Take a moment to be still and to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ before reading the scriptures. If you are in the company of others, invite someone to read the text aloud.
If you are gathering with your family, invite someone to read this reflection aloud.
As well as offering aloud our original prayers, this week our community is reciting a received prayer of St. Patrick, which you can find below. For centuries, the church has practiced the Celtic discipline of putting on St. Patrick’s breastplate through a prayer that tethers us once again to the strong name of the Trinity. Through these ancient words, we are reminded of how close and comprehensive Christ’s presence is. Jesus is closer than our very breath, as He hems us within His embrace.
There is a line in Patrick’s prayer that reminds us that whichever direction we look, all we see is Jesus:
“Christ behind me, Christ before me.”
Christ is behind you.
I’ve come to see that Christ has a backwards walk, ministering deeply into our backstory. In this present moment, none of us stand unscathed. Memories of the past may haunt us as we recollect upon the unresolved, our failed attempts or the actions we failed to even attempt.
Yet the God of history moves backwards, healing our histories.
In the rearviewmirror we can see Christ behind us, tending to our wounds and accepting us even when we were most broken. All that we wish to forget is within the range of redemption, as we come to see that Christ has never left us; never once forsaking us. As we stand from this present vantage point, all we see are traces of grace, for every past moment has been marked by the indelible presence of our faithful Friend.
We will also come to see that no experience of our past will be for nothing. There are no wasted days for the disciple whose feet are dusty from the Rabbi’s footsteps. For even in the overlooked, strained days when all we could muster up was a “Yes” or a wordless “Amen”, feeling that we should have done more, we can come to see that those were formative days when Jesus worked harder than we did, rooting us with a robust stability enabling us to keep on going.
Christ goes before you.
As Naomi pushes her away, Ruth responds with pure devotion:
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.”
Ruth’s commitment to Naomi is unwavering. These words chime with the depth of union that we have with Christ, as we are bound together through an interweaving love. Nothing can hold Christ back from His desire to dwell with us; we are grafted together, forever. We can’t push Him away, for if we wander into the depths or drift towards the far side of the sea, even there His right hand will be wrapped around us.
Up ahead, Christ is there. Alpha has always been around, but He is also the Omega, the destination of our lives. Jesus is our beginning and our end. Whatever life may bring, Christ goes before us and can be trusted with our futures. We may be uncertain of what is to come, yet as Jesus leads us, the future is not quite so unknown anymore.
Today is another strained Tuesday, one that you may never look back over again. However can I encourage you to take a few quiet moments to consider how bonded your life is with Christ?
And as you do, may you look back over the contours of your past and ahead over the valleys and hills that lie before you, paying attention to the with-ness of Jesus, for He is your history and your horizon.
Depending on which time of day you are practicing this office, you can use the morning or evening prayer. All to pray the following words aloud.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same,
The three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation;
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation.
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
If you are gathering with your family, wait a moment and listen for the voice of God. Prayerfully share any words, pictures, encouragements or scriptures with each other by the laying on of hands.
Whether you are by yourself, or in the company of others, take time to pray for others that the Holy Spirit brings to mind, blessing them in His name.
Close your time by singing or saying aloud the Doxology.
“Fight back the dark with doxology. Doxology can detox the day.”
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen and Amen.