Man, its cold. Even here in Jamaica where the windows are all closed tonight. And my daughter told me that she woke up to see snow flurries on the car this morning in South Miami. Wow, things are really changing as the arctic freeze takes a hold of the USA and Europe. Sad to say, things remain the same here in my country as the murder rate, which reportedly was the highest ever last year, continues unabated. People are generally pessimistic, in respect of our social and economic situation, about our future. But life goes on. Some folks are getting engaged whilst others are getting pregnant. Some are dying and other are being born. Some are returning overseas to school and to work, whilst others continue to seek employment. The cycle continues, so it seems, endlessly.
In the midst of this unrelenting surge of life, I happened on a meditation from an Anglican mystic , Evelyn Underhill, who lived in England in the late 18 th and early 19th century. It stopped me in my tracks as it spoke in a very profound way, inter alia, about the supernatural life. This, at a time when the media is placing a focus on the role of the church in our dysfunctional society, and questioning how the church in some instances has failed us, helped me to placed the debate in a different perspective. Further, the Lord led me this week, repeatedly to examine the message in one of the Bible's most profound passages - the Benedictus - and which reflection spawned a text message and a deeper appreciation of the role of Christians in a troubled society. Finally an adult Christian professional, sought my assistance this week, in doing what was palpably wrong, which was one matter. But even worse, did not wish to hear anything about the word of God, or prayers, or anything that might in any way contribute to a change of heart, as the individual's mind was fully made up. An agreement was reached about a silent prayer, but I was badly shaken. Even the appeal for need for us a part of the body of Christ to be salt and light to a troubled nation had no effect. No, trouble was at hand and a solution was needed, and that's all that mattered. So to what end this declaration for Christ if in the midst of trouble, there was no appeal to the supernatural God, but rather to "bow", without apology, to the immediacy of the moment as perceived by the natural man.
First, Evelyn Underhill - THE ONLY REAL APOSTOLIC LIFE
What then is a real man of prayer? He is one who deliberately wills and steadily desires that his intercourse with God and other souls shall be controlled and actuated at every point by God Himself, one who has so far developed and educated his spiritual sense, that his supernatural environment is more real and solid than his natural environment. A man of prayer is not necessarily a person who says a number of offices, or abounds in detailed intercessions, but he is a child of God, who is and knows himself to be in the depths of his soul attached to God, and is wholly and entirely guided by the Creative Spirit in his prayer and and his work. This is not merely a bit of pious language. It is a description, as real and concrete as I can make it, of the only really apostolic life. Every Christian starts with a chance of it; but only a few develop it. the laity distinguish in a moment the clergy who have it from the clergy who have it not: there is nothing that you can do for God or for the souls of men, which exceed in importance the achievement of that spiritual temper and attitude.
It is only through adoration and attention that we make our personal discoveries about him ....I think that if you have only as little as half an hour to give each morning to your private prayer, it is not to much to make up your minds to spend half that time in such adoration. For it is the central service asked by God of human souls, and its neglect is responsible for much lack of spiritual depth and prayer.
In the flood tide of such adoring prayer, the soul is released from the strife of confusion of temporary life; it is lifted far beyond all petty controversies, petty worries and vanities - and none of us escapes these things. It is carried into God, hidden in him.
A major problem in the church, occasioned by the real needs of the society, especially in a country like mine, is the temptation to " cut off Malchus' ear" all over again - a metaphor for those who would take matters into their own hands, spurred on by their natural way of thinking, and the perceived urgency of the moment, without consulting the supernatural God - whose plan for the salvation of the world involved His Son being beaten and killed. The only safeguard against such measures is to spend time listening and drawing close to God, in and through a complete submission to, and trust in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and then await the promised
" pouring out", of the supernatural Holy Spirit whose power and wisdom and direction will allow for God to receive all the honor and glory. And for a nation to repent of doing evil, which has taken place by; " hugging up " area leaders and don men, who despite their Robin Hood type life style, are men of evil intent and carry out evil actions; by "hugging up" dancehall artistes who promote the gun culture, surely one of the most evil things to have happened in this country; by " hugging up" politicians who are known by many to be men of evil, and associated with the distribution of guns and the corruption of the souls of our youth; by "hugging up" corruption and extra-judicial killing by members of security forces rather than denounce it for the evil that it is; for " hugging up" evil among the "high and mighty" in our church rather than encouraging repentance. You can almost hear Evelyn Underill saying : " Hush ye men of strife and hear the angels sing". As it is only those who have attuned their ears to the sound and reality of the supernatural, can help a nation mired in debt and slowly being sucked into the pit of hell by a " celebrated" culture of violence and immorality, to appeal to a God of mercy and compassion who desires all, without exception, to find peace in and through His Son Jesus Christ.
Next week the Benedictus. Amen