Fearfully and wonderfully made


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)

 

Here are some radical verses from one of my favourite psalms and a blessing from one of my favourite writers, Jan Richardson of paintedprayerbook.com.

 

You created my inmost being;
     you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am
     fearfully and wonderfully made;
     your works are wonderful,
     I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
     when I was made in the secret place,
     when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
     all the days ordained for me were written in your book
     before one of them came to be.

 
(Psalm 139: 13-16, NIV UK)
 


Known

A Blessing

First
we will need grace.

Then
we will need courage.

Also
we will need
some strength.

We will need
to die a little
to what we have
always thought,
what we have allowed
ourselves to see
of ourselves,
what we have built
our beliefs upon.

We will need this
and more.

Then
we will need
to let it all go
to leave room enough
for the astonishment
that will come
should we be given
a glimpse
of what the Holy One sees
in seeing us,
knows
in knowing us,
intricate
and unhidden

no part of us
foreign
no piece of us
fashioned from other
than love

desired
discerned
beheld entirely
all our days.

 
written by Jan Richardson
from paintedprayerbook.com
 


From the blog:
Body of water

In the school of prayer with the Celtic Saints

 
To all saints, i.e. anyone who is within the Body of Christ …

For many decades now, Celtic Spirituality has been a hot topic, latterly also in my life.

How grateful I am that I was brought into contact with this ancient but holistic faith tradition through ministries like the Iona Community, the Northumbria Community and Abbey of the Arts. The themes and prayers of the ancients and those who seek to follow in their footsteps continue to inform my spirituality and my ministry.

 


Celtic Christianity: a brief introduction

from 2000 Years of Prayer compiled by Michael Counsell, p. 71

“For many centuries the Celtic race occupied and ruled most of Western Europe. Their religion seems to have included a recognition of sacredness in many places, in the events of nature and of daily life, and this continued when they converted to Christianity. Many of their prayers and songs have been passed on by word of mouth and only written down in the [19th] century. Anglo-Saxon invaders drove them into the Celtic fringe of Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, but heroic Celtic missionaries spread the Christian faith, among them St David in Wales, St Patrick in Ireland, St Ninian among the Picts and St Columba from Ireland to the Scots in Scotland, whence it was taken into northern England. The monasteries became great centres of learning, and distinctive artistic styles emerged in carved crosses and illuminated manuscripts. The practical nature of Celtic Christianity led to Pelagius, a British or Irish Celt of the fourth or fifth century (whose Gaelic name was probably Morgan), being branded a heretic by St Augustine. Yet Celtic Christianity has enjoyed a revival in the twentieth century.”

Key features

A blog post on third-space.org.uk features this helpful list:

1.  Monasticism / Living in community
2.  Sacramental principle
3.  Creation affirming
4.  Contemplation and mission
5.  Understanding of time
6.  Hospitality
7.  Spiritual warfare
8.  Trinitarian belief
9.  Love of learning
 
Check out the blog post to explore these characteristics in more detail.

Spiritual warfare: also see the post on encircling prayer.
Trinitarian belief: also see 3 Prayers to the Sacred Trinity.

Let us pray

In closing, here are 3 Celtic or Celtic-inspired prayers with references to our theme of the month, “Light”:

Canticle

Christ, as a light
illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

from Northumbria Community Morning Prayer

God of the saints, hear us

That we may remember always those who have gone before us,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may be inspired by the noble works of old,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may seek to follow the example of the saints,
God of the saints, hear us.
That the church may stand for truth and justice,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may be unafraid to proclaim the gospel,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may lead others to worship you,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may bring your light to dark places,
God of the saints, hear us.

from The Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer by David Adam, p. 134

A blessing

The Father of many resting places grant you rest;
The Christ who stilled the storm grant you calm;
The Spirit who fills all things grant you peace.
God’s light be your light,
God’s love be your love,
God’s way be your way.
And the blessing of God almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest upon you and remain with you always.
Amen.

from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.112
 

Up to us

How does the theme on a journey resonate with you personally? It’s a useful umbrella for all sorts of things, like “Journey through Lent”, for example.

Here’s one of my “on a journey” memories:

Some years ago now I had the opportunity to write a song for a CD project aimed at outdoor types. Not being much of an outdoor type myself, I was very grateful when a fellow commuter – a thoughtful Dutch man who regularly goes on walking holidays – had a lot to say on the subject.

“Do you mind if I take notes?” I asked.

In the 10-minute train ride from Utrecht Central to Houten on my way to work I gathered enough quality material to seed a whole song.

The CD project fizzled out, but the song has become a standard in the Two Doors Down repertoire, with me on guitar and vocals and Margriet on backing vocals and melodica.

Here’s a video of us performing “Up to us” in a noisy cafe in Dordrecht at our EP release in 2014:


Lyrics

1. Out on the trail – part of the landscape
Sensible shoes and good company
The swish, swish of our bodies in motion
I’m lost for words, lost in reverie.

We’ve got all we need to make a memory
Back to basics, minimum fuss
We know where we are
and kind of where we’re going
The rest is up to us (x2)

2. I do admit that nothing much happens
And I forget what we talked about
We cook, eat, sleep and get on with living
I’m walking on air, I’m on walkabout.

Chorus

3. Reading the map we can see the future
Making our way one step at a time
I’m rich, richer than I ever imagined
All I survey, in a way, is mine.

Chorus

We’re part of the elements – the cold, the heat
I’m thankful for every sensation – even sore feet.

Chorus

Blessing

Lord,
Make me a blessing.
Those that I meet
Make me a blessing.
As I walk down the street
Make me a blessing.
This day, even this hour
Make me a blessing.
It lies in your power
Make me a blessing.
At work and at home
Make me a blessing.
Wherever I roam
Make me a blessing.
That people may see
I am a blessing,
For you are with me.

from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p. 108

To Emmaus and back

For the full story, read Luke 24:13-49.

Here is a summary, with some prayer prompts.

Two of Jesus’ disciples are headed for Emmaus, about 2 hours walking distance from Jerusalem. As they walk down this familiar stretch of road their conversation is coloured by a flood of mixed emotions. On the one hand they are reeling from the traumatic events in Jerusalem when their beloved Lord and Master was arrested and killed, and on the other hand there’s the startling testimony of some of their female friends who claim they saw “a vision of angels, who said Jesus was alive” (Luke 24:23).

Pray for vital relationships in your life to share the highs and lows with.

Soon they too would have a startling testimony to share, thanks to a roadside encounter with the risen Lord, who gently but firmly puts them in the picture: “‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

Pray for time and motivation to study the Scriptures, to get God’s perspective and to make it your own.

At this point, the disciples are completely unaware they are in conversation with Jesus, but their hearts are warmed by his words, and they invite him to stay the night, hungry for more. Later, at table, in the breaking of the bread, they realize they have been in the presence of Jesus, risen from the dead. They can’t wait to tell the others, and head straight back to Jerusalem, where there is a further treat in store for them: They get to see the Risen Lord again when he appears to the whole assembly.

Pray that your personal encounters with Jesus will be a blessing to the wider community.

Did you know?

The hymn, Abide with me, alludes to Luke 24:29: “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

by Henry Francis Lyte

Emmaus Blessing

Already a blessing
in the walking

already a blessing
on the road

already a blessing
drawing near

already a blessing
in the listening

already a blessing
in the burning hearts

already a blessing
in the almost evening

already a blessing
in the staying

already a blessing
at the table

already a blessing
in the bread

already a blessing
in the breaking

already a blessing
finally known

already a blessing
give us eyes

already a blessing
let us see.

—Jan Richardson
from paintedprayerbook.com


See also walk, run, soar, especially the Millican’s Meaningful Journeys video (walk).