GOOD CONVERSATION with a young friend today.
What do you suppose Jesus was doing when he went off alone to pray? – I think it’s where he came home to himself.
I was stunned. I’ve seen sunset over Galilee from a hillside vantage-point and remember, as though it were yesterday, saying out loud: “here I’ve come home to myself.” The mental image of Jesus doing just that is a glorious one and it was present, for me, in our Monthly Monday Meditation tonight.
Earlier in the day we’d been grappling, at our weekly Vicar & Wardens meeting, with the passionate sense we have, at Bramhall Parish Church, of a call to speak about Jesus and about the things of faith in God in an intelligent way, in ways that make “words about God” – theology – something accessible and intelligible to as many 21st century children, women and men as we could imagine.
We spoke of my being regularly stymied by the inherited language of a great deal of Christian hymnody, heavily laden with substitutionary atonement theology and patriarchy, together with some of our liturgy and prayer. We’re looking for new – modern – language resources, and towards restoring some of the best of the ancient too, wondering about writing some of our own, praying from the heart, mindful of our call to embrace any and all who seek to “come home” to themselves and God, fascinated and hugely encouraged by the fact that at least as many people gather for our silent monthly meditation sessions as for other “Fresh Expressions” we know of. We’re praying daily for Grace to care and to dare.
In order to come home to ourselves, we should realize that what we really need is a radical reeducation from head to toe – Gus Gordon, Solitude & Compassion: The Path to the Heart of the Gospel, Orbis Books, 2009
Radical reeducation from head to toe. Yes: I think that’s what Jesus of Nazareth was advocating. And his vision arose directly out of his own frequent opting for solitude and compassion. Wilderness again. Solitude. Facing up to demons. Realigning ourselves. Grappling. Envisioning. This is praying. Coming home to oneself and God – the Source of the life in us.
Maybe the future of the Church will depend, to some degree, on Christian people’s willingness to step outside churches once in a while. In much the same way as the work and worship of the local synagogue is extended outwards and beyond – via family homes and daily observance, (I love the descriptive “an observant Jew”), so the Christian community should be encouraged to observe sacramentality in their daily lives and practices – the Church’s sacramental practice was not intended to replace that of our ordinary, every day lives, but to enhance and develop it.
For most Christian people ritual translates into liturgy and sacrament, with a distinctive assignment to who can facilitate the ceremony. As people mature into a more adult sense of faith they begin to realize that ritual-making is everybody’s prerogative, and everybody’s responsibility – Diarmuid O’Murchu, Adult Faith, Orbis Books, 2010
What do you suppose Jesus was doing when he went off alone to pray? – I think it’s where he came home to himself …
Me too. So I’ll be happy, in company with my fellow pilgrims here, to continue our searching – in words and in silence – for language with which at least some of the presently disenfranchised may be able to pray, coming home to themselves, alongside our own homecomings, today.