Saturday, December 08, 2007

The pattern of Advent...

An absolutely brilliant Advent passage from The Lord and His Prayer by N. T. Wright (Eerdmans, 1996) - hat-tip to Vicky K Black.

When we call God 'Father', we are called to step out, as apprentice children, into a world of pain and darkness. We will find that darkness all around us; it will terrify us, precisely because it will remind us of the darkness inside our own selves. The temptation then is to switch off the news, to shut out the pain of the world, to create a painless world for ourselves. A good deal of our contemporary culture is designed to do exactly that. No wonder people find it hard to pray. But if, as the people of the living creator God, we respond to the call to be his sons and daughters; if we take the risk of calling him Father; then we are called to be the people through whom the pain of the world is held in the healing light of the love of God. And we then discover that we want to pray, and need to pray, this prayer. Father; Our Father in heaven; Our Father in heaven, may your name be honoured. That is, may you be worshipped by your whole creation; may the whole cosmos resound with your praise; may the whole world be freed from injustice, disfigurement, sin, and death, and may your name be hallowed. And as we stand in the presence of the living God, with the darkness and pain of the world on our hearts, praying that he will fulfil his ancient promises, and implement the victory of Calvary and Easter for the whole cosmos - then we may discover that our own pain, our own darkness, is somehow being dealt with as well.

This, then, I dare say, is the pattern of Christian spirituality. It is not the selfish pursuit of private spiritual advancement. It is not the flight of the alone to the alone. It is neither simply shouting into a void, nor simply getting in touch with our own deepest feelings, though sometimes it may feel like one or other of these. It is the rhythm of standing in the presence of the pain of the world, and kneeling in the presence of the creator of the world; of bringing those two things together in the name of Jesus and by the victory of the cross; of living in the tension of the double Advent, and of calling God 'Father'.


June Butler said...

Mike, I thought of highlighting this passage on my blog, but I got distracted by the reading from Amos in the daily office. The two passages pair together well.

Our adult study group was watching and discussing Wright's "Simply Christian" series on DVD, but I dropped out - not because his talks were not good, because they were, but partially because the discussions afterwards were dull, with the same few speaking most of the time, and the others not saying a word. Of course, I realize that the silent ones may have learned a thing or two.

But the major reason that I stopped going was because the meetings were at nine in the morning, and I am not a morning person. That's pathetic, isn't it?

Mea culpa.
Mea culpa.
Mea maxima culpa.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to link to it on my blog. It is speaks almost exactly to what I wrote about tonight.

Thanks Mike.