It has been the custom of Christians to pray together in various ways but with one intent – to nurture the World and bring people, including each other, and nature to a closeness with God. Joyce has given us an illustration of this in the photograph of the tiny mute swans gathering under the safety and protection of their mother’s wing.
There is something rather gently protective in this scene. We can sense a warmth and security and a restfulness. The caption under the photo could easily have been ‘Safe in our Mother’s arms’.
Joyce has chosen a sentence which is part of the first part of Morning Prayer or Matins as it is sometimes known.
How does this connect up with the protection and safety of the little swans ?
The problem sometimes with ‘Liturgy’ (the format and composition of worship ) is that it can be said unthinkingly. Or perhaps as part of a repetitive rhythm which encloses the Word of God it seeks to proclaim. Whereas, the Word of God should free and enclose us. That itself can be seen as placing ourselves under the protecting and nurturing of God. Maybe we aren’t too different as those baby swans after all. As we pray and recite the words of the services provided for our nourishment, we snuggle up to our protective and loving God.
There is always a sense that Morning Prayer is a beginning. We begin the day in prayer – whatever form we use.
And we have therefore come through the night safely.
So as a preparation to say : The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind, begins a daily re-turning of our lives to God.
If we add to it, the second part of the sentence, that becomes abundantly clear:
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.
Whatever the day will bring; however we feel about ourselves; whatever fears we face; however lacking in confidence we are; and how lonely or sad or bored we feel, combined of course with whatever joy, hopefulness and friendship we shall share, we can remind ourselves very soon after wakening – God holds us; God protects us; God cares for us with a love beyond words. We are beginning our day in God’s presence. We know that we are secure in his protective, motherly love.
Our response to this is surely Thank You.
As the 12th century Dominican friar and mystic said:
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘Thank You’ (God) – It will be enough.
I’m quite sure that those cute baby mute swans will agree!
Thank you, Joyce ( and thank you, God.)