With regret, the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer Executive has had to cancel this year’s Consultation (OMG! The Priority of Prayer) in Winnipeg.
We feel that it was ultimately in the best interest of Diocesan and Parish Representatives, and all AFP members, and the work that you do in all of the regions, to re-examine what will be of greatest service to support the work that you do.
Thank you for your understanding
Suggested Scripture: John 19: 25 – 20:10
It is a little after three in the afternoon on the hilltop. It is now some time since the last of the crucifed figures has stirred. At this point the centurion in charge of the execution moves towards the small squad who have worked this shift with him. The time has come to carry out what was considered to be a small act of mercy. It will at least bring the obscene process to an end.
In the case of the middle prisoner, long experience of these executions tells the centurion that he has been dead for some time. He signals for the legs of the two others to be broken.
Because the centurion is well aware that this is not an ordinary criminal execution, but that it also involves an element of politics, its possible he may at this stage have taken the opportunity to look around to see who had remained throughout the whole dreadful process. If he did so he would first become aware of a group of four, three of them women. He had noticed them there from the very beginning, three women and a young man. They were preparing to go, at least the three younger people were obviously trying to pursuade the older woman to come away. It was obvious that she was exhausted almost to the point of collapse.
If the centurion had looked further down the slope he would have seen a large group of women. If he had looked even further something unusual might have sparked his interest. Standing together, aloof from all others, were two men who, at least by the quality of their dress and the confidence of their bearing, were in some way official.
Some distance apart from the pair were other men moving about restlessly. They were obviously rural and rather unkempt. From his various periods of army service around the country the centurion mentally pegged them as Galilean. The interesting thing he noticed was that, while they paced about restlessly, they seemed reluctant to gather as a group, as if they did not want to be noticed as such. He made a mental note to report this to his superior when he made his overall report on the executions of the afternoon.
He gave his men the signal to begin clearing the hill, At this point one of the two official looking spectators came towards him, handed him a document that gave official permission for the body of the prisoner on the middle cross for cleansing and burial. The centurion offered his men to help but the Jewish official said that others who had not yet left the hill would respond to his request for assistance. The centurion realized that the Galilean group he had noticed was already gathering to assist. As he watched them he could not help noting the care and tenderness with which they went about the task. Obviously this had been carefully planned.
The two officials gave directions, the Galilean group of men did the actual removal, then the women were called to the body, which they swiftly wrapped before returning it to be carried away.
The centurion looked again at the sheet giving permission from the Procurator for all this to take place. He noticed that one of the Jewish officials had arranged for the body to be placed in a private tomb on his estate. By now he and his men were alone on the hill. Glad that his day’s duty was over, the centurian dismissed the men, walked to his waiting horse, and left to begin writing his report while it was still vivid in his mind.
What that long ago centurion would not report , because he was not even dimly arare of it, was that, while he had most certainly witnessed a death, he had also witnessed the birth of something that would in a comparatively short time not only affect the vast empire he served but would spread to lands and peoples of whom neither he nor any other living person at that time was even aware of. He had been present at the birth of christian faith.
When we as inheritors of a 2000 year christian tradition come to consider the scene on that long ago hill, we can see that even in the very first hours after Jesus’ death, even before anyone is thinking of resurrection as anything other than a desperate hope, a community of believers has already emerged! Why is this important?
For over that two thousand years we Christians continue try to pierce the mystery we call Resurrection. As we do so, we can easily miss the fact that whatever it means to say that Jesus rose from the tomb, something else rose from the events of that long ago day, something we can instantly and clearly understand.
That something is who we are, the Christian community. We are the people on the hill. (words 836)
Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
When the young Roman guard asked them to keep back from the area she noticed that he was little more than a boy. The thought occurred to her that he must feel vulnerable at such moments as this. Around them milled a crowd, among them friends and family of the condemned, some half crazed with grief. If the prisoner was political there was the possibility of a rescue attempt, especially in the early stages of the crucifixion process.
She had arrived in Bethany too late to meet him before he had left for the city with his followers. She felt a passing twinge of resentment but she put it aside. By this time she had become used to being second to the demands of what he regarded as his ministry. As she tried to get some rest she had heard the visitors coming and going in the house, but she knew she was being allowed to rest because there was no good news to tell her.
Very late at night they woke her to let her know that he had been taken. As the young man told her of the impending trial, she knew that he was deliberately refraining from telling her of the possibility of execution. To her own surprise she found herself comforting him. When he asked her what she wished to do when the time came she said calmly that she wished to go to wherever her son would be. Again she tried to get some sleep.
In the early morning she left with her sister and the young woman from Magdale whom she barely knew. As she walked the last few hundred yards towards the area where the crosses stood in the ground, they seemed to grow in height. When she was close enough to see features she forced herself to look. She was glad of an arm supporting her.
At first a wild hope grasped her that it was not her son at all. The body was revealed in total degradation and defilement. She found herself thinking that it was no worse than countless others had suffered. Like most people she had always avoided any acquaintance with the obscene process of crucifixion.
As the young Roman guard ordered them to keep their distance, they shuffled back some yards. She looked across the filthy ground between them and the crosses. It occurred to her that all her life she had been distanced from her son. Even when she and Joseph had taken him as child to the temple she had had to look across a barrier as the priest took the baby and later returned him. Almost always it was across barriers and walls and chasms and crowds that their relationship had been conducted and their elusive love communicated. Of one thing she was certain, that he had loved her. Even if they had not often spoken it, she knew it to be real and lasting.
Someone told them how long it had been since the execution had begun. It now looked as if the end was not far off. By now the front of the crowd had inched forward again. She was aware with mingled terror and joy that he had opened his eyes and seemed to have seen them. She could see his lips moving, trying to form some word. Careless now of any restraint she moved forward to try to catch the sound.
When the whispered croaking sank to silence she moved back. In that moment, by the whispered statement of her dying son, this young man who had joined them and now stood beside her, had now become her son and she his mother. This evidence of her own son’s concern for her, even in his extreme agony, was for her a mingling of pain and appreciation.
With the help of her sister and of the young woman from Magdala who had come with them, she began to move away. She never heard the terrible cry of desolation that took all but his last breath.
An hour or so later a Roman lance pierced his side. If she had seen it she might have recalled the old man Simeon tenderly returning her newborn son to her arms in the temple all those years ago. She might have remembered his looking at her intently as he spoke very quietly. “One day” he had said, “a sword will piece your heart”.
One day…To a new young mother it had sounded so far in the future, and anyweay she had had no idea what the old man meant.
As they came down the hill she would have fallen on the treacherous path, had not her sister and the young woman of Magdala supported her.
I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God.
A couple of years ago I began to question some of the thoughts in my head more than I normally would and, how I was spending some of my time.
I am grateful that I have been in the Anglican church since I was born. I had enough sense to pray about what to do because I figured I was going crazy and I might act in a way that would destroy my marriage.
By Paul Dumbrille.
Christians are called to do their best to bring God into their daily lives. Prayer, in its many forms, is the way we establish and maintain a connection with God. If we are to be the best we can be, and follow Jesus, we need to make prayer a priority in our lives. Personal prayer is central, but prayer in our family, church congregation, Diocese and community is also important. This is not done without making prayer a priority in all of these settings.
Continue reading “The Priority of Prayer”
By Paul Dumbrille
Names are important. When we meet someone for the first time, the first question we usually ask is what that person’s name is. To start a relationship, we want to find out the name of the one we are communicating with. Once we learn the name of another person, we associate that name with the circumstance(s) in which we met them; how long we’ve known them, and what our relationship is with them. Sometimes we give them nickname. In my case, my last name has invited a variety of nicknames, usually starting with “Dumb”. Sometimes we add a modifier to the name or nickname (e.g. “Crazy Canucks”). One of the first things we do when we acquire a pet, is to give it a name. Names are important. In the English-speaking world, we most often use the name “God” when referring to, and addressing, the Divine Presence (a name in itself), and we often add a modifier such as “Loving” and “Gracious” to the name of God, to express what we feel are the characteristics of the God we know. The words we use cannot adequately describe the mystery of the Divine, even though we try. In connecting with God, it is important to consider the name(s) we use in prayer. The word(s) we use in addressing God often reveal what our image of God is, what we consider God’s character is, and/or our feelings about God at particular times.
Continue reading “What is in a Name”
What are you doing on the first week of June, 2018? Why not consider joining us at our national gathering where diocesan representatives and others interested in prayer, come together to consult, to encourage, to learn and to be inspired by their work. Continue reading “Registration form for the 2018 national consultation”
By Paul Dumbrille
If your experience of prayer is anything like mine, at times you wonder if God is really there when you pray. Sometimes we have a deep sense of God’s presence, and sometimes we have no sense of the Divine reality. We can’t imagine that God exists. Sometimes we have deep feelings about God’s goodness and love, and sometimes we feel only boredom and distraction. Sometimes our eyes become teary, and sometimes they wander to our wristwatch to see how much more time we still need to spend in prayer. Sometimes we would like to stay in our place of prayer forever, and sometimes we can hardly wait to look at our smartphone. Prayer has a huge ebb and flow.
Continue reading “Is God Always There?”
By Paul Dumbrille
Does it matter where we pray? Yes and no. If one trusts that God is in everything and everything is in God, then God is available to us in prayer at any time and in any place. The important thing is not where we pray, but that we pray, and in what spirit it is done. However, my experience, and the experience of many others over time, is that physical place makes a difference. The outer place impacts our ability to tap into our inner space, where we can more easily access the Divine Presence. In seeking a meaningful relationship with God through prayer, it can be helpful to ask ourselves some questions related to space and place. Where are we most comfortable in prayer? What does our prayer space look like? We may find that the place or the space we normally use for prayer is no longer working for us. Maybe there are distractions within our spaces and places of prayer that did not initially exist. In past eras when crime inside churches was rare, the church sanctuaries were open most, if not all, of the time, ready for anyone with spiritual needs to come in and pray in peace. Sadly, the fears, expense, staffing and effort to keep churches always open today is too much for most congregations. But then, where can we pray? Anywhere, but often our lives and our world get in the way. There is still a need for a place to go, set aside for prayer, set up to help us in the act of praying. Continue reading “Prayer and Place”