Text For The Month / Monatsspruch
Texts for the months of April and May 2011
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
Since the late nineteenth century views of the Old City of Jerusalem have been dominated by the glistening gold onion domes of the Russian Orthodox church of St Mary Magdalene built on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, near the Garden of Gethsemane. Behind the high walls that enclose the church grounds is a beautiful garden of vines and olive trees through which worshippers wind they way up to the entrance of the church. Strategically placed in one of the flowerbeds is a hand-written sign: Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
Watch and pray. The biblical scene is that of Jesus praying at night as he struggles with what lies ahead of him: his arrest, trial and crucifixion. Whilst for the majority of us night is the time for rest, for many the night is the time for work; for many the night is the time for prayer.
Perhaps in a large city we are more aware of those who work on the ‘night watch’: nurses on night shifts, the emergency services, those cleaning offices or supporting the city’s infrastructure. Perhaps from experience each of us is aware of those who are awake at night: parents of new-born babies, those who care for a sick loved one, those who cannot sleep.
Some Christians (including the Russian Orthodox Sisters on the Mount of Olives and the Sisters at the Tyburn Convent at Marble Arch) commit themselves to praying in the middle of the night: offering to God in prayer the life of his creation.
An ancient prayer for the start of the night is: Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake.
Watch and pray. Christians pray and express their faith and their longing for God in many different ways. One way is the prayer of silence: prayer without words. This is the prayer of waiting on God. It is given expression in Psalm 130: I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.
In some churches part of the observance of Maundy Thursday is a ‘watch’, a vigil of silent prayer.
Whilst most of us don’t structure our working week and family time around long vigils of prayer or rising at 2am to sing hymns and psalms, it is possible for us ‘like night-watchman looking for the morning’ to look for the presence of God and the movement of the Spirit in our busy daily lives.
The days of preparation for the joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection at Easter are usually observed in a spirit of simplicity. The traditional disciplines of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving encourage in us an openness to the call of God in the present, a mindfulness about the way we live and the effects of the choices we exercise, and generosity and hospitality to others.
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. Jesus’ prayer, the Our Father, asks that we are not led into temptation. Another translation is that we are not brought to the time of trial. The early Christians knew that they would be judged by the values of the Kingdom of God and that they must ‘keep watch’, be vigilant in the way they lived and thus strengthen for the ways they would be tested.
The scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is an invitation to watch and pray with Jesus and with all who are suffering. It is also a reminder that Jesus watches and waits with us and that there is no human experience or ordeal outside God’s understanding or compassion.
As we read the account of Jesus’ Passion in the Gospels and keep the days of Holy Week and Easter we can discover for ourselves what the first disciples discovered: that the Jesus who teaches us how to pray also teaches us how to live.
The Revd Graham Miller,
Der Gott der Hoffnung aber erfülle euch mit aller Freude und Frieden im Glauben, dass ihr immer reicher werdet an Hoffnung durch die Kraft des Heiligen Geistes. Römer 15,13
Was ist Reichtum? Unwillkürlich denken viele von uns erstmal an Geld und Gut. Dann kommen vielleicht Gesundheit, Familie und Freunde in den Blick. Haben sie schon mal an Hoffnung gedacht, wenn das Thema Reichtum auf den Tisch kam?
Aber bei näherer Betrachtung ist es gar nicht so abwegig. Was will ich mit Millionen und Milliarden auf der Bank, wenn ich keinerlei Hoffnung habe, nichts worauf ich mich freue? Was nützt ein gesunder Körper, wenn die Seele krank und hoffnungslos ist? Worauf hoffen Sie?
Wir Glaubenden haben die Hoffnung, dass Gott bei uns ist, auch wenn Reichtum, Gesundheit, Familie und Freunde nicht da sind. Wir können in Frieden darauf vertrauen, dass dieses Leben nicht alles ist. Spätestens seit Ostern haben wir diese Hoffnung.
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