Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Prayer and Parable

I had an interesting conversation this afternoon with a vicar visiting Sheffield from Kings Lynn, on prayer and disciplined patterns of prayer. He's been thinking about such things since he visited the Millennium Dome in 2000, and observed how many people visiting the Spirituality Zone were attracted to Eastern religions, specifically because of their sense of discipline in meditation and/or prayer. I lamented the fact that few of the visitors would be aware of the similar prayer disciplines within the Christian tradition, because those traditions were among the many good babies thrown out with the dirty dishwater by successive Protestant reformations as the church first shaped, and then was shaped by, the Modern era of history (shaped both in colluding with and in opposing the spirit of the age). So now we have generations growing up in the West who inherently know there is something good in a disciplined rhythm of prayer, but are disconnected from Christian models - and who rightly recognise that a Christianity devoid of such things doesn't have much spiritual weight to it - and so look elsewhere...

On a similar vein, I'm off to Sweden next week, and one of the things I love about the Lutheran church there is its rich sense of sacrament, symbol, icon, ritual...the things of the church that evangelicals in the UK have tended to discard as (at best) anachronistic - which I guess they are to my parents' generation, but they aren't to mine. The emerging Post-modern cultures inherently operate at these levels, rather than at the 'logical' levels so valued by their elders. And the symbolism of the church is both a potential door, and potentially creates a habitable space beyond that door, for young adults that I find really exciting.

A re-discovered rhythm of prayer throughout the day, and re-discovered sense of rite and ritual, sacrament and symbol, are essential if we are to engage with our nation today and tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment