by Fiona Fidgin
…to the last in our series through Lent where we have been exploring different ways of praying.
When this series started on Ash Wednesday, you were invited to think about how you pray, what helps you to pray, and what is your prayer life like?
I wonder if any of the practises we have invited you to try, or the conversations we have listened to during Lent have helped, challenged, or deepened your prayer life at all?
During Lent we have prayed
using the Ignatian tradition an imaginative contemplation of the Gospels,
using art, colour texture,
praying with or through music,
exploring digital possibilities,
praying with the current news and thinking about the times when life is hard and God seems miles away,
walking and pilgrimage.
There are many ways to pray and of course we have only touched the surface here. But I wonder if there has been anything that has stood out for you - especially if you have been following the series throughout Lent.
For me, a few things have stood out. Firstly, my friend Alison took a picture of a flower and wrote on her social media page, “I notice that I am noticing!” I wanted to scream "Yes!", "Fantastic!" I loved the way she responded to the invitation to just become more aware of God’s presence around us. It is that awareness that opens ourselves to prayer.
“I notice that I am noticing!”
Secondly my friend Jimi, who spoke to us about prayer and music, talked about the overtones of God. Well, he originally talked about the overtones in music – when we hear one note but, in fact, that one note is made up of many other notes called ‘overtones’ which we don’t always hear. Jimi invited us to think about the overtones of God – I loved that expression and it’s one that will stay with me for a long time as I explore what that means for me – how am I listening to God? What am I not hearing that I might need to tune in to?
I loved the way Carol Marples invited us to think about our names and how we had written our names at various stages in our lives. I was drawn back to my 5-year-old self, writing the words FIONA in my Enid Blyton books or playing around with my signature in my teenage years.
And lastly my friend Helen texted me to ask when was I going to explore the fruits of prayer?
Perhaps this is our prayer challenge for Easter Sunday - what are the fruits of your prayer life? How might they be known to you and to the world?
This week, I spoke to Archbishop Jonathan Blake from the Open Episcopal Church and we reflected on the prayer practises of Good Friday (walking the Stations of the Cross, or a Walk of Witness), to the silence and waiting of Holy Saturday, to the excitement of the dawn breaking through and the first fire of Easter lit with the light and hope that resurrection brings. Jonathan challenges us to think about our prayer practice beyond the rituals of the Easter weekend to how we live out the resurrection in our own lives and in our own communities, to those who are hungry, to those who are poor, to those who seeks justice – how do we show the love and compassion of Jesus in the world?
John 20: 1-18
The Resurrection of Jesus
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Each week we offer you an opportunity to try out new ways of praying and to see how this deepens your prayer life.
You might like to pray with the scripture reading.
What is this saying to you today?
If you have been following the series, you might want to reflect on what has stood out for you?
What do you want to say to God about this?
What is God saying to you?
You might also want to respond to the challenge that Archbishop Jonathan suggests, when I asked him how we might pray as Easter people:
“Find Jesus!” he said, “in somebody or some community who has suffered outrage today, who’s suffering today, find him in the news and ask yourself what can I do to assist this situation? How can I raise this situation from the tomb to the light? Then on Easter Sunday develop an action plan for the situation. It may not solve the whole thing, but what it does is it lights a candle in the darkness, it affirms the fact that there can be goodness beyond evil, and it shows me that I'm an active proponent of that goodness. I am Jesus’s hands and heart and eyes and mind in the world today. He's alive in me and in you and all those good people who are doing something to show love in the world and to stop people’s suffering.”