Sunday, 9 December 2012

Submission from "An (un)Common Book of Hours", compiled by Peter Watkins PhD ASH WEDNESDAY Readings: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 & Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 JUDGEMENT It is human nature to judge. We judge a person’s looks, their clothes, their voice and accent, their education and background. And we think “oh, you must be this-or-that sort of person” and decide whether, in principle we will like them or not. But a person who to me looks cute, may to you look dull; to me seem bright, to you seem cocky; to me seem refined, to you seem snooty. Not all of your friends can be my friends, nor mine yours. We judge, but we come to different verdicts. The Bible is full of anxiety about judgement. There is even an Old Testament book called “Judges”, in which the people of Israel do well under a good judge, and badly under a bad one. The prophets constantly pronounce God’s judgement on the people of Israel and their behaviour. But every so often we see a glimmer of something much more interesting. Our reading from Joel shows us that judgement by God is something to look forward to – “for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love”. We’re not expecting this. Joel is telling us that being judged by God is infinitely better than being judged by the caprice and expediencies of human judges. As we look forward to the season of Lent – and let’s look forward to it – our readings point us towards that merciful God, the God to whom we can confess our sins in penitence and faith, because all that we have done “through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault”, he knows already and has forgiven. But we in turn must forgive. That is Lent’s greatest challenge – not to give things up, but to grow into the most characteristic aspect of the God in whose image and likeness we are made – to forgive, as we are forgiven. For God’s sake. Amen. God our Father, hear our prayer of penitence for all that we have done amiss; for the wrongs we have done; for the times we have cheated others; for the anger and fury we have carried in our hearts; for the indolence and indifference that has soured the good times you have offered us, and the friendships we might have made; guide us by your grace to make amends for what we have done amiss, and to strive towards that glorious day, when we too might rise to the fullness of the stature of Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen. Almighty God, the Prophets called, your Son bore witness, and in every generation you send your saints and seers with the challenge of Good News; give us ears to hear, and eyes to see, what our work must be in this broken world; give us courage and confidence to work for the peace of the world, to hold out the hand of friendship to neighbours we know, and neighbours far off; to share what we can of our plenty with those without; that these small sacrifices might be pleasing in your sight. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. In this season of Lent, give us your grace to grow in faithfulness, to show forth your love in the world, by word, and deed, and prayer, and to know your promise to be with us always, as a light in our lives, and the inspiration of our souls. Amen. God our

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