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Showing posts from November, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come

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"Thy Kingdom come," we pray every Sunday, and rather more often, I hope. What do we mean?

Jesus reluctantly admits to Pilate that He is indeed a King, but His Kingdom is not of this world: not of fighting, not of political power, but of truth. Elsewhere, He tells us that this Kingdom is already here, within us. And yet He tells us to pray for the Kingdom to come. So, we are left with a Kingdom of truth, a Kingdom of the heart, which is in one sense already here, yet in another, yet to come.

C.S. Lewis explains this paradox as something like living in enemy territory even after the war has been won, like those Japanese soldiers stranded for decades in the jungle who never realised that they'd lost the war. And prayer is a kind of spiritual warfare. It's warfare against sin, certainly, and especially against the sort of sin that leads to the violence committed by earthly kingdoms and caliphates, satrapies and soviets. But it's a war that begins internally, with th…

2 before Advent: My, what large stones you have! Or, the Temple that will never fall

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The disciples were almost incredulous at the size of the stones the Temple was made of, and well they might be.
Some weighed more than 100 tonnes, and the walls were twenty storeys high. But, you might wonder, hadn't they been there before? Perhaps not. None of them were local to Jerusalem. For them, going there was much like going to the Vatican or Hagia Sophia for the first time might be to us, but without the benefit of guide books or photographs beforehand. Even their parents or grandparents' reminiscences might not have lived up to the reality, since the Temple had been extensively and opulently rebuilt by King Herod fifty years before, surrounded by soaring Greek columns and vast cloisters. It's not surprising that it exceeded their visual expectations; but what the Temple meant to them, their symbolic preconception of it, would have been very clear indeed, and only magnified by the staggering immensity of its architecture, because the Temple meant nothing less than t…

Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics

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I'm now now reading the Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, which is not the dull primer it sounds like. Rather, it is an intriguing compilation of essays edited by Stanley Hauerwas and Sam Wells arguing that we must derive Christian ethics directly from the narrative and pattern of the Eucharist. Worth a read, especially if you want to embed your Christian life, parish work and preaching more deeply in the Catholic conviction of the centrality of the Mass.

All Saints, All Ears

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"Listen:" the first word of the Rule of St Benedict, one of the oldest rules of life for monks and nuns. One word, carefully chosen, one simple order given as the basis for the entire spiritual life. Benedict could have chosen another word, like obey, or pray, or preach, or work, but his experience told him that all that comes later. First, just listen. I think it's harder than ever really to listen, there's so much to distract us nowadays.
We do spend a lot of time pretending to listen, though. How many times have you heard politicians being interviewed saying "I hear you?" - and you know full well that what they really mean is, I hear you, but I haven't got time actually to listen to you. Your words have passed through my ears, but I'm not going to bother to process them now, because what I've got to say is more important.
But it's not just politicians - most of us are guilty. You visit an ailing and elderly relative, and you're sick …