I am leading a reflection on Sunday and have chosen the theme of commitment. Below is what I have written so far and I would love any thoughts, comments, contributions please. If you are interested I have used the prayer based on Romans 12 as part of a discussion on the prayers we use at Jason Clark's site.
I don't know about you, but I often start off with the best intentions of following Jesus only to realise at some point that I've stopped. Sometimes i have stopped deliberately because i want to do my own thing in my own way. Sometimes i don't even realise I have stopped, I am just overwhelmed and swept away by the deluge of life.
Let us pause for a moment, to be still, to breathe God in. To allow the Holy Spirit to help us resurface from our thoughts, feelings and circumstances that so often smother us.
Holy Spirit we ask you to show us the selfish places of our lives, those places where we have turned again to follow our own ways and desires rather than those of your Kingdom.
Inspired by the words of Paul in his letter to the Romans, let us pray:
Father, please help us to take our everyday, ordinary life—our sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before you as an offering.
Jesus, please help us to remember that embracing what you are doing for us is the best thing we can do for you.
Holy Spirit, please don’t let us become so well-adjusted to our culture that we fit into it without even thinking. Instead, help us fix our attention on you so that you change us from the inside out.
Our God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, created us, loves us and searches for us one by one. Just as in the story Jesus told, the shepard leaves the 99 sheep to seek out the one that has gone astray, the woman searches her house for the missing coin and the Father rushes down the road to embrace his lost son.
But that is only the beginning of our story, for God does not leave us to remain locked in our prisons of self centred, private living. We are liberated by Christ so that we can be for each other, just as in the story the lost sheep is carried back to the flock, the coin is returned to its purse and the son is restored to his place in his family.
As his community we are being formed in the image of God. Our God, who in Jesus shows us how to live out a life for others, in obedience to the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Together as his community of new creations let us now commit together to live out the way of Jesus, a life in this world of radical, selfless, loving service to all of God’s creation.
Before we sing together, I want to read for us a poem by Adrian Plass about the life of commitment. The poem is called ‘When I became a Christian.’
When I Became a Christian, by Adrian Plass
When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, Your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – I think.
But , Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – a bit.
Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good Book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true, he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – tomorrow.
He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me,
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit.
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said, Amen! – I quit.
I’m very sorry, Lord, I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said, forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done?
Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in lonliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry,
When the nails break your body – are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again.
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.