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Prayer for the week

08 August 2014

We live in a new day, says Lindsay Llewellyn-MacDuff



The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind. 

Silence is kept.

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and for ever. Amen.

Morning Prayer,  Common Worship

SINCE I saw the TV series Game of Thrones, this prayer is entwined in my mind with the red priestess from that programme. The priestess, a devotee of a fire god, regularly proclaims: "For the night is dark," and some poor disciple responds: "And full of terrors". When I hear it, as inevitably as the most fixed word-association, I think of these words from morning prayer, and the contrast between the two.

There is a strong tendency in the human heart to feel ourselves to be surrounded by terrors. These terrors - whether heresy, anarchy, poverty, or the dark unknown that stalks the streets in search of our children - must be kept at bay by whatever means necessary.

Blinded by our fears, we allow many kinds of injustice, for fear of the worse horror that might creep through if we let down our guard. Good is left undone, for fear of the bad that might happen instead of our good intentions. The door to peace is closed, for fear that we might be taken advantage of in our vulnerability.

When we are frightened, the people around us can become objects, only the means of our safety or our peril. The night is dark, and full of terrors.

No, Paul says. "The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light" (Romans 13.12, ESV).

The time for darkness finished with the Easter triumph. We are a resurrection people. Vulnerability is part of the deal - not stupid exposure to risk, of course, but the openness proper to a loving life. God has already won the victory, and we must live in that confidence. "Even darkness is not dark to you, for the night is as bright as the day" (Psalm 139.11, CW).

This opening sally in morning prayer opens the door of our heart, and reminds us that the day belongs to God: the God who, time and again, tells us not to be afraid; the God who demands that we see each and every person as his child, a subject of his or her own pilgrimage.

In the silence, we offer the coming day to God. It is a chance to give God all the risks we face and all the people we might meet, but it is also an opportunity to God-bathe, to sit in the light of our Redeemer, to hear his reassurance, and rest in his presence.

"The night is passed, and the day lies open": it is God's great gift to us - his abiding in the day-to-day business of our life. So we carry within our hearts that dwelling, that light, that fire of the dawn from on high, as we enter the next diurnal rotation.

We are born anew to love, to risk, to live for and in heaven, even while shadows are still fading around us: we are citizens not of the night, nor subjects of its terrors, but children of the day.

The Revd Lindsay Llewellyn-MacDuff is a prison-service chaplain.


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