Hearing & Trusting the Living Word: Lent 5, 2020
For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit,
rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
-Colossians 2:5 (ESV)
A dose of St. Paul's faith in Jesus is good medicine for this pandemic-induced season of social distancing.
St. Paul's faith in Jesus and also his experiences in and with the Holy Spirit would have contributed, together, to build his certainty so that he could write the ancient church in Colossae—believers he had never met in person—and assure them that he is with him in spirit. This isn't simply St. Paul keeping them in his "thoughts and prayers." He means a real presence with them through their shared faith and participation in the person, work, and mission of Jesus. "Because both live in Christ, he is present in spirit with them," writes Peter O'Brien. And N.T. Wright says, "Paul is there in spirit, like a general inspecting the troops before a battle."
This gives us confidence as we pray in our homes this season. Let's ask for the Spirit's help in trusting and experiencing this truth about the Church and the churches. We are members—limbs and organs—of Jesus' body (1 Cor. 12:12-13, 27) through faith, Holy Baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us in our praying (Rom. 8:26). We also have the historic wealth of the Book of Common Prayer by which our prayers are woven into one. This will be a rich season in which we experience both the sovereign providence and personal presence of Jesus through Scripture, common prayer, and personal prayer. For this Sunday's worship, I suggest that we offer in our homes Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer. We have guides on our website for both of these. https://www.incarnationbcs.org/morning-and-evening-prayer
Here's is another resource for daily prayer. https://www.dailyoffice2019.com
And for families with younger children or any who desire a short office of prayer, we have this option.
We are directed in the 2019 Book of Common Prayer, when using Morning Prayer for the main worship service on a Sunday, to use the Sunday readings for the Holy Eucharist. So you'll need to do a little extra effort to substitute readings with the resources above.
I suggest this pattern: Psalm 130 as the Psalm, the lesson from Romans as a first reading, then the lesson from John as a second reading. If you would prefer only one reading, then I suggest the reading from John.
Finally, relax and rejoice in Jesus' promised presence through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Embrace the interruptions. Welcome the clumsy page turns or moves between web sites. We are making memories and building faith. God is the one at work among us "to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).
(Click on the links below to read Sunday's passages)
First Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130 (full text from 2019 BCP below)
Second Reading: Romans 6:15-23
Gospel Reading: John 11:1-44
130 De profundis
1 Out of the deep have I called unto you, O Lord; *
Lord, hear my voice. 2 O let your ears consider well *
the voice of my supplications. 3 If you, Lord, were to mark what is done amiss, *
O Lord, who could abide it? 4 For there is mercy with you; *
therefore you shall be feared. 5 I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; *
in his word is my trust. 6 My soul waits for the Lord, *
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning. 7 O Israel, trust in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, *
and with him is plenteous redemption; 8 And he shall redeem Israel *
from all their sins.