Message from Bishop Rachel, 28 February 2023

Published: Tuesday February 28, 2023

Bishop RachelI suspect that if you have given anything up for Lent it probably isn’t the mirror. Most of us during Lent will look in the mirror at least once a day, and I wonder if this in itself might be the reminder we need to allow Lent to be a time when we look beyond the surface of our external reflection and discover more of who we are within, and who God is, who knows us inside out and loves us.

A very good place to start is to make prayer and Bible reading part of our daily routine. It is not unlike taking a hard look in a clean mirror – giving a clear reflection of myself, my life and the world in which I live, but it is more than that too. For in it I can also see the reflection of God who is most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ and present with us now through the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are many different resources available  – perhaps ask other people what they find helpful. Across the Church of England, many people will use Common Worship Daily Prayer and a few years ago I wrote something for the National Church to accompany this. I have revisited what I wrote in order to share something with you now as we walk the days of Lent.

The apostle Paul, in his great passage about love, speaks of now seeing “in a mirror dimly” but one day seeing face-to-face: “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Our daily prayer and reading of Scripture is part of that seeing in a mirror dimly, and it is also part of our deep yearning for an ever-clearer vision of our God. As we read Scripture, the past and the future converge in the present moment. We hear words from long ago – much of which can appear strange and confusing – and yet, the Holy Spirit is living and active in the present. In this place of relationship and revelation we open ourselves to the possibility of being changed; of being reshaped in a way that is good for us and all creation.

I am fortunate in being able to start each day in a quiet place and I personally find it helpful to begin Morning Prayer by lighting a candle. For me, this marks my intentionality and my acknowledgement of Christ’s presence with me. It is also a silent prayer for illumination; and amidst the revelation of Scripture and the cries of my heart, the constancy of the tiny flame bears witness to the hope and light of Christ amidst all that is and will be.

When the candle is extinguished, I endeavour to be still as I watch the smoke disappear. For me, it is symbolic of my prayers merging with the day. And I know that my prayer and the reading of Scripture is most definitely not the smoke and mirrors of delusion. Rather, it is about encounter and discovery as I seek to venture into the day to love and serve the Lord as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I pray that this Lent we may each discover new depths to prayer individually and in community.

This comes with my thanks and prayers as ever.

+ Rachel



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