Breaking the fall

With the Cross, a memento or symbol of a time when you were encouraged or helped out of, saved from a difficult situation.

Prayer to begin

Today, enter this time of prayer with your own words.  Speak to God from the feelings in your heart at this moment.  Then, clear your mind and listen.  Believe strongly that, with this prayer, you are beginning a conversation.  Do your best to ensure it is a two-way conversation.

If you are unfamiliar with this type of praying, or find it difficult, take up an earlier prayer from this series of reflections, one that appealed to you, one that perhaps you have already returned to.  Use this prayer to draw you into today’s time with God.

The Lord supports all who fall and raises all who are bowed down. [Psalm 145:14]

Those words from Psalm 144 are wonderfully consoling to people of faith – on two levels.  First, there’s an acceptance on our part that we “fall”, make wrong choices, mess things up.  Second, we get “bowed down” – stuff happens to us that we can’t control; we get hurt, sick, or feel helpless when those we love suffer.  On both levels, God is with us, “supporting” and “raising up”.  At the time you may not realise this and feel that God has left you to it!  But if you can step out of your anger or frustration for a while, you will see a sign that tells you you’re not alone.

At the moment we are cut off from one another, a sacrifice deemed necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  But no one is cut off from God and there are signs flowing from this critical time that, for a person of faith, indicate God’s presence.  Here are some that speak to me – you may like to add your own:

  • Neighbours looking out for one another – when they haven’t had contact before; some had not even spoken.
  • Medical professionals and paramedics taking enormous risks for the good of others.
  • News items and feature articles highlighting the goodness of individuals and communities – bad news less dominant.
  • Increased concern for the most vulnerable.

Comfort, support and even free housing offered to stranded tourists “breaks the fall” of people worried and fearful, anxious and powerless, far from family, trying to cope in unfamiliar surroundings.

  • Spend some minutes praying for those in need and for those who are helping (who also need support and encouragement) and give thanks for being able to see God’s presence in the world’s current “unprecedented” situation.

The gospels give several instances of Jesus being frustrated and even despairing of his disciples.

Choose one of these episodes and stay with it in meditation

  • Matthew 15:16 – Jesus is concerned at their lack of insight.
  • Matthew 27:46 – Jesus feel abandoned by God.
  • Luke 18:31-34 – Jesus spells out the details of his passion, but they do not understand…
  • Luke 19:41 – Jesus weeps over Jerusalem.

Let Jesus speak to you about his own sense of isolation – not being able to “reach” the disciples – feeling alone and abandoned.  Tell him of your own concerns during this time of uncertainty.

Then, return to the Psalm

The Lord supports all who fall and raises all who are bowed down. [Psalm 145:14] and from the same Psalm [vs8-9]

The Lord is good to all. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and his compassion is over all that he has made.

Read and pray the whole of Psalm 145

It tells of the greatness and the goodness of God.  In a time of difficulty, restricted freedom and concern over the risk of infection, this Psalm can reinforce your faith, strengthen your hope and re-motivate your love.  The beautiful Psalm 8 is encouraging at any time but perhaps especially now:

Lord our God, the whole world tells the greatness of your name.
Your glory reaches beyond the stars…
What is humankind that you remember them,
The human race that you care for them?
You treat them like gods, dressing them in glory and splendour. [8:2,5-6]

Some “uplifting” music will help seal this time of prayer and assure you of the goodness and beauty of God, of ourselves and of the world.

The prayer-praise of Mary, uplifted by her visit to Elizabeth, can become your own as you conclude –

And Mary said:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel, his servant, mindful of his mercy
according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. [Luke 1:46-55]

Additional reading

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