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Abba – the Lord's Prayer

At today’s Remembrance Sunday service I was struck once again by the centrality of the Lord’s Prayer to every form of service. Remembrance Sunday is a difficult service anywhere, with memories of so many dead in so many wars. It was doubly hard this year, the 90th anniversary of the end of the first Great War, among serving soldiers and others seeking to create the kind of development that may defuse the seeds of future war.

In the middle of the memories of past wars and the hopes of preventing coming wars, a service that has many elements contains the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve been greatly enjoying, and finding unexpectedly challenging, a book by Evelyn Underhill, “Abba” – a series of meditations on the Lord’s Prayer. Today I found particularly sharp a passage on “Thy Kingdom Come”:

“It is true that the most drastic social reform, the most complete dethronement of privilege, cannot of themselves bring the Kingdom in; for peace and joy in the Holy Spirit can only come to us by the free gift of the Transcendent. But at least these can clear the ground, prepare the highway of God; and here every act of love, each sacrifice, each conquest of prejudice, each generous impulse carried through into action counts.”
A challenge to me to ensure that my work – all there is time for at present, I fear, along with daily prayer and a bit of time in the gym – is indeed a generous impulse carried into action, and a conquest of prejudice. That way I can indeed feel that I am part of the action of God’s Will that makes such war less likely.
This may seem an unlikely reflection for today. But the unlikely is – happily – the way of God’s Will. Evelyn Underhill again: “It was by an unlikely route that Christ, the country carpenter, itinerant preacher, and victim of local politics, carried humanity up to God. It was in defiance alike of the probable and the suitable that St. Paul was chosen, seized, transmuted, and turned to the purposes of the Will.” So by God’s grace there’s always hope.
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POSTED 09.11.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments (4)

4 Responses to “Abba – the Lord's Prayer”

  1. On November 9th, 2008 at 11:05 pm Kerry Dawkins said:

    Interesting.

    Peter, I really struggle with the whole remebrance thing as a justification for war. I cannot post the stories and teachings of Christ alongside the machinery of global wars, and all the pomp and circumstance of the cenataph and all that. I was moved by an old man who talked about not wanting to remember the terrible things, that haunt him, how he was traumatised by the state to maintain an unjust clasest society. He has a major point. I cannot put Pilot’s encounter with Jesus, and thing we are called to do anything different to Jesus. if avoidance of violence was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me. I will continue to wear my white flower and not a red poppy

  2. On November 10th, 2008 at 10:40 am James said:

    Well put Kerry. I too find the collusion between the powers, being canon fodder counter to ideas about the Kingdom of God.

  3. On November 10th, 2008 at 1:08 pm Michael Radcliffe said:

    I agree.

    I have a problem with the sentiment: “Remember Our Glorious Dead.” Nothing glorious about it as far as I’m concerned.

    However, I’m able remember the dead, and how terrible it was that they had to die at all. In that sense I will participate in services of rememberance without too many qualms.

  4. On November 14th, 2008 at 2:12 pm PeterR said:

    Kerry, I can’t find in my blog, nor in my own feelings, any sense of “a justification for war”. I happen not to be a pacifist – that’s why I was in the Army at one time – but I’ve seen few wars that I regard as just. However, what I was trying to write about was the Lord’s Prayer, not the merits of military service. My own calling now is to create the kind of development that makes war less likely – and the challenge of Evelyn Underhill’s comment is, to me, that I need to embody the “acts of love, sacrifice, consquest of prejudice, generous impluse carried into action” that she (in my view rightly) judges to count.

    I’m happy to have a debate about the rights and wrongs of military service, but I really didn’t see that as the core of my blog. However, that’s blogging – it certainly generates a very free-form debate (:-))