2017 was designated as a Year of the Bible by our Bishop; and the year included some wonderful events to help us celebrate this book of faith. 2018 has been designated as a year of prayer by Bishop Martin; a year to celebrate our faith worked out in worship and prayer.
The Year of Prayer begins, rather fittingly, on Advent Sunday; the Sunday that begins the church year and also opens up the story of God in our midst. The collect (prayer) for Advent Sunday is a beautiful prayer and best read in the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light, now in this time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever.Â Amen.
What a beautiful prayer; so full of life, light and hope! For centuries, church communities have used these words to ignite faith in the build up to Christmas, recognising that God has come to us in human form and will come again and we shall rise to the life immortal.
Prayer is a vital part of connecting to God’s divine presence; dear God, hear me, help me, support me and those whom I love. – Dear God, help me to help others, make me more compassionate, loving, generous Theresa of Avila wrote there is but one road which reaches God and that is prayer; if anyone shows you another, you are being deceived. The road which reaches before us, paved with our intercessions, illuminated by our words, is a direct link to God, what an amazing thought that is.
So in the year of prayer we challenge ourselves once again to reflect upon our prayer life. Over the year there will be opportunities to study, reflect and engage with this road to God, making sure we use it properly and that it enriches our lives. And use the Christian year to help: Advent prepares us to journey from Darkness to light: Christmas reveals that light to us: Epiphany opens our eyes to God’s purposes: Lent helps us to reflect: Easter brings hope in abundance: Pentecost assures us that God will not leave us without support: Trinity brings God into the presence of community: Christ the King, crowns our year.
So, is the road an easy one for you? Or would you like some help? We all struggle in our own way to pray the road to God, although always open and flowing, it does require us to use it and to understand it; but like all roads, it only works if journey up it, a journey that leads to God.
I pray that your Christmas be a time of peace, rest and family. And for those who will not experience this then let all our prayers be for them.