Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Praying the Scripture - Leaving the World behind

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

1 John 2:14-17
I have written to you who are God’s children
because you know the Father.
I have written to you who are mature in the faith
because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I have written to you who are young in the faith
because you are strong.
God’s word lives in your hearts,
and you have won your battle with the evil one.

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.


I was an art student in the nineties, a mature student, but nevertheless…One of our trips to London involved a visit to an exhibition by the YBA – Young British Artists – which included Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin and other equally outrageous young artists. The exhibition was called ‘Live Fast, Die Pretty’, a barely concealed reference to the famous line - ‘Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse’. A motto followed (but, for all you movie buffs, not quoted) by James Dean who died at the age of just 24. I remember thinking, as a late-thirty-something, surrounded by all these twenty-something students ‘Do you even know what you are saying?’

Living fast is a young thing to do. It is a selfish time with often just one thing to focus on – you. The only way to get anywhere is fast, the fastest way is a straight line. You have come this far – school, GCSE’s, A levels, the Degree, the good job. And along the way you grab at every opportunity that steps into the road. Some good, some bad, some indifferent - you try everything - because, at this speed, you are not going to get another chance, you are racing to a finish but it is the race that is important; where you are at each checkpoint; you haven’t ever sat still long enough to imagine what comes after the checker flag is waved.

We can, I suppose, blame this on ourselves. We live, mostly, in Khronos time, which the world invented, involving marking off seconds, hours, months and years. It is transient, fleeting, neglectful. Time that travels in straight lines – you can’t go back, you can’t skip forward – it marches inexorably on –tick, tick, tick. You step on at birth and off again when you die. You will leave people behind - you may never meet your grandchildren. There is no logical explanation for before or after – so it doesn’t happen. Like ripping off the pages of a desk-top calendar – it all becomes so much ‘rubbish’.

Time can also be thought of Kairos time – God time. This is the way time moves on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or at a hospital bedside. It is the time that our ancestors lived in. The circle of the seasons; the phases of the Moon that brings time around and around; the links in time that means that both the dead and the yet-unborn can influence the actions of the living. It is the time that is within each of us – the time that we were brought from and the next great step through the darkened mirror. It is not the future; it is the Always - the gift and promise from God. So it does matter; what we do and what we believe; there are connections. But these are the connections of a spider’s web or an intricate labyrinth and to cross these requires attention, faith and trust. You can’t travel driven with ambition, heavily laden with ‘stuff’ or pandering to a worldly-wise ego. But then, why should you? With the confidence of the Always love of the Father for you, you can step forward with an open heart and a mature faith and you will always be Pretty – in fact you will be beautiful.


‘Passing Time’

It is truer now, more than ever before, that we race headlong through life. The technology that promised us so much ‘free’ time now seems to have us tied within its clutches – 24 hour TV, mobile phones that can ‘get’ you wherever you are, the car that means you are always available, the computer that means you can work from home.

Our lives become more and more harassed. And yet, we feel sorry for those who do not have our technology – who go to bed when the sun goes down, who walk to work, who wash by hand, who walk five miles for water and who farm the land and cook only freshly harvested foods. Yet these people have time – they have the ‘time’ to spend with God, to form the relationship that we have forgotten about. Their minds are not filled with the distractions and necessities of our modern life. Those things that are so important, or are they?

We often imagine that, in our society, only the religious orders have the time to meditate, to contemplate, to sit and daydream, to sit and do nothing.
But why? We all have some time in the day to offer. A programme that we usually stare blankly at, twenty minutes in the bathroom, a walk with the dog, the New Year’s resolution of a jog around the park.

For this week, give those twenty minutes to God. Don’t make a fuss about it. Don’t ritualise it. Don’t get stressed about it. Just invite God to take up some space in your consciousness for a chat. Don’t worry that He won’t hear you; He doesn’t have to come far, He’s always been close inside you – just waiting for the invitation.

If you are able to do this – what has been the result? Does this have an effect on the priorities in your life? Does the ‘world’ view seem less important as you move closer to God? Does this encourage you to find a quieter time, a still place to be with God. How can you do this?

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.


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