Furthering Holiness, the Diocese of Lincoln's supplement for daily prayer, is available here to download.
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The Bishop of Lincoln writes: I am deeply grateful for those who have compiled and revised Furthering Holiness and I commend it to you as an aid to prayer – both during the Daily Office and in those times of informal prayer when we need to be encouraged by the example of the saints.
Looking at the lives evoked in this book, I am encouraged and challenged in two ways. First, the story of these holy men and women is a reminder of something we have always known: that God calls ordinary people to be his disciples and saints. It is not God’s way to recruit via a talent show like the X Factor, when likely boys and girls with the right basic ingredients in terms of looks - and sometimes even musical ability - are groomed for stardom.
God’s way is to take the ordinary and transform it into the extraordinary. He does this when he takes the bread and wine of the Eucharist and transforms it into the Body and Blood of his Son; when he takes water from the tap and turns into the life-giving waters of baptism; when he takes oil we might cook with and turns it the oil of new life, healing and gladness. Jesus did this when he chose his first disciples, who were a ramshackle group of largely manual workers who became the saints and martyrs of the Early Church. The implication for us quite clear: you and I have nowhere to hide – God wants to transform each one of us into the likeness of Christ.
Secondly, these are the holy men and women of Lincolnshire. I am new to this part of the world, but learning fast. It is clear to me that there is something deep down in the soil of our countryside which is profoundly holy.
There is a story of two young fish swimming along a river one morning when they encounter an older and perhaps wiser fish who greets them with, ‘Morning boys, how’s the water today?’. The young fish looked puzzled and swim on. After a while one of them turns to the other and says, ‘What the hell is water?’.
They had not noticed that their whole lives were lived within water and without it they would die. We live our lives within and surrounded by the love of God – but we don’t notice it, we take it for granted. What the Lincolnshire saints remind us is that God calls people like us, in a place like this, to be his saints.
May this book play a small part in furthering our lives of faithful service.