Parish Magazine Article - August 2021

 

“In our present Covid dominated and shaped world it is a timely reminder if we needed it that as Christians we have a hope beyond present circumstances.s.”


I have learned in the Christian life to be prepared for surprises. One of those for me was discovering that the 1662 Prayer Book language can be both inspiring, deeply moving and have a depth of spirituality that when taught liturgy in my training college and curacy never revealed. I accept it will never be everyone’s cup of tea and more importantly often needs to be explained or translated for our modern ears and audiences.

 

Cranmer wrote it to provide liturgy in the language of the people and to make worship available and accessible to all, not just a few well-educated people who understood Latin!  He certainly would not expect us to be using those words in the same way just over 350 years later!  Worship needs to reflect the time and context of the people of our own time and we have many creative liturgists in our own day who seek to make our worship accessible and awe-inspiring.

 

However, one prayer that was written originally in sixteenth-century English is still particularly helpful. It was shared with me by a colleague who died last year and who sent me this prayer on my ordination as a priest. I found his letter recently when I was looking for something else and once again I was reminded of its power. It isn’t actually from the Book of Common Prayer and it is attributed to Sir Francis Drake although there is doubt that he wrote the whole thing. It is likely to be based on something he wrote in a letter, whatever its true pedigree it struck me as both encouraging and deeply faith-filled.

 

Disturb us, Lord, when

We are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things, we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love. Amen

 

In our present COVID dominated and shaped world, it is a timely reminder if we needed it that as Christians we have hope beyond present circumstances. It also challenges us to put our trust in Jesus and to seek to be bold in our faith despite our apparent circumstances or to quote St Paul.

 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake, we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:35-39

 

 

AD Derek