Today is Friday, the 28th of March in the Third Week of Lent.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo sing: ‘Baba wethu singenile’:  ‘Our father, we have entered in the holy place, as you have invited us.  Be close to us.  Open our hearts to understand your word.  Remove the darkness that surrounds us and give us your light.’

Today’s reading is from the Prophet Hosea.

Prophets are often associated with anger and remonstration and Hosea too was not adverse to telling people off when necessary but in this extract we have some of the most beautiful poetry in the Old Testament: “I will love them freely…I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily, he shall strike roots like the forests of Lebanon…they shall blossom like the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon…” This reminds us of the intense love God has for all of us.  How do you want to respond to this immense love?

Think of the words of that wonderful promise; not only are they directed to Israel they are directed to you. God loves you freely; he wants you to blossom and to thrive. That is the wish of a loving Father for His child. How might God wish you to grow and to blossom? What has He given you to help in this?

In this passage Hosea is also warning against idolatry. We may not pray to blocks of wood or lumps of stone but 21st Century Society has erected its own idols: prosperity; wealth; physical possessions. Do you allow yourself to be seduced by these things? Do you allow yourself to think that they will bring you happiness? Ask God to help you see.

As you listen again, hear that word ‘fragrance’. It’s an interesting word in this particular context because it refers to something which is palpable; something which can be discerned, something which can almost be seen. How visible is our Christian discipleship? Can people tell from the way we behave that we are followers of Christ?

In these last moments of the prayer, speak to God about your discipleship.  Offer yourself in any way you can, now.