Friday, 2 January 2009

Keith Ward

Just been reading Christianity - A guide for the Perplexed - a number of the congregation have mentioned Keith Ward to me and as I hadn't read anything by him and it was on the church bookshelf... I did wonder about the impact of reading it on the train in a clerical collar, but hey...

It had lots of thought provoking bits, but the piece I found most inspiring was the piece on prayer, and in particular Prayer of Reception where he suggests using the fruits of the Spirit

(the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Gal 5:22-23 and after giving examples of how this might work goes on:

"In outlining the fruits of the Spirit, I have wholly ignored the complexities that inevitably arise in real life — dilemmas about when we should forgive, when we must exercise compulsion to avoid great harm to others, or when we cannot be kind. The Christian life is not one that ignores the realities of evil and conflict in society. Thus mention on these fruits must always be individual and particular, and cannot be encompassed in any brief and general list like the one I have just provided. It must be a self-examination of a unique life and situation in the presence of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This is a difficult discipline but it is vital that these ideals are contemplated, that we attempt to conform our lives to them as far as possible, and that we ask for the power of the Spirit to enable us to do so. This is the prayer of reception, of receptivity to the Spirit of God. It could be called 'confession', since it involves self-examination. Yet it does not concentrate on our sins and failures. It rather concentrates on the positive characteristics the Spirit will give to us, and on the possibility that we may become instruments of the Spirit of God, in a real if always imperfect way."

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