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A reading and a reflection to start the day, with the Rev Dr Craig Gardiner, a tutor at South Wales Baptist College.

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2 minutes

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Mon 13 Jan 2020 05:43


Good morning. Many of the students in the University where I work are preparing for their winter exams. Others are spending much of January completing projects and dissertations. Either way, it is time for their knowledge of selected subjects to be evaluated. 
Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher once said that the ‘unexamined life was not worth living’, but he wasn’t trying to test how much information we remember or how fine an essay we construct. No, he wanted to evaluate the quality of our character, establish what’s the best and worst of who we are, when nobody is watching. Assessing someone’s character can be difficult. It's no easier to try and evaluate ourselves. We can often be our own harshest critics. But it’s a challenge that those of any faith or none can undertake. 
There’s a long tradition in the Christian faith of doing this through what is called a ‘daily examen.’ Using a pattern taught by St Ignatius in the 16th century, we are first encouraged to see ourselves as God sees us, full of love and grace, and through that lens discover and give thanks for the good things that have come our way that day. 
But the authenticity of examen also asks us to confront the shortcomings in the day just gone. We are encouraged to face up to where and why we have been less of the person that we would want to be. That process can be brutal, and it would be sad if our self-examination ended there. But it doesn’t. 
Having genuinely weighed the quality of our character, St Ignatius asks us then to look outwards and imagine where we might experience God in the coming day.
So dear God, Examen now the life in us, reveal how we might grow in stature and in wisdom and be favoured by people and blessed by you.  Amen