RESTORATION

MY FRIEND ALAN MORRIS reminded us in a sermon here yesterday of the infinite care that is the work of a master art restorer.

We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

Ephesians 2.10, Jerusalem Bible

We talked over lunch, too, of Paul Tillich, and – as clerics are wont to do – of the vicissitudes and inadequacies in the life of the Church, and ourselves as members of her. Alan’s a Roman Catholic. I’m an Anglican. Close friends for years and both “arrested”, as Tillich would have it, by God “beyond religion.” And our truest and deepest lifeline is, precisely, in our having been so arrested.

And if someone is arrested by God and made aware of the ambiguous character of his religious life, religion is not taken away from him. But now he realises that even this cannot give him the meaning of his life. He does not have to lose the meaning of his life if he loses his religion. Whoever is arrested by God stands beyond religion and non-religion. And if he holds fast to his religion, it becomes something else to him. It becomes a channel, not a law, another way in which the presence of the ultimate has arrested him, not the only way. Since he has reached freedom from religion, he also has reached freedom for religion. He is blessed in it and he is blessed outside of it. He has been opened to the ultimate dimension of being.

Paul Tillich, The Eternal Now, page 75

Prayer and contemplation seek to maintain that “opening” in the now and in the eternal. We are caught up in a work of restoration.