Friday, 27 February 2009

Weekend post

It's been a busy week for me with academic work: a few more months of busy weeks like this and then I'll be finished the degree, God willing.

That doesn't stop me pondering and searching, though.

Margaret writes of Fear being the first sin. I think she may be right, and said as much in a comment there; I also mentioned something I'm starting to believe more strongly than I once did, that love is stronger than fear. Since then I've been thinking that a lot of scripture tells us to fear God, and a lot of scripture tells us not to be afraid, and I tend to interpret these two things very differently. It would be good to look into the context and translation in more depth at some point.

The Exegesis Fairy posted about Agenda and the Great Commission. I think what she was saying is similar to the sermon I heard on Sunday night. Another reader has a different interpretation of scripture and so I waded in... as much to understand my own beliefs as to understand his. Result? I'm still confused, but I'm slightly more clear what it is that I'm confused about. Some of the discussion there is the good old knotty tangle of scripture and truth and interpretation, which is not too bad if you decide the Bible is a source of inspiration and narrative truth but gets to be problematic very fast if you start trying to say that some bits are factual or literally directive--how do you tell which bits? And if it's all factual then we've got some serious problems. Some of the discussion is more a discussion of salvation. It won't surprise most of you who've read my posts so far that I'm not very comfortable with the idea of God's unconditional, unlimited love resulting in a quite narrow, restrictive and conditional salvation. I have a suspicion that humans made this part up. (The Exegesis Fairy is not online as much as usual at the moment, so it might be sensible to comment here rather than there.)

I also liked A Sermon for the Future, particularly this bit: So what is it to say Christ is Risen? It is to say that one can and will live within a renewed vision of hope, that the world can be ethically remade, that we will serve one another and seek the common good... I too have difficulty with scientifically implausible concepts like physical resurrection. Understanding some of the anthropological, humanist aspects of this story makes me feel more comfortable with it, to relate to it differently. Not, I think, comfortable enough to say the Apostle's Creed or receive the Eucharist, but I think I have a better understanding of why others do.

Today in a discount bookshop I spied a single copy of Work and Prayer, compiled by Chris Keating. I bought it. I think I will continue to use Morning Prayer (Common Worship) from the C of E website as the anchor to my morning, but I like the idea of having a short liturgy I can use at other times of day. It isn't that there is anything wrong with my rather more spontaneous, unstructured prayers, but borrowing words seems to be useful and meaningful. I do like that the morning and evening prayers have hymns in them in this book but alas, no notes, though I guess with only seven weekdays I can find the hymns and memorize them, easily enough.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm feeling drawn to more structured prayer in my life recently. It may be that I'm trying to find some ballast to balance the chaos of my academic and work commitments (I have a different schedule every weekday, and no two weeks are the same). It may be part of a more general yearning for a feeling of closeness to God. I'm trying not to worry about it too much, and just see where the journey takes me. But I do have some idea where I might be going.

I think I may eventually end up regularly attending Morning Prayer at a church (probably after my degree is done, for practical timing reasons if nothing else). This will be a bit strange as I normally sing the psalms, to whatever tune comes out; I may eventually get a psalter to use, but for now I see nothing wrong with improvisation. But I think most parish churches probably have spoken Morning Prayer.

I can also see myself compiling bits of liturgical material and ending up with a sort of prayer book of my own. I'd like to get the Summary of Law in there, and the prayer of St Francis. I prefer hymnody when I have the musical dots to look at, and I might like some sort of short list of prayers for various occasions, a bit like the Jewish bracha books with all the blessings in them. The big difficulty with that plan is a lack of portability; my work teaching and performing means I am out and about quite a lot, and while I can usually pray first thing in the morning at home, other times of day are not so easy. It may take me a while to settle on which material to include, and temporary bindings (ring binders and the like) tend to be bulky. So for now I'll be keeping things simple, using books other people have written or compiled.

What would you include in your own personal prayer book? What prayers do you have memorised?


Grandmère Mimi said...

George Herbert on prayer:

Prayer, the Church's banquet, Angel's age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, the heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth.

George Herbert's feast day was yesterday.

I know a good many prayers, but each day I say, from memory, the short form of Morning and Evening Prayer from the The Book of Common Prayer, which both include "The Lord's Prayer".

28 February 2009 21:11

Erika Baker said...

I ask God to guide my prayers. "your prayers, not mine".
Doesn't always work:-))