Tag Archive: Holy Spirit

Sunday after Ascension Day

To begin with his disciples were at a bit of a loose end. That is not to say that they had no chores to get on with. Think of it like this: someone you are close to has just left town. You have said your last ‘good bye’ and now the train/plane/taxi has disappeared from view and you have the rest of the day to yourself. You know that it is likely that the next time that they will come and visit will be for your funeral. In your heart you wish it were not so, but you realise that with the difficulty of the journey it is so. I dare say most of us as some point or other in our lives have had to say ‘good bye’ like that.

Then what? We should get on with the rest of the day whether it’s going back to work, finishing the weekly shop, doing the household chores. But if we had set aside the whole morning then there is no rush. What do we, their family and/or friends, do now? Isn’t there a kind of listlessness; we are not yet quite ready to get back to normal – or rather to the “new normal” that we have begun to realise?

I sense it would have been a bit like that for Jesus’s disciples except for the fact that he had given them a task to do: to pray and wait together; to pray for and to wait for the Holy Spirit.

Today’s novena topic is prayer for the marginalised. We might have a specific group in mind but I suspect that in every walk of life we may be surprised to find out who are the marginalised in our sphere life.

A Prayer for the Sunday after AScension Day

Risen, ascended Lord, s we rejoice at your triumph, fill your Church on earth with power and compassion, so that all who are estranged by sin may find forgiveness and know your peace, to the glory of God the Father. Amen. (Common Worship: Additional Collect)


Nine days of Prayer

On the one hand, this idea might seem superfluous. I guess that while some of us pray every day, the rest do not feel the need to at all. So, if someone comes up with a suggestion for nine days of prayer, some of us may say “but I pray anyway” and to the rest the suggestion is irrelevant.

Even so, I think it does help sometimes to have something that helps focus the mind. And there is something to be said for praying with others – either at the same time, same place or with the same intention – it gives us a sense of solidarity (or “fellowship” or “catholicity” depending on your tradition).

Anyway, I was intrigued to read that Premier Christian Radio (broadly Evangelical) was inviting us to join in a novena of prayer. A novena is firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition but the basic idea is quite straight forward. Nine days are set aside to pray with a particular intention in mind. On those days we make an extra effort and are reminded to take prayer seriously – it is too easy to end up just “going through the motions” (or “vain repetition” as the gospel puts it).

On this occasion the nine days take us from Ascension Day to Pentecost Sunday which mirrors the period of prayer and waiting that Jesus’ disciples undertook. After Jesus went back home to heaven the disciples prayed together until the day, 50 days after Easter, the Holy Spirit came upon them in a new, powerful and inspiring way – see the first chapter of the book of Acts. There is a tradition, therefore, in some churches to regard these days as being particularly appropriate to pray especially for the coming and/or renewing of the Holy Spirit in our world and in our lives.

I think I shall give this novena a try, and see how the days go. You can sign up for resources (see link here) or simply include the suggested topics among your own prayers.

Novena 2015
Day 1: Friday 15th May
Prayer for the elderly
Day 2: Saturday 16th May
Prayer for men
Day 3: Sunday 17th May
Prayer for the marginalised
Day 4: Monday 18th May
Prayer for young people
Day 5: Tuesday 19th May
Prayer for women
Day 6: Wednesday 20th May
Prayer for those suffering from mental health issues
Day 7: Thursday 21st May
Prayer for singles
Day 8: Friday 22nd May
Prayer for leaders
Day 9: Saturday 23rd May
Prayer for children

It may well be you’re thinking that you would not have chosen all these particular topics – you are at liberty to choose your own, of course.

Third Sunday of Lent 2013

lent 2013 001bTry to learn what pleases the Lord.

(Ephesians chapter 5 verse 10, GNB)

It might seem obvious to a committed Christian that pleasing the Lord, pleasing Jesus, doing what God wants, is precisely what we should be doing all the time. But how do we know? Yes, read the Bible, of course, but that still has to be interpreted. Yes, following the prompting of the Holy Spirit – but those promptings have to be tested to make sure they are from God and not from an overactive imagination.

I think what I have learnt is that learning what pleases the Lord is not something we can do very well on our own. That means listening to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to those who are also willing to learn what pleases Him – and actually to put it into practice. So when I read the Bible I might also read a commentary, or I listen to what is preached on Sunday, or have a conversation at dinner. There are times when I get hold of something better after a good discussion; or rather, I know what I believe after an argument with someone who disagrees with me. That might not be what family meal time is intended for, but it does help that the people who answer back are not trying to flatter you!

I was stopped the other day by someone who wanted to convert me to Christianity. It was a difficult conversation because they seemed to think that if I was wearing a clerical collar it meant that I needed saving. I tried to explain that just because I went to a different church to his and used a liturgy, it did not mean I was prevented from loving our Lord and Saviour; in fact I had said ‘yes’ to Him, had accepted his grace and was doing my best to follow Jesus (albeit imperfectly). Well, we swapped Bible verses a few times but it was not a proper conversation. He kept telling that I should do such and such – and I would tell him I already did. Or he would say something like “You can’t earn a place in heaven; all your rituals and good works don’t mean you’re going to heaven.” and I would confuse him by agreeing with him. I’m sorry to say I ended up just wishing the dialogue would end.

I don’t always know if I have pleased the Lord, but I am willing to try to learn.

A prayer from “Common Worship”

Eternal God, give us insight to discern your will for us, to give up what harms us, and to seek the perfection we are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Additional Collect, Lent 3)

Ash Wednesday 2013

lent 2013 001bFull of the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…When the Devil finished testing Jesus he left him until a favourable time.

(Luke chapter 4 verses 1 &13)

So Lent begins and as I write I’m not quite sure how best to mark it. We have our usual Ash Wednesday liturgy and the reminder of our mortality and the need to repent of our sins so I shall be at church for the official beginning of Lent. But then what?

One discipline I have decided upon is to look at the readings for Sundays during Lent as found in the Book of Common Prayer – often referred to by its date of first publication, 1662. I looked at some reviews on Amazon and one person was most disappointed because they were expecting a facsimile of a 17th century book. In fact the Book of Common Prayer (aka BCP or 1662) is still in use today in the Church of England so the 21st century edition is slightly different from previous ones. An obvious example is that in prayers for the monarch it is Elizabeth II who is mentioned, not Charles II! However, the language and doctrine are firmly rooted in the 16th and 17th centuries, which for some is an attraction but for others a disadvantage. It is not a book I regularly use but it has been part of Anglican culture for centuries so worth at least a second look.

Meanwhile, here I am at the beginning of Lent thinking of giving up chocolate (again), and planning on attending the parish Lent course. Yet, I am struck by a familiar question, “What would Jesus do?”. If He were in my shows, what would he do? And I find I am not sure: I don’t think I am expected to travel to the Holy Land to spend 40 days in the wilderness to be tested. I suspect that “ordinary life” will provide temptation enough. One thing I do want like Jesus: to be led by the Spirit to and through the wilderness. Because if we are not led into the desert by the Spirit we might as well go as tourists. Just a thought.

A Prayer from “Common Worship”

Heavenly Father, your Son battled with the powers of darkness, and grew closer to you in the desert. Help us to use these days to grow in wisdom and prayer that we may witness to your saving love in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Additional Collect, Lent 1)


I have resisted till now the temptation to comment on this TV comedy in case it sounded like special pleading. However, credit where credit is due, this comedy is good. Mostly not ‘laugh out loud’ funny but clever, witty and may make you smile. The critics seem quietly impressed too.

From the Guardian, John Crace (11th Nov 2011) “Quite deliberately, with little fanfare, Rev. gets to the heart of the modern church by exposing it as both a source of much goodness and a complete irrelevance.” Nice for the writers of “Rev.” although somewhat damning with faint praise for the Church of England. Meanwhile Alison Graham has come round to liking the series (‘Radio Times’ week beginning 26th Nov 2011).

From a technical point of view it makes a change to see a fictional portrayal of the C of E that does not have me shouting at the TV: “that service is not authorised”, “you haven’t done the legal preliminaries”, “a green stole in Advent – you must be mad!” OK so it’s not really that important in a film or some such but other professionals have confessed the same impatience with inaccurate portrayals: real police compared to TV cop shows, real forensic scientists compared to etc … well you get the picture. It’s OK when you remember that it is fiction but people do often get their ideas from what they see on TV.

So far I have not noticed any major gaffes. For example, the prayer used in episode 3 was straight from the service of Compline and appropriate for a house blessing – and the archdeacon was quite right: leave exorcism to the experts. Similarly Rev. was right when he explained that the Holy Spirit is not a ghost, although he did start to get unstuck when he talked about “God’s energy” – He is more than an impersonal force – but I don’t expect systematic theology from a comedy.

Of course some of Rev. is somewhat far-fetched; it is fiction, after all. However, I find that any minor discomfort I may feel is because some of it can be quite close to home. Ministry can feel a bit like Rev. sometimes.

As for what rating I would give: technical accuracy 9 out of ten; story lines: 7 out of ten; laughter: 3 out of ten; feel good factor: 8 out of ten. Overall 7 out of ten or four stars.

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