THURSDAY THE TWELFTH OF JANUARY, 2017
Lord, eternal lover of creation, send us friends so that we may be fully human and help us to become the friend of others. May the Holy Trinity be our example of true friendship. Amen.
PSALM TWENTY-FOUR ( abridged )
The Lord of hosts: he is the King of glory.
The earth is the Lord's and all that fills it,
the compass of the world and all who dwell therein.
For he has founded it upon the seas
and set it firm upon the rivers of the deep.
"Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord,
or who can rise up in his holy place?"
"Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,
who have not lifted up their soul to an idol,
nor sworn an oath to a lie;
they shall receive a blessing from the Lord,
a just reward from the God of their salvation."
Such is the company of those who seek him,
of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The Lord of hosts: he is the King of glory.
O Lord of hosts,
purify our hearts
that the King of glory may come in,
your son, Jesus our redeemer. Amen.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Aelred of Rievaulx thanks you for being a friend
At the beginning of the story of the raising of Lazarus in "John," chapter eleven, John makes mention of the fact that Jesus “loved” Martha and Mary, and Lazarus. In fact when Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus, they did not tell him that Lazarus was ill, they told him, “He whom you love is ill.” What is all this talk of love?
Aelred of Rievaulx was one of those gifted monastics out of Great Britain’s Middle Ages who had the gift of insight and the ability to make his mark on the world through his writing and example. He was born in 1109 in Durham and grew up and was educated in the court of King David of Scotland. He made close and fast friends with the King’s stepsons, Simon and Waldef. Aelred felt the calling to be a monk and entered the Cistercian order in 1133.
On his way back from Rome, where he had been sent to conduct business by the Archbishop of York, he traveled to Clairveux, the famous Cistercian mother house, to meet with Saint Bernard, who was abbot there. Bernard encouraged him to write, and Aelred completed his first work called “Mirror of Perfection” in 1143. In 1147, Aelred was elected abbot of Rievaulx (a large and prominent Cistercian Monastery). He held that position for twenty years until he died of a painful kidney disease in 1167. It was during this time that he studied the Biblical texts like "John" eleven and others, and developed his understanding of spiritual friendship.
Of course, monks and nuns were pledged to a life of chastity and celibacy and there had developed in many of the religious orders an aversion to what was called “particular friendships.” The idea was that monks in their monasteries and nuns in their cloister should not become “too attached” to any one brother or sister. Perhaps it was the fear of homosexuality that pushed this issue so strongly. A monk or nun was to love everyone equally, and not to favour one over another. Of course this left them cut off from intimacy, and was psychologically destructive.
Aelred concluded from his studies that Jesus never spoke against particular friendships, and in fact, had several personal friends, whose company he enjoyed. In his most significant book “Spiritual Friendship,” Aelred discusses this. He writes:
“No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of all our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in time of trouble, and with whom we may share our happiness in time of joy.”
Friendship, Aelred teaches, is both a gift from God and a creation of human effort. While love is universal, freely given to all, friendship is a particular love between individuals, of which the example is Jesus and John the beloved disciple.
Scripture. In the thirteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, at the first verse, we read:
"Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."
... for peace in the world.
... for our friends, for friendship and that we may be a good friend to others.
... for those who are lonely.
... for those held hostage by terrorists.
... for the people of Cyprus, that the reunification talks may be successful.
... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:
What is the aim of every true educator?
It is not to give to his pupils such stimulus and support as will make them dependent upon him at every turn; rather it is to help them in the development of their own capacities in such a way that they may learn to be independent of him. They will always be his debtors but they will owe him most just in the degree that he avoids imposing his own personality upon them and allows them to absorb what they can, guiding, steadying, restraining, quickening, but never imposing. The greatest teachers do not implant in their pupils a body of beliefs or a fixed habit of mind; they evoke a spirit which is identical in all so far as it is of loyalty and devotion, but is different in each so far as it expresses itself in activities or methods.
The process of evoking this spirit is always the same. Educational theories vary from age to age; the curriculum of schools may be indefinitely altered; but the fundamental educational process remains always unaffected. It is the development of the less mature mind through intercourse with the more mature mind and with the deposit of other minds in the form of social traditions and conventions.
Our spiritual growth follows the same principles. We live among people who have certain standards of life and conduct; these are the product or deposit of countless souls in the generations gone by. By those standards our lives are shaped; by those standards to a very great extent our consciences are formed. But we are brought up also in the Church which is the school of Christ; there, too, we find traditional beliefs and requirements which represent, in a sort of summary, the experience of Christ's pupils. We meet with souls who have developed far towards perfect discipleship, and by our intercourse with them are led to further stages of our own development. Above all, this school of Christ is dominated by the person of Christ himself; all things are referred to him as the supreme arbiter and even when corruption sets in, as it is likely to do from time to time in any society composed of human beings, it is by the standard of Christ's teaching and by his living power that reformation is achieved.
Almighty God, you endowed the abbot Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship and the wisdom to lead others in the way of holiness: Grant to your people that same spirit of mutual affection, that, in loving one another, we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the gift of your eternal goodness; through the same Jesus Christ our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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