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18/04/2019

A spiritual comment and prayer to begin the day with the Bishop of Ripon, Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley.

A spiritual comment and prayer to begin the day with the Bishop of Ripon, Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley

Good morning.

Today is Maundy Thursday, when Christians remember the last meal that Jesus shared with his friends. We call it ‘Maundy’ after the Latin word ‘mandatum’ and Jesus’ command (his mandate) that we should love one another. In a tradition dating back hundreds of years, today her Majesty the Queen will distribute Maundy money to 93 women and 93 men, the number of her own years of life. These people are chosen for their dedication and service to their local communities. Often unseen and unnoticed, this is an opportunity for their work to be valued and honoured. ‘You can’t be what you can’t see,’ the saying goes, and hearing stories that lie behind the names of the recipients should inspire us to selfless acts of love.

But what is love anyway? A word, a concept, a philosophy, a feeling? All of those things perhaps. Love is often bound up with power, and religion can be a coercive example of this, especially if it means obeying someone. / But Jesus’ command had at its root a self-giving love, the power to choose to give unconditionally. Before we love others however, we need to learn to love ourselves. Being persuaded that we are loved and that we are lovable is not always an easy message to accept. But we don’t do it alone.

In the book of the prophet Ezekiel, God says: ‘A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’

Lord, may these words be so. Give us this day an openness to both show love and respect to our neighbour and the grace to receive it. Amen.

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