Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
These are challenging times for all of us. We are now confined to our own homes and may be separated from those we love. No longer is there an opportunity to benefit from the social contact and fellowship which is so supportive of our faith. At such a time, we could feel despair, or attempt to fill our lives with the things that have been neglected, tidying up rooms, sorting out old photographs, catching up with books we haven’t read and with correspondence and emails… these are all worthwhile activities.
However, it also provides an opportunity for us to focus on what supports the heart of our faith, and supports our well-being – the daily reading of Scripture. You may well be doing this already in your own way, possibly using a study book or an app. on the internet, and that’s absolutely great and this message may not be for you. Others may welcome some encouragement to use our time to focus on God’s Word and to meditate upon it.
The foundation of the Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer (1662) provides an excellent starting point for something that is no longer practiced consistently in our churches. This is an extract from the Preface and the Instructions concerning the service of the Church:
“… all the whole Bible (or the greatest part thereof) should be read over once every year; intending thereby, that the Clergy, and especially such as were Ministers in the congregation, should (by often reading, and meditation in God’s word) be stirred up to godliness themselves, and be more able to exhort others by wholesome doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the truth; and further, that the people (by daily hearing of holy Scripture read in the Church) might continually profit more and more in the knowledge of God, and be the more inflamed with the love of his true Religion.
And all Priests and Deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer either privately or openly, not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause. And the Curate that ministereth in every Parish-Church or Chapel, being at home, and not being otherwise reasonably hindered, shall say the same in the Parish-Church or Chapel where he ministereth, and shall cause a Bell to be tolled thereunto a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear God’s Word, and to pray with him.”
Since I was Licensed as an Evangelist some 18 months ago, I have learnt to value the daily reading of Scripture, based on the Lectionary. Each day there is a Psalm, Old and New Testament reading, working sequentially through the Bible. I have found the time spent in this reading has become the most blessed part of my day and I now rely on it to sustain my own faith. I commend it to you also.
If you would like to join with me in prayer, I have attached a short form of Morning Prayer which the Ministry Team have been using for our weekly meetings. This is straightforward and provides a good preparation and response to the readings and an opportunity to pray for the tremendous needs and challenges in the world today. The Lectionary readings for Morning Prayer are available on the Internet through the Church in Wales website, but I could provide a weekly list for those who would prefer it.
If you would like to participate in this, please let me know and we can pray that God will speak to each of our hearts as we meditate on his Word together, from our separate homes.
Wishing you every blessing through these dark times, until we can meet together again.