Within the ranks of caring angels

This illustration dates from 2003, created to accompany a tribute to the “angels on assignment” who ministered to my dad and my family when we met up in Cape Town for a last Christmas together just weeks before my dad died. It features a wood-carving that I bought during that trip and that now hangs in my front window.

 
 
Here is a prayer by Bruce Prewer for all those angels, human and heavenly, ministering in needy situations here on earth.

Prayer of Intercession

The word angel originally meant “messenger.”
For God’s angels on this earth,
let us now pray.

 
We thank you, loving God,
that you do not leave us without helpers.
Thank you for your special agents, those guardian angels —
both human and heavenly — who never cease to care.

Wherever there are situations of confusion,
where doubts proliferate and anxieties spawn,
please send in your angels of light.

Wherever people are crippled by guilt,
or deeply regret damage to others which they can never rectify,
send in your angels of mercy.

Wherever there is arrogance and deceit,
corruption and rapacious greed,
send in your fiery angels of judgement.

Wherever ignorance reigns
or superstition cripples individuals or communities,
please send in your angels of truth.

Wherever persons or nations become obsessed with aggression,
or resort to terrorism and warfare,
send in your agents of peace and goodwill.

Wherever families are at loggerheads,
or in the workplace folk feel alienated from one another,
send in your angels of reconciliation.

Wherever people see their future as bleak or dangerous,
and fall into the trap of inertia or despair,
please send in your angels of hope.

Wherever the church becomes exclusive,
or gets caught up in its own regulations,
      traditions, or inflexible dogma,
send in your angels of reformation.

Wherever ministers lose their passion for the Gospel,
or congregations become self-satisfied or apathetic,
please send in your angels of rebuke.

Wherever there are people who are afflicted by disease
or injured in accidents,
struggle against mental ills
or suffer from criminal violence,
send in your angels of healing.

Wherever the dying endure fears or pain,
and the bereaved either shed the hot tears of a fresh grief
or endure the long-term loss of a partner or friend,
send in your angels of comfort.

Loving God,
Lord of all the messengers of grace on earth and in heaven,
hear our prayers and enlist us, please God,
within the ranks of your caring angels.
Through Jesus Christ your only True Son,
our Saviour and our inspiration.
Amen!

written by Bruce Prewer, and posted on Bruce Prewer’s website.


Have you got your next angel assignment yet?


from the blog: Fierce love #2
 

Radiance, communion, energy


Gibraltar  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
What if Jesus had not risen from the dead?

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul explores this question at some length.

Here is a prayer by Brother Roger of Taizé using this question to celebrate some of the glorious fruits of the resurrection for us personally.

An Easter prayer

If you were not risen,
Lord Christ, to whom would we go
to discover a radiance
of the face of God?

If you were not risen,
we would not be together
seeking your communion.
We would not find in your presence
forgiveness,
wellspring of a new beginning.

If you were not risen,
where would we draw the energy
for following you
right to the end of our existence,
for choosing you again and anew?

by Brother Roger of Taizé

 
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #815


From the blog
Theme: God makes all things new (Prayer sheet)
In the school of prayer with Anselm
 

In the school of prayer with Angela Ashwin

Books by Angela Ashwin
3 books by Angela Ashwin from my library

 

Angela Ashwin teaches us how to write beautiful, evocative prayers that connect with our everyday experience. But she is also an advocate for using “borrowed words” to enrich our (prayer) lives.

Companion

I first came across Angela Ashwin through her book, A little Book of Healing Prayer: my companion during the 5 days I spent at my mother’s deathbed. How comforting to have Angela Ashwin and others lend me their words while in the “valley of the shadow of death”.

One of the prayers seemed particularly apt – my mother was ever the seemstress – and I included it on the funeral service sheet:

O living God,
draw all the fragments of my life
into the bright mosaic of your love;
weave all the tangled threads of my desires
into the tapestry you are spreading,
like a rainbow,
on the loom of the world;
and help me celebrate
the many facets
and the dazzling colours
of your peace.

written by Julie M. Hulme
from A little Book of Healing Prayer by Angela Ashwin, #64

Ministry of “borrowed words”

A few years later, while on a trip to Edinburgh, I came across The Book of a Thousand Prayers, compiled by Angela Ashwin. I immediately bought two copies, one for myself and one for a friend. Prayers from this volume regularly make it onto the blog. (Maybe you’ve noticed and been inspired to buy a copy of your own.)

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to The Book of a Thousand Prayers (p.11) that explains the value and ministry of “borrowed words”:

We do not always need another person’s words when we pray. But there can be times when a prayer by someone else expresses our concerns and desires better than we could do ourselves and becomes a source of inspiration and strength. Or we may ‘grow into’ a prayer which has tremendously high ideals, such as the one by John Wesley: ‘Lord God, I am no longer my own but yours.’ Even though we have not ourselves arrived at such dizzy heights of self-giving, the very act of using a prayer like this helps us to come closer to its aspirations.

There can also be a sense of freedom in using a set prayer, because the words are given, and we simply let go into their flow and meaning. This is especially helpful in times of stress or doubt. The familiar words of a well-known prayer, or the challenges of a modern one, bring us back to our roots in God and remind us that we belong to the great body of Christ’s people. A written prayer links us not only with its author but also with all the other peoeple who have used it, so that, in a sense, we are never alone when we pray.

We usually think of prayer as an offering we make to God – and so it is. But it is much more. Prayer is God’s gift to us, a banquet of good things to feed our inner life as we respond to the invitation to his feast of peace, forgiveness, challenge and love.


 
To close, a prayer by Angela Ashwin that works as a mini-retreat:

God of delight, Source of all joy,
thank you for making me part of the web of life,
depending on the rhythms and fruits of the earth for my existence.
Help me to be wholly present to you,
now, in this place,
where my feet are on the ground,
and where I am surrounded by creation’s gifts,
from concrete to clouds,
if I have the wit to notice them!

from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #210


From the blog
In the school of prayer with Anselm
In the school of prayer with Eddie Askew
In the school of prayer with Ann Lewin
 

The whole bright world rejoices


Fellow festival-goers in lights, Edinburgh 2017  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
After a series of solemn daily meditations for Holy Week, now for something bright and cheerful: a seventeenth century Easter carol, to channel our “laughing cheer” and “boundless joy”, for Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!

Easter carol

The whole bright world rejoices now:
with laughing cheer! with boundless joy!
The birds do sing on every bough:
Alleluia!

Then shout beneath the racing skies:
with laughing cheer! with boundless joy!
To him who rose that we might rise:
Alleluia!

God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
with laughing cheer! with boundless joy!
Our God most high, our joy, our boast:
Alleluia!

 
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #822
 


From the blog – also on an Easter theme
2017 windows on Holy Week #8
 

HW18 #6: He suffered abandonment


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)

 
Mark 14:50
Then everyone deserted him and fled.

 

 
Psalm 22:11
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

 
2 Corinthians 4:8-10
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.


Prayer for Holy Week

Jesus said,
“Can you be baptised with the baptism I must be baptised with?”

Lord, we seek to feel your sadness,
we seek to share your tears.

O Christ, help us to become one with you.
In your defenceless love,
    teach us the grace of self-offering.
In your weakness,
    teach us the grace of acceptance.
In your betrayal,
    teach us the grace of forgiveness.
In your testings,
    teach us the grace of believing.

source: Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold patterns for each day (The Celtic Prayer Book, Volume One), by Ray Simpson, p. 288
 

HW18 #5: He suffered treachery


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)

 
Mark 14:43-45
Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him.

 

 
Psalm 22:12-13
Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.

 
2 Timothy 4:11
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Prayer for Holy Week

Jesus said,
“Can you be baptised with the baptism I must be baptised with?”

Lord, we seek to feel your sadness,
we seek to share your tears.

O Christ, help us to become one with you.
In your defenceless love,
    teach us the grace of self-offering.
In your weakness,
    teach us the grace of acceptance.
In your betrayal,
    teach us the grace of forgiveness.
In your testings,
    teach us the grace of believing.

source: Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold patterns for each day (The Celtic Prayer Book, Volume One), by Ray Simpson, p. 288


From the blog: 2017 Windows on Holy Week
(with photos of the Holy Land by Kate McDonald)

HW18 #4: He suffered anguish


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)

 
Mark 14:32-42
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

 

 
Psalm 22:2
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

 
John 16:20-22
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.


Prayer for Holy Week

Jesus said,
“Can you be baptised with the baptism I must be baptised with?”

Lord, we seek to feel your sadness,
we seek to share your tears.

O Christ, help us to become one with you.
In your defenceless love,
    teach us the grace of self-offering.
In your weakness,
    teach us the grace of acceptance.
In your betrayal,
    teach us the grace of forgiveness.
In your testings,
    teach us the grace of believing.

source: Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold patterns for each day (The Celtic Prayer Book, Volume One), by Ray Simpson, p. 288


From the blog: 2017 Windows on Holy Week
(with photos of the Holy Land by Kate McDonald)

HW18 #3: He suffered collusion


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)

 
Mark 14:10-11
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

 

 
Psalm 22:16
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.

 
Psalm 1:1
Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers.


Prayer for Holy Week

Jesus said,
“Can you be baptised with the baptism I must be baptised with?”

Lord, we seek to feel your sadness,
we seek to share your tears.

O Christ, help us to become one with you.
In your defenceless love,
    teach us the grace of self-offering.
In your weakness,
    teach us the grace of acceptance.
In your betrayal,
    teach us the grace of forgiveness.
In your testings,
    teach us the grace of believing.

source: Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold patterns for each day (The Celtic Prayer Book, Volume One), by Ray Simpson, p. 288

HW18 #2: He suffered criticism


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)

 
Mark 14:3-9
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

 

 
Psalm 22:7
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

 
Romans 8:1
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,


Prayer for Holy Week

Jesus said,
“Can you be baptised with the baptism I must be baptised with?”

Lord, we seek to feel your sadness,
we seek to share your tears.

O Christ, help us to become one with you.
In your defenceless love,
      teach us the grace of self-offering.
In your weakness,
      teach us the grace of acceptance.
In your betrayal,
      teach us the grace of forgiveness.
In your testings,
      teach us the grace of believing.

source: Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold patterns for each day
(The Celtic Prayer Book, Volume One)
, by Ray Simpson, p. 288
 

HW18 #1: He suffered scheming


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)

 
Mark 14:1-2
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

 
Psalm 22:6
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

 
1 Peter 2:1-3
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.


Prayer for Holy Week

Jesus said,
“Can you be baptised with the baptism I must be baptised with?”

Lord, we seek to feel your sadness,
we seek to share your tears.

O Christ, help us to become one with you.
In your defenceless love,
      teach us the grace of self-offering.
In your weakness,
      teach us the grace of acceptance.
In your betrayal,
      teach us the grace of forgiveness.
In your testings,
      teach us the grace of believing.

source: Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold patterns for each day
(The Celtic Prayer Book, Volume One)
, by Ray Simpson, p. 288