Once, when the disciples saw Jesus at prayer they said to him, “Lord teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4). We all know what Jesus said in reply; “When you pray say, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”” (Matthew 6:9-10). Perhaps there was something so real, authentic and moving about that experience that the disciples wanted to share it. The significant thing about the Lord’s Prayer is the way it begins and the priorities it sets. It asks that God’s name, character and very being should be hallowed, (reverenced and made holy). This happens when God’s kingdom, authority and kingship is established on earth as it is in heaven. God is glorified when his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. This Lent course is all about seeking first God’s kingdom in the context of all that is happening in the world at the present time. But what does this mean in practical terms, and how can we, as God’s people, become the agents for God’s rule in a tangible way? Concerned about the prevailing social and political crisis, the Archbishop asked a number of people to prepare a Lent course with this question in mind, and what you have before you is a humble, if limited attempt, to suggest some answers. We want to stress that the first response must be prayer, earnest, intentional and committed prayer, asking that God may be the centre of all life and that God’s rule and authority may be taken seriously in the affairs of this world. In the context of such prayer, we are suggesting ways in which God’s people, acting together, might work for a more just and equitable society in the places where they live. If the course deals with political issues it is because the Bible clearly indicates that politics is a part of God’s domain, as is every other aspect of life. Archbishop Thabo often says “God is God of all or no God at all”, as a paraphrasing of Psalm 24. If we leave God out of the political affairs of society we must not be too surprised if the devil fills the gap. However, we would stress that what is said here, and the actions which are recommended, do not arise out of party politics. Our concern has been solely with the issues of JUSTICE and TRUTH, and a desire to see God’s righteousness made visible in human affairs. We have been mindful that not all who use this course live in South Africa, because the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) goes well beyond South Africa’s borders, covering Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola, St Helena and Namibia. We would therefore ask that wherever you are, you try to respond to this course in your own context and in the society in which you live. The course consists of six portions of teaching, one for each week of Lent and they are intended to be used corporately or privately, for prayer, reflection, discussion and preaching. We would recommend that, wherever possible, prayer and reflection on the material should also happen in small groups. Each local parish should be free to use the material in a way that 7 fits with local Lenten custom. The daily readings, which tie in with the weekly themes, are for personal prayer and meditation. We would recommend that each individual, as part of his/her Lent Rule, should set aside a portion of time each day to meditate on, and pray, over these biblical texts and then commit to action. Archbishop Thabo always says do not overlook the power of “one”. We would recommend that the primary method of communicating it to the ACSA will be electronic. Dioceses will need to make their own plans for getting the material to their parishes and where there is awareness that some do not have access to computers, copies be made and distributed. Our prayer is that God will bless and use this course to help us to BE the church, reflecting and acting together in response to God’s promptings. May the grace and peace of God be with us all as we enter upon this Lent, in and through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Week 3: Theme: “Standing and Acting together”
The Third Sunday in Lent: For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed the body does not consist of one member but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
Monday, March 20:
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Tuesday, March 21:
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16) Wednesday,
We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Corinthians 4:5-7)
Thursday, March 23:
As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer a slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27-28)
Friday, March 24:
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can it saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven”. (Matthew 5:13-16)
Saturday, March 25:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you: I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from their dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:6-7).