Christ be with me

Music for St. Patrick’s ancient words,

Rolf Kobbeltvedt Mortensen

I don’t know what it is about Celtic music and me, if it’s some distant ancestry(wink) or something about the approximate longitude between the northern part of the British Isles and Denmark, but I’ve always liked it since my first encounter, which might have been the lovely song “Auld lang syne”, mainly used around New Year. I sense a warmth there and something well-known that makes me feel at home; on top of that there’s often a sing-along quality that makes me wanna join in.

The melody came sitting at the piano with St. Patrick’s prayer in front of me. As always, when something sounds right, it felt like a gift falling into my lab, but as I only had the first part, which pretty much is some of St. Patrick’s prayer, word for word and nothing else of the prayer really fitted into “the template” to extend for a whole song, I forgot about it and it ended up, as countless others, in my drawer of unfinished songs for a couple of years. A while later I listened back at my first recording of it and thought there was some quality there, not least because of St. Patrick’s words, so I ended changing his lyrics a little for the second part, so I had enough words for a full song.

It’s probably the best known part of the prayer that is in the song, but if you read the whole prayer, you’ll see that the song only just scratches the surface and there’s even some nature imagery there, which, I think, is a characteristic of the Celtic tradition. It maybe sounds a little foreign, heretic even, in modern ears, when he writes: “I bind to myself today, The power of Heaven, The light of the Sun, The whiteness of snow, The force of Fire, The flashing of lightning, The velocity of Wind, The depth of the Sea, The stability of the Earth, The hardness of Rocks”, but if you read everything else of the prayer there’s no question where St. Patrick takes his refuge, namely God, who created the same elements that he binds himself to. I think this really is more a question of St. Patrick feeling a kinship with God’s whole creation and that creation is good. Being a nature guy myself, that is really dear to me. I think God has revealed a lot about Himself in nature and communicates to us through His creation. It’s a wordless language though, but it’s like I sometimes sense a little bit of the inner workings of what life is really all about out there in the forest, at the sea or under the starlight with the wind whispering silently in the trees without being able to say what “that” is. There’s a grandeur and amazing strength in nature, but also something fragile, that I think, we’re called to protect.


St. Patrick’s breastplate, as it’s also known, is a prayer of protection and as a person who has struggled with depression and anxiety for years, I perhaps have felt this need of protection more strongly(sometimes maybe needlessly) than others, so that’s obviously appealing to me, but I also see it as a prayer of longing for what we as Christians were called to do, namely to manifest the presence of Christ into this world and to let His life live in us, so others might see His life in us.  That’s the reason I turned around st. Patrick’s “Christ in every eye that sees me” etc. to “Christ in my eye to see you” etc. As I mentioned earlier, in my opinion that’s not only in relation to other human beings, but creation as a whole.

I think today more than ever before there’s a need for people who, without judgementalism, – which too often has has been a very sad companion in some fractions of Christianity, –  in humility and care for creation become carriers of Christ’ presence and compassion into this beautiful, but battered world.

At first glance this with being like Christ sounds very difficult to me, not to say impossible, and like LOADS of pressure, but I think there really is amazing freedom and grace here; it’s not my righteousness and works, it’s the righteousness and works of Christ I put on; it’s His works, I walk in. This should also guard me from any reason for arrogance, pride and hypocrisy, so it’s also a lesson in humility on our part, which is pretty brilliant, but God is brilliant, that’s for sure.

So to me, my most important job is to stay very close to Jesus, which in itself can be very hard sometimes when life pulls at you from all sides, but I think, in reality is as simple as calling His name in prayer or song wherever we are. It’s my hope that these ancient words and this song can help someone out there experience His closeness and freedom, and the safety and blessings of being in Christ, and maybe the courage to pass it on.

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CHRISTFULNESS AT THE CHINESE UNIVERSITY HONG KONG

CHRISTFULNESS AT THE CHINESE UNIVERSITY HONG KONG

Four sessions in September and October 2021. May Christfulness be a blessing to the students in the CUHK amid a trying time.

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THE EUCHARIST AS AN EXPRESSION OF “TOGETHER IN CHRIST”

The Eucharist (Holy Communion) in a physical way expresses what it means to be in Christ. If we understand Christfulness as describing the goal for our spiritual life, it sums up the process of growth for the followers of Jesus, starting as an individual and personal experience, but fulfilled in the fellowship of disciples that is constituted as the Body of Christ, the redeemed human race and in the hope that all creation may be delivered from its bondage in decay to share the liberty of the children of God.

Gathering as members of Christ’s body at Holy Communion our eyes are opened so that we understand that God’s image in us is restored; we once more are called into a priestly ministry on behalf of creation. The Eucharistic prayer gives God thanks for creation and redemption and teaches us to interpret the longing of creation for their Creator, and at the same time it makes us understand that we are called to be the embodiment of this hope of creation’s redemption.

You may explore this vision in our essay, following this link The Eucharist as an expression

Blessings

Ole Skjerbæk Madsen

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Create your own affirmation or Schussgebete

Affirmation or Schussgebete are short prayers that are easy to remember. You may pray them whenever and in all circumstances. The name Schussgebet comes from German, and means shooting, comparing prayer with the shooting of an arrow towards its target.

Your exercise is to find a verse from the Bible, and change it into a short prayer or affirmation.

An example:

You read Romans 8.38-39:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You ponder on the verse and its promise for your life, and may end up with this affirmation:

No power on earth
can separate me from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus.
God, I thank you!

Here are some suggestions for some relevant verses, but you may find your own:

Matthew 11.28

Matthew 28.18,20

John 3.16-17

John 8.12

John 14.1-2

Philippians 4.6-7

1. John 1.9
1. John 4.9-10
1. Peter 1.3

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領受聖靈的指引 – instruction in receiving the Holy Spirit – in Chinese

若你想領受聖靈,以及經驗聖靈的工作,直接的方法就是透過所學習的基督教信仰認識上帝,並以禱告祈求聖靈充滿。若你並未接受洗禮,經過學習後你可以接受洗禮成為耶穌門徒的一分子。用水洗禮後的按手祈禱正是祈求聖靈。

然而,你也可以自己祈求聖靈的恩賜:

親愛的上帝,我渴望一個有你居住其中的新生命。我渴望按照你的旨意生活。我渴望有新的力量服事他人及眾生。潔淨我,脫離一切有違那我從主耶穌生命所得知的、並不使我在你的神聖中發旺生長的事情。

[你可以向上帝提及那些對你與上帝、他人及你自己本性之間關係有害的事情。]

上帝,我向你、耶穌和聖靈打開我心。願你賜下聖靈,是我充滿你的靈。奉耶穌基督的名禱告。

當其他信徒在場藉著禱告輔助你,他們可以按手在你頭上,並祈求你能領受聖靈。門徒最初為人禱告的時候,他們也是這樣做,然後聖靈顯示了自己。

緊隨基督徒初次經驗聖靈大能的顯示的,正是這種祈禱。很多人用方言祈禱,即是他們領受了聖靈在他們裡面創造出的一種禱告聲音的語言,即使你不能理解那些聲音或「字詞」,他們誠然感受正在與上帝溝通。其他人經驗從上帝領受信息;若你閱讀上文聆聽主的聲音,你就知道這是甚麼意思。 但即使你沒有經驗大能的顯示,你也應放心自己的禱告已蒙垂聽。祈求聖靈的第一個果效就是內心平安與安慰,你能逐漸以新的眼光看待自己和週遭的世界。但這也可以發生於聖靈顯現的時候,那時你不應壓抑,就容讓你的唇舌溢出奇怪的聲音,就正於從你靈魂深出溢出的禱告,聖靈那說不出的歎息。

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Instruction in receiving the Holy Spirit (English)

Instruction in receiving the Holy Spirit.

If you want to receive the Holy Spirit, and to experience the working of the Spirit, the direct way is to get to know God through being taught Christian faith and praying for the infilling of the Spirit. If you are not already baptized, you after being taught may be baptized to become a part of the fellowship of Jesus’ disciples. The laying on of hands just after baptism with the water is a prayer for the Holy Spirit.

However, you may yourself pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit

Dear God. I’m longing after a new life which is indwelled by you. I long to live according to your will. I long for a new power and energy to serve other persons and my fellow creatures. Cleanse me from everything that will not prosper and thrive in concert with your sanctity that I know from the life of my Master Jesus.

[You may mention to God some of that of which you know that it harms your relationship with God, your neighbour and your own true nature].

God, I open my heart to you, to Jesus, and to your Holy Spirit. May your Holy Spirit be lavished upon me and fill me with your Spirit. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. 

When other disciples of Jesus is present and assist you in prayer, they may lay their hands on your head and praying for you to receive the Spirit. When the first disciples prayed for people, they did it this way, and the Holy Spirit made his presence manifest.

The first Christians experiences powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit following this kind of prayer. Many prayed in tongues, i.e. they received a kind of prayer language of sounds that the holy Spirit created in them, and even though you can’t understand the sounds or ”words”, they nevertheless are felt to be a communication with God. Other experienced to receive messages from God; you have an idea of what this means, if you read Listening to the voice of God above. But even if you don’t experience powerful manifestations you should be assured that your prayer is heard. The first fruit of the prayer for the Holy Spirit is an inner peace and comfort, and little by little you look upon yourself and the surrounding world with new eyes. But it may also happen that the Spirit manifests and then you shouldn’t repress what comes, but just let the strange sounds come over your lips as a prayer from the depth of your soul, a sighing or even groaning with God’s Spirit.

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找到自己恩賜的指引 – instruction in finding your gifts of grace – in Chinese

找一個好的姿勢,幫助你專注和自在地呼吸。

為聖靈臨在禱告:

奉耶穌基督的名,聖靈,請來!打開我的心思、意念、情感歸向你。潔淨我,抹去一切阻礙上帝恩典在我裡面作工的事情,並賜我純全的心。讓我能分一點你的智慧,幫助我認識自己,正如你認識我一樣;幫助我認識上帝的愛,正如上帝在我主耶穌裏愛我一般。

安歇在你的呼吸裏,無需用力。你正在上帝的呼吸裏呼吸著。你生活、呼吸、存留都在上帝之內。當你在上帝臨在中安歇,禱告說:

上帝,助我回看今天或過去一週,指示我為他人帶來的改變。

想像你曾遇見或相處的人們。他們的需要是什麼?你曾否在他們的情況中有所啟發,或有能力滿足他們的需求……現在如此禱告說:

上帝,我覺得我對某某所說的話,給了他新的信心。或:我想你曾在某某的情況中給我啟發,我與他分享這些的時候,他充滿了盼望。或:我覺得我以我的能力如此這般影響了某某的生命。我的經驗是否來自你、有關我恩賜的提示?主,請讓我確認!願你的聖靈常與我同在,並在我與他人的相遇之中引導我。奉耶穌基督的名,多謝你!

保持靜謐。願上帝與你分享一個影像、一個字詞、一個想法或一個應許或平安,使你確認你的事工和你的恩賜。或你只有內在的平安,並在你與他人相遇之際得著新的體察──忽然你會再一次處身於為他人帶來改變的情況。

若你想找到自己的恩賜,可以加入一個仿傚基督、活出服事的愛的團契。你能在很多信徒群體中得著幫助,在服事他人和了解自己恩賜方面得以成長。很多人在得著屬靈恩賜之前先要有基督信仰的簡介。也有很多人認為在一個較小的群體中,更容易熟習並健康地使用自己的恩賜,因為成員能互相幫助。找一個提供小組團契(細胞小組),或啟發課程的群體。

Tongues over the disciples. Pentecost

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Instruction in finding your gifts of grace

Find a good position which help you to breathe freely and to be focused.

Pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit:

Come, Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ! Open my heart, my thoughts, and my feelings to you. Cleanse me from everything that blocks the working of God’s grace in me, and give me a pure and whole heart. Grant me a share in your wisdom, and help to know myself as God knows me, and to know God’s love as God has loved me in my master, Jesus.

Rest in your breathing, without forcing it. You are breathing in the breath of God. You live and breathe and have our being in God. When you rest in God’s presence you pray:

God, help me to looking back on this day or on the last week, and show me where I made a difference to other people.

Imagine the people you’ve met or spent some time with. What were their needs? Where did you have an insight in their situation or an ability to meet their needs… Now pray like this:

God, I feel that the words I said to NN, gave her a new confidence. Or: I think that you gave me an insight in NN’s situation, And that sharing this with him he was filled with hope. Or: I feel that I used my abilities in such a way as to make a difference in the life of NN. Was my experience a hint from you concerning my gifts of grace, and of how I may serve or minister to other people? I ask you, Lord, to confirm it to me! May your Holy Spirit always stay with me and guide me in meeting other people. Thank you, in the name of Jesus Christ!

Remain silent. Maybe God will share an image, a word, a thought or an assurance or a peace with you that will confirm your ministry and your gifts of grace. Or you may just have an inner peace and find a new awareness in meeting people on your way – and suddenly you’ll once more find yourself in a situation, in which your presence makes a difference.

If you want to find your gifts of grace, it’s helpful to become part of a fellowship of people who themselves want to live in serving love in the imitation of Christ. In many Christian congregations you’ll find a help to grow in serving others and in knowing your spiritual gifts. Many people need an introduction to Christian faith before they find and receive their spiritual gifts. And many people find that it is easier to practice their gifts of grace and to grow in a healthy use of the gifts when they are in a smaller group, because the members of the group help each other. Look for a congregation that offers small group fellowships (cell groups), or offers Alpha-courses.

 

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Labyrinth walk – in Cantonese

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Labyrinth walk – in English

Christfulness is about living out of the realty, that we are created in God’s image, which is Christ. We meet Christ in the Gospels, in the sacraments, and in the heart. We ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to us in the heart. This is a sometimes painful walk, but when we rest in our personal center with him, we find new energy to live from his presence in us, inwards – outwards. With him in our heart we go to meet the surrounding world. 

You may experience this walking the labyrinth,

as you journey to the heart of God, 

Reading:      John 8:12

 “I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Prayer as you start walking in the Labyrinth:

O Lord, Walk with me;

Lead me by your own hand;Choose my path;

Smooth or rough,Winding or straight. It leads to you.

Amen.

Prayer while you walk

Jesus Christ, teach me to walk in your truth.

Affirmation while standing at the center of the labyrinth:

At the center of God’s heart; that is where I am.

Prayer while standing at the center of the labyrinth:

Bless me, Christ Jesus;

in you alone my heart find rest and peace.

Affirmation as you start walking out:

I have traveled to the heart of God.

Now I travel to the heart of the world with God’s good news.

Take this word to your heart while walking out of the Labyrinth:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.                                 (Micah 6:8)

Outside

Give thanks to God for loving you in Jesus Christ, and for empowering you for your life in Christ.

Make the sign of the cross on your forehead, your mouth and your chest, saying:

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding keep my heart and my mind in the love of Christ Jesus! Amen!

(The Labyrinth walk is partly inspired by a ritual created by John LeMond for the TFS-Labyrinth)

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