a family that is failing in its Christian responsibilities and which will struggle. There should also be time in our families for some shared bible reading. It can be done daily with our prayers or at some time during the week when we all sit down and listen to a bible reading and maybe even have some sharing and praying after it. If we have some visitors then there is no reason why they cannot join in as well. We should be involved in our parish as a family, not just leaving it to dad or mum. There are meetings, groups, work around the grounds, serving and ministry at the altar, the MU, teaching Sunday School, going to Sunday School, youth work, music ministry and of course supporting the parish and its priest. The only way that a family will grow in strength and be filled with the wonderful blessings of the Kingdom, is when it is sacrificing and living for others. It is in this caring for others that they will have the strength they need to grow together in love.
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.
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.