Prayer of The Chalice

Some days it's easy to believe the image above is the entire story.
But I believe that "each bad story carries always within it the seed of another more hopeful reading."


In the midst of all trials and tribulations
 of our daily news
whether it gets into print or not
 how desperately we all need 
to open our hearts every day
to read another narrative that somehow never fails to get right under the skin.

Image source

This story contains
the seeds of the only news about us that matters.
Inside it is the good news of freedom.
It's there deeply imprinted
into our hearts but we are often blind to it.

"We listen to the evening news with its usual recital of shabbiness and horror,
and God if we believe in him at all, seems remote and powerless...

But there are other times - often the most unexpected, unlikely times -
when strong as life itself, comes the sense
that there is a holiness deeper than shabbiness and horror
and at the very heart of darkness a light unutterable."

Originally from "A Room Called Remember" ~ Frederick Buechner  

These past few year years I've become interested in Fr. James Alison's work on Rene Girard's mimetic theory and atonement. I haven't found it easygoing but there has been something that rings true in it. 

 John Davies at his site, "Notes from a Small Vicar " explains it well here.
and recommends another book.

I've just ordered the series of books by James Alison called Jesus, The Forgiving Victim. 

If you are new to all of this, I can also recommend this site. 
It's a pretty comprehensive introduction to mimetic theory with many resources.

Alison says that it's so difficult for us to grasp intuitively now, as modern people what it means to be created, that we are secondary to something much much bigger than us that is holding us in place. Alison says that primarily, what Girard's work enables us to recover is the sense that we are brought into being by what is other than us. Accordingly we desire according to the desire of "another."
But this "Creator Other" is always massively prior to us.

The idea is, that if one starts from that perception it then becomes possible to imagine how that "Other"  moves towards us from their own space into ours and how that moving towards us is prior to us. 

Alison believes that we are in the process of beginning to recover a sense of what we are celebrating in our religion, which is always a sense of God moving towards us. 

It's to do with the creator coming into our midst and changing our whole of our way of relating from what is within us.The ancient atonement liturgy was to do with the restoration of creation.

 Alison also believes that Christianity has forgotten that sense and Christianity has been conveyed too long as a story of "The Father did one thing and Jesus came along and did another thing later," which he calls a form of "Di-theism." 

Alison's writings help to reframe our understanding of faith and the events that we are living in now can be seen in a new way; in that we are on the inside of an incredibly long generous act of God's communication towards us, which is undoing us in our violence, and showing us who we are truly able to become.

Frederick Buechner says this~ Originally published in The Magnificent Defeat

"For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. 

It is not objective proof of God's existence that we want but the experience of God's presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get."

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.

St Luke's quote below seems to fit
  a world of show and spin.

Oh you Pharisees. 
Although you cleanse the outside
 of the cup and the dish, 
inside you are filled with plunder and evil - Luke 11:39


As Margaret Silf says,

"The gospel message turns each of us inside out.
What is revealed on the inside 
may look very different from the image we present on the outside.
How easy it is to see this disconnection in others, how hard to recognise it in ourselves"

I'm not so sure that I entirely agree with Silf.

The reality of our existence never quite lives up to our flattering self-conceptions.

I can recognise it in the simple but poignantly honest lyrics of the song "These Were The Days of Our Lives"
"Sometimes it seems like lately - I just don't know
The rest of my life's been just a show"

 or in Robert Burns poem 

 "O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

 People are liberated, Burns asserts, by their ability to see themselves objectively—i.e., as objects, from the outside.

But despite the overwhelming importance of perspective in colouring our experience, the problem is that at root it remains subjective. 

One of the problems of the modern world is that we are increasingly recognising the unflattering dissonance in ourselves and the damage it wreaks on ourselves and others.The sad fact is that it may take a lifetime for self knowledge to accumulate;  a major problem is that we don't know how to talk about and deal with it, without acting it out in all the tired perverted ways. 

Very few of us learn how to pre-empt it. Our default mechanism is so often one of calling it out, then the judgement, and the sentence, retribution, begrudging reconciliation- if we are lucky, somewhere down the line, but always, always it comes at such a heavy cost with the inevitable and bewildering collateral damage to others.

It can be acted out on the stages of our individual life stories
and on the world wide stage through all cultures and faiths - history shows us the consequences. Nobody and no-one seems immune to it.

I hope and pray that we are beginning to see and feel with new clarity the stirrings of a new consciousness in our age, however tenuous and fragile these are. 

I hope and pray that we are being guided by God and the Holy Spirit who is showing us how to take small but significant steps that are carrying us over the threshold.

We all have to look at death in the face at some point in our lives. There are small and big ones and the whole point of my Christian faith lies in the belief that there is no death in Christ, only life. 

When St Paul wrote, ‘As all die in Adam, all will be made alive in Christ’, he meant ALL. 

I believe that we are all people of the resurrection and at times these words may sometimes seem to us an idle tale, that we find hard to believe. 

But it is true

So as we go back to that tomb, looking for that body, let the amazing truth dawn on us, and today, this week, this year and forever, let us embrace the life of Jesus, let us live the resurrection. 

 and yes, Christ gives us His presence in the Eucharist.

"I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20

Prayer of The Chalice
by Frances Nutall

Father, to You I raise my whole being
– a vessel emptied of self. Accept, Lord,
this my emptiness, and so fill me with
Yourself – Your Light, Your Love, Your
Life – that these Your precious Gifts
may radiate through me and over-
flow the chalice of my heart into
the hearts of all with whom I
come in contact this day,
revealing unto them
the beauty of
Your Joy
of Your Peace
which nothing can destroy.

Come to this table not because you must, 
but because you may,

not because you are strong,
but because you are weak.

Come, not because any goodness of your own
gives you right to come,  

but because you need mercy and help.
Come because you love the Lord a little
and would like to love him more.

Come, because He loved you
and gave Himself for you.
Come and meet the Risen Christ,
for we are His Body.  

 Come, when you are fearful,
 to be made new in love.

Come, when you are doubtful, 

to be made strong in faith.

 Come, when you are regretful, 
and be made whole.

Come, old and young, 
there is room for all.”

Text From “Gathering for Worship” - Christopher J. Ellis, Myra Blyth

Song below - Jesus is Love, by Lionel Richie

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