October 2018

A Contemplative Exercise for October


The following is a possible framework for the Witnessing of the Word. It can be personalised, or altered: its purpose is to serve as an example of how this Saying might be used primarily in the context of a Prayer Group, but it may be used by individuals if so wished. It is not intended to be definitive.


In the context of a group: the periods of silence should be appropriate for your group - probably not less than 5 minutes, or more than 15 minutes.


Saying for the month

Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom”    Luke 12.32 (RSV)

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; become aware of the sounds around you and put them aside; offer this time of prayer to God.

 Say this introductory invitation to prayer, then keep a further minute or two of silence:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest"   Matthew 11.28 



Introduction to the first silence - a preparation for listening with the mind:

 Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom”   

 A new Kingdom was being proclaimed to the disciples of Jesus. As Jesus moved from Galilee to Jerusalem they were being prepared for a future without him.

 Chapters 11-12 are the central section of St Luke's Gospel. The rationale of the antithesis between 'things of this world' and 'things of the Kingdom' dominates them. This gives rise to tensions which probably had been building up as Jesus exercised his ministry of teaching and healing. In this section, through a range of encounters, some over meals, the redemptive work of God is being made known.

The disciples had the background of redemption as being the liberation of the people of Israel from Egypt. So the idea of release was uppermost, with Jesus indicating that the work of redemption would continue as part of the new Kingdom. For the disciples they were hearing about a reversal of fortunes, focussed on the Pharisees and others. For example, issues for the rich, religiously secure, the proud - in fact any exclusiveness - will bring judgement.

This then is offered in the context of a radical message of grace. The outreach of this new Kingdom would bring both challenge as well as opportunity. Fear is part of life. Jesus suggests to them not to be overly concerned about the world around them or to think that they had any more than limited control over the future. As C F Evans wrote, 'The question then at issue is when a proper concern has become an improper anxiety'.

'Fear not' or 'do not be afraid' recognises that the lifestyle arising from the new Kingdom values will give rise to tension, even persecution. It is firm teaching – it’s against small mindedness, glorying in small detail, eg tithing herbs, these lead to a charge of hypocrisy. The leaders of the Jewish religion are being challenged as a corrupting influence. The consequences of this would lead to dread, but for the fact of a God of mercy, justice and love. '... it is your Father's good pleasure': God's abundant grace will enable them to sort out their primary drive. The choice: 'things' or 'God'. Sauve qui peut! Is it to be every man and woman for themselves? Or self-surrender to the new Kingdom? The disciples were being offered a future as part of this new Kingdom.

Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” 

 time is now kept for silence of the mind - between 5 and 15 minutes

The silence concludes with a short thanksgiving, and/or repeat the Saying:

 Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word.

Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” 


Introduction to the second silence - a preparation for listening with the heart:

 Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom”

 In this age of materialism 'every man for himself' seems to reign. Of course it has been gathering momentum for a couple of centuries. But in our global village the contrasts between the haves and the have nots are illuminated. 'Fear' in the form of hopelessness and even loneliness is experienced by many. It was Henry V111 in his charge to Cromwell who said, 'carry gentle peace to silence envious tongues: be just and fear not'. There is a way of dealing with the 'dominion of darkness'.

Jesus was suggesting that it’s understandable to be fearful about the implications of the Kingdom. But if we are willing to become part of this gift offered we will know the 'peace which passes all understanding'. We will know the redemption through the forgiveness of sins. We will be set free to share as part of the family of this Kingdom. For St Luke, this majors in sharing, having a special concern for those on the fringes of society and questioning religious respectability.

A young woman born in Serbia called Agnes embraced dealing with fear. In a convent situation God spoke these words, 'Fear not...it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom', to her. It was a moment from darkness to light. We now know her as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. From the slums in that city she challenged, 'Do you know and love the poor?' The surest way to preach Christianity', she said, 'is by our cheerfulness, our happiness'. We can be sure she knew fear by the scale of the task, even knew pain. But she believed she wasn't doing it on her own.

As disciples then, who first heard these words, they may have been living in the context of the imminent return of Jesus. We understand that we are living 'between times'. It is God's time and full of his expectation for us. We need liberation from our own darkness and slaveries. We are a beloved 'little flock' with the Master's example. He calls us to 'Fear not…'

Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” 

A time is now kept for silence of the heart - between 5 and 15 minutes


Conclude the silence with a short thanksgiving and/or repeat the Saying:

 Father, we thank you that your Word is alive and within us.

Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” 


Introduction to the time of intercession – we use our will to reflect God’s Word outwards.

 “Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” 

So we move to receive this word into our will. Like the young nun Agnes we will want the Word to interact with our whole being. It changed her life for ever and the name she took, Teresa, moved her out of the convent walls to hold the hand of the dying and despairing. But first of all it was teaching, if you like, the ordinary way of life. We have an ordinary life which sometimes in the gentle prompting of God can become something utterly changed.

Those who laid eyes on Teresa in the slums saw radiant eyes and hands of compassion. 'Teach me, Lord, what you require of me'. Her prayer can become our prayer. Yes, fear may be a part of it, even butterflies in the tummy. Henry V111's words, 'be just, fear not' take us forward to intercede for the world. A call to make a difference as we continue to move forward, letting this Word bear fruit in us and through us. In the stillness, in this God moment, as we have desired to rest, so now we desire to let God's tenderness intercede for the world around and beyond, that we may be a rich blessing to the creation and to others who are being called into the Kingdom.

Say the name of a person or a group of people, and after a short pause, repeat the saying. For example:

‘Elizabeth ……   Fear not… it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” 

Conclude the time of intercession with words of thanksgiving:                               Father, we thank you that your Word has gone out through us to those for whom we pray.

Use the Fellowship Prayer or another closing prayer to conclude your time of contemplative prayer.

Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for all your unsearchable riches which pour forth from you as light from the sun, in boundless profusion and generosity, whether received, ignored or rejected. And now we offer to you, in so far as we are able, as an emptiness to be filled with your divine fullness, ourselves, our souls and bodies; all that we are, all that we have and all that we do. Amen 

 You may wish to say the Grace together before departing. 


                                                                   This month's exercise was contributed by RF