February 2022

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 too. 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.

The saying for the month is ‘I am … the Bright Morning Star’ (Revelation 22:16) 

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; you may want to relax your way through your muscles or you may find it helpful to become aware of the sounds around you and then put them aside as you 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:

I am writing this during the season of Epiphany when, according to St. Matthew’s Gospel, the Magi from the east saw a bright star rise from afar. They knew this to be a sign that the promised Messiah, king of the Jews, had been born.  In anticipation, they followed the star (which was the morning star) that hovered above the town of Bethlehem, where Jesus had been born.  This star in fact is the planet of Venus, the brightest star in the Universe.   Venus arises in the eastern sky in the early morning hours while it is still dark. Very soon the sun will rise announcing the dawn of a new day.  The morning star is then the promise of a new day and, for those who live in darkness and have little hope for the future, Jesus, the Bright Morning Star brings that hope. This was the purpose of the coming Messiah as foretold by the prophets: ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shone’ (Isaiah 9:2) 

The book of Revelation is not so much a book, but an extended letter, with individual letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor. This letter consists of a series of visions or revelations given to John who had been persecuted and was now living in exile on the isle of Patmos.  Revelation has also been called a book of the apocalypse which means unveiling; the unveiling of what is and what is to come.  The time in which it was written is thought to be 90-95 AD, a time when Rome was under the reign of the Emperor Domitian.  His reign was one of widespread oppression and persecution of the early Christians, and even Jews, and all who refused to worship him as a god.   Many Christians were being killed and martyred for following Jesus Christ.  It was also a period of great tribulation with famine and plagues. 

Revelation is full of strange and perplexing symbols and visions that confuse many Christians who sometimes struggle to understand it.  The book is concerned with ideas and principles of timeless truths.  Its purpose is to depict the perennial struggle of good and evil and the ultimate triumph of the kingdom of God.  Some of the visions were of those events that were taking place at the time but as the book unfolds, we are shown visions of a time to come that would give the early Christians hope, hope of the dawn of a new beginning, a new day when all suffering and violence would cease; evil would be conquered and a new era of peace would come where Christ would reign in glory.

In this passage Jesus says ‘I am the root and offspring of David and the bright morning star’.  This fulfils a prophecy back in the Old Testament, by the prophet Balaam, ‘A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel’ (Numbers 24:17). The prophecy in Isaiah is also explicit: ‘There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.  The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding … in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him and His resting place shall be glorious’.  So let us now imagine the bright morning star shining in the breaking dawn and see how the risen Christ will cast out the darkness in the lives of all people and in the world as we know it.

So, we now take these Words of Jesus into our minds, allowing the saying to speak to us: ‘I am … the bright morning star’.

A time is now kept for silence of the mind – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes.  The silence concludes with a short thanksgiving, and/or feel free to repeat the Saying.  The first silence ends with the words: Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word.

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

The last two years have been a challenging and difficult time for most of us, when we have lost so much of what we call our normal daily life: visiting friends and loved ones, attending meetings, going to church, going shopping, the theatre or concerts, having friends and family to stay and so many other activities.  We have had to draw on all our inner resources in order to avoid depression and feelings of loss and bereavement.  There have been so many deaths, and families have not been able to visit their loved ones as they were sick in hospital and dying.  The NHS has been completely overwhelmed.  These have been the times when our Fellowship has been literally a ‘Godsend’. During our times of contemplative prayer, we have been able to draw on the Spirit and Life of the Words of Jesus; allowing His Words to nourish us and to dwell in us richly in all wisdom, and with the inspiration and hope and inner strength this gives us.   We can drink deeply of the water of life that Jesus so freely gives, the fountain of life that we all thirst for. 

Jesus said ‘I am the Light of the World, he that follows me shall not live in darkness but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12).  The full glory of Christ was revealed just once in his ministry when Jesus was transfigured, witnessed by Jesus’ three close friends, Peter, James and John, whom he took up to the top of the mountain of the Transfiguration, most probably Mount Tabor.  Here in Revelation the risen Christ is the bright morning star who would rise on all creation, and in the hearts of all people (2 Peter 1:14).  There are many invitations in the New Testament; when we are thirsty, Jesus says ‘If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink’ (John 7:37).  When we feel low, sad or depressed we can remember His invitation ‘Come to me with your burdens, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus is the Light of the World, the Bright Morning star, who will dispel the personal darkness that we may be going through and will ultimately dispel all darkness.  Jesus also said ‘You are the light of the world, let your light so shine’ (Matthew 5:14). The light of Christ in us can then shine forth through us and from us, both in our intercession to all who are in distress and to our neighbours and communities in our daily lives.

The second letter of Peter puts it very succinctly, ‘We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts’ (2 Peter 1:19).   Jesus the Christ, the bright morning star, shines in dark places and in troubled times and His light will rise in our hearts.  Christ represents the dawning of a new day.

So, we now let the words of Jesus sink into our hearts, into the very depths of our being, so the light of Christ will dwell in us, slowly transforming our lives: ‘I am … the bright morning star’.

A time is now kept for silence of the heart – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes.  The second silence ends with the words: Father, we thank you that your Word is alive and within us.

Introduction to the time of intercession – taking God’s word outwards into the world

‘I am … the bright morning star’.

Say the name of a person or a group of people, and after a short pause, repeat the saying. For example: ‘Alison and your family ... I am … the bright morning star'.

As we allow the word to speak through us we might direct Jesus’ word towards those people and situations where there is suffering, hurt and an absence of joy and where abiding in Christ would bring comfort.

Conclude this 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.

The Conclusion

Feel free to use the Fellowship Prayer below 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.