Christ Church Catshill

  • Stourbridge Road
  • Catshill
  • Worcester
  • Worcestershire
  • B61 9LH


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We are all born with two natures. The primitive survival nature that has ensured our evolution to this point of human life and a nature connected to the Divine that calls us to continue to grow in concsiousness. Many of us learnt a prayer that was given to remind us of this second nature. A prayer we learnt by rote and maybe never truly understood. The Lord’s Prayer.Carey and I have added the voice of the two natures within us, so that we can see how The Lords Prayer is a prayer that we are to use to remind us of our calling to greater, more harmonious consciousness, by including the primal fearful voice that for many of us is our default setting.

 

The Lord's Prayer with two voices

Me here alone, myself, I know best for me. After all, no one else could know better.No one else cares enough.

Or

Our Father in heaven -I acknowledge a Source of all life beyond my limited understanding and open to your wisdom

 

I am all that is important to me. An independent entity. I really don’t have time or energy for anyone else right now! Okay?

 Or

Hallowed be thy namebecause There is more than this small me, there is sacred, all encompassing being within and beyond me.

My Kingdom come, I want to be in control of my life.I don’t want anyone else telling me what I should do or how I should do it. I just want it my way.As I said before, I know best.

Or

Thy Kingdom come- My understanding is limited and wounded, yet there is a limitless being in all things that sees this world differently to my limited view. Let me see this world as you do.

My will is what counts, I want what I want and what I know. I feel safe then and in control. Nothing needs to change. Let’s just keep it simple. My needs are all that interest me. That’s how I stay safe.

Or

Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven -There are ways of being beyond my fear – a will more embracing and expansive than mine – let this will be done in the earth of my being as it is already in the being of Divine life.

I am self-sufficient, I will get what I need when I need it. Look out for number one. That’s the only way. I deserve my share and I know how to get it. If I can get a bigger portion so be it. That’s what life is for – using my wits in getting more and keeping it.

Or

Give us this day our daily bread -I acknowledge that everything comes from the source of all being, my breath, my flesh , my food generously given for all.

I am justified in all that I need to do to survive. I don’t need to explain myself to anyone. I do what I have to do. That’s just the way it is. Everyone else can mind their own business

Or-

Forgive us our trespasses- I am interwoven and connected to every living thing, whatever I do affects another, - forgive my harmfulness and my fear .

No one gets in my way. And I make sure they know that. I’ll tell anyone who asks to mind their own business and let me mind mine. Its not my fault if they don’t like what I do. But if they mess with me they’ll get what’s coming to them. I’m not a pushover!

Or -

As we forgive those that trespass against us-I open my heart in compassion for those who like me are seduced by fear and cause us harm.

 I will always seek the advantage. You have to in this world. How else can I survive? Survival of the fittest, and that’s going to be me, anyway I know how, and evryone else can get lost. But they’ll look up to me in the end. People like me are looked up to because we don’t need anyone else.

Or:

Lead us not into temptation - wake me up so that I can see and live, knowing that there is nothing to fear and live for the good of all

I will do it my way. I am in control. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again. I don’t need anyone to look out for me.

Or-

Deliver us from evil -Guide me through the chaos of life both inner and outer.

 

This is my life. I get one chance and its going to be good for me. Okay

Or-

For thine is the kingdom -Life is more than my experience, I am a part of an interonnected whole of which you are the source.

 Iwill be satisfied only with fame and admiration. I’m going to make it in this world. I’ll show them what I’m made of. No one else will get a look in.

Or-

The power and the gloryThe vastness of consciousness that shines through all matter is what holds and enfolds and loves this creation 

Life is short and I’m going to make the most of it to get what I want and where I want even if that means closing the door on other people. I’m going to make sure I don’t get hurt. As long as I have enough money to see me out that’s all I care about.

Or

Forever and ever - Life is infinite, eternal and more than we can imagine and we are called to grow into the truth of our own being in God.

It’s a lie, a load of lies. It’s rubbish. There’s mothing to believe in or count on or search for. This is it. I’ll never agree, never get sucked in. Leave me alone.

 

Amen - It is so.

God created both voices in us so that we may grow and expand, but there comes a time when the voice of mere survival begins to destroy us and we are called to grow into the potential that lies within all of us, as offspring of God.

 

Psalm 23 a song of love

 This is a song that was sung to remind people of how God’s love is like that of a shepherd.Today we don’t have quite so much contact with shepherds unless we live in a rural community, so the meaning of this song is often lost on us.

In the hill country of Judea shepherds were courageous men and boys. But they were not regarded highly in society. That’s why their appearance at the nativity story is so pertinent. They would never normally have entered a royal court or have been invited to witness the arrival of a King or person of note. They were generally regarded as a bit too free spirited. But this song likens a shepherds love and care for his sheep to God’s love and care for each individual human being. We begin with the first line “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” As we shall see as we keep singing, the shepherd provides everything for his sheep so that they want for nothing.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

The shepherd knows the territory. Years of experience and learning have taught him where the safe places are and where there will be shade to allow his sheep to find relief from the sun and rest.

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

Still waters aren’t what we would imagine here in Britain, as a pond or a lake. In the desert still waters were ancient wells dug out by the shepherds forefathers. Heavy stone lids that needed a good deal of strength to move covered them. The sheep had no other access to clean safe water and are entirely dependent on the shepherd to open the well and lower his pitcher down and haul up the refreshing water.

 he restoreth my soul.

The souls was the whole self, there was no distinction made between soul and body at the time this was written. It was the whole self that needed to be cared for. The physical needs of the sheep as well as their contentment and security and care are all in a days work for the shepherd.

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Again here we have a shepherd who knows his territory. His reputation, his name, was dependent on his knowledge and ability to guide his sheep safely from pasture to pasture. Via paths that were right for them to be able to navigate without falling over cliff edges or into holes. This is the meaning here of ‘rightousness’ merely a way of safety.

 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 The landscape that the shepherd had to negotiate was also fraught with dangers. There were many valleys called ‘Death valley’. Inhabited by mountain lions and wolves who saw a tired and straggling sheep as easy prey. The shepherd’s only weapons were his rod – a thick club and his shepherd’s staff or hook. Every shepherd had to be sure of his own skill and strength to fight off wolves and lions with these.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

The courage and commitment of the shepherd is hidden in this verse too.

Before a shepherd could allow his sheep onto new pasture he had to make sure it was safe. The hillsides and fields in the hills were full of poisonous plants and many snakes and other dangerous creatures would be occupying this land. So before the sheep were let anywhere near a feeding ground, the shepherd would go in and use his knowledge of plants to clear away any that were poisonous and check for viper’s holes and bees nests.Only when he was satisfied that it was safe would he allow his precious sheep to come and eat in the pasture he had prepared for them.

thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

At the end of the day the shepherds would find a safe place for the sheep to rest. Many of these places were sheep folds built of stone walls with an open end where the sheep would only be allowed to enter one by one so that the shepherd could check each creature after the days work was done. He would stand at the opening like a door and each sheep would first be checked for scratches and wounds which would be anointed with oil to help them heal before he moved his body to open the fold and allow the sheep in. He would check too for those who seemed particularly weary and would pour olive oil on their heads to refresh them and for the old and those who he had spotted being pushed to the back of the queue at the well he would offer them fresh water from his own drinking cup, filling it to the top so that the sheep could drink from it.

 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The shepherd allowed for all of his sheep who were quite different in their age and stamina. He met all their needs throughout the day and at the end of the day with the sheep all tended and refreshed and safely in the fold. He would lay down in the opening of the fold and his body would become the door, so that any sheep who decided to go for a wander in the night would have to climb over him and alert him and he would be able to encourage them back. He would also be awoken and again ready to defend his precious sheep if any wolves or mountain lions were trying to get into the fold.

This is where our song ends. With all the sheep safe in the shepherds keeping. Refreshed, well fed and defended against danger, as are each one of us, if we will look to the shepherd and trust him to guide us and care for us as well as those courageous men in the Judean hills all those thousands of years ago did for their sheep.

AMEN