Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The bread of life

Today's Gospel reading from the RCL is John 6. 35-40



(icon from the Icon Chapel in Glenstal)

In today's Gospel Jesus says:‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.' This is of course one of the great 'I am' sayings of St John's Gospel, one of the ways he points to Jesus' divinity by directly linking him with 'I am' statement that God made to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3, and helps us understand why it is so important to try and get that bread of life.

Jesus tells us that we must come to him to receive that bread of life. How do we do so? In the sacraments, of course. But also in our prayer life. While I was on retreat in Glenstal Abbey last week, our group had a couple of talks from one of the community, Fr Gregory Collins, on prayer. He recommended a structured prayer life which incorporated a systematic reading of scripture. 'You are Anglicans,' he said, 'so I would suggest you use the daily offices from the Book of Common Prayer and the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary.' May I be excused for being a bit chuffed by what he said, as it happens to accord with my own practises? It's quite encouraging to have an external authority like Fr Gregory say you're doing the right thing! (To understand what I mean when I call him an authority, take a look at his books in the Abbey shop.)

So what are you doing with regard to your prayer life to try to draw closer to Christ? If the answer is 'nothing much' you could do worse than follow Fr Gregory's advice. If you don't have a prayer book of your own, here's a link to the CofI Book of Common Prayer to help get you started. I'd sugggest Morning Prayer 2 and/or Evening Prayer 2.  You can find links to the RCL here. 

You might have to read through them a few times to get the hang of it, but believe you me it is nothing like as difficult as trying to follow the offices they use in Glenstal when you're not used to them! Give it a shot. If it doesn't work for you, oh well at least you've tried and you've learned that this method isn't for you. And if it does work, well you may have your way of being fed on the bread of heaven that Christ offers and calls us all to feast upon.

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