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.