Monday, October 01, 2007

So let the Spirit draw us near

Relentless lover, God in Christ

Words: Marnie Barrell

Tune: Kingsfold

Relentless lover, God in Christ
who died to set us free,
unswerving as your love for us
may our commitment be:
to come and learn what courage means,
and take the challenge up
to walk with Christ through death to life,
to drink His bitter cup.

And when we come, may that fierce love
be tasted, touched and known,
as we who gather round the Cross
meet in Christ's death our own.
God grant we shall not fear to drink
His cup, the blood He shed,
nor let our hands, unwounded, shrink
from taking up His bread.

So let the Spirit draw us near
to find, in hope and trust,
His broken body risen here,
His life renewed in us.
Life given, life renewed again
in thousandfold increase;
He lives, and sends us out to be
His living gift of peace!



Anonymous said...

ah, now here's a theme you don't hear much in American churchs today... oh to taste the bitter cup.

Loy said...

Some profound writing there... and I must admit that part of me trembles before that prayer. But we must drink or die; we have no choice: human life is spent between death with Christ to life, or merely death.

We flee the cup to our own detriment -- that is, the detriment of our true self.

The cup kills what is not true, and then we find ourselves new born sons and daughters in the draught. Conversely, the lack of the cup kills what is true; and therein is the human story!

Do we flee the cup because all the natural self screams not to take it? or do we tremble before it, yet drink?


Anonymous said...

well said, but I doubt most of us really understand what the cup holds. All I've been able to dare is a tiny sip, and the burning has only begun. That's why I love your quotes of those who have tasted more - and somehow found the love of the Bridegroom in the midst of the fire. There is much of me yet that calls for santification, if somehow I find the courage.

Loy said...

And thankfully, here is a paradox of grace: even when we flee the cup, our Abba uses that flight in our tapestry of sanctification.

Thus we find, as sons and daughters, the cup is about not so much about courage as it is about weakness: His clothing himself in weakness so that our weakness can become strength [i.e. courage] -- our weakness finding its full intent in Him.

The quickest way to the cup is to admit that we aren't strong enough to drink it. And then in that utter weakness, to drink, because we have no other choice. Only false weakness refuses to drink; that is will to power clothed in garments of weakness.

As the Apostle put it: "When we are weak, then we are strong."

Or, as Kierkegaard might frame it: despair is the door to the true self.

And, on the other side, divine strength! Joy, rejoicing, gladness, courage, renewed strength like the eagle!

Anonymous said...

what about terror? quite frankly, I've learned just enough about the contents of the cup, that the thought of drinking more is terrifying

Loy said...

I think it’s instructive that one of the last things Jesus says to His disciples, before He drinks the cup, is this: “Be not afraid.” “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

And, the first thing He says to them when He rises from the dead is this: “Peace be with you!” Shalom, friends!

And this, repeatedly: Peace! Be not afraid!

So, He totally understands the fear associated with the cup…

Also, realize that He drank the cup in all its bitterness, so that we could drink the cup in its health. He took the sting from the cup so that we could be healed in the draught.

And finally, realize that sometimes such fear is not of the cup, but of what we fear of God. If so, it reveals something false in our awareness of God. Sometimes we are given, through no fault of our own, a toxic view of God – very often through failure of authority structures in our lives, we unconsciously assume the same radical hurt in accepting all that God is and offers us…

MacDonald says something to the effect that rejecting this kind of God is a sign of true faith at work in us: His Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are sons and daughters of God; and, as such sons and daughters, we cannot act on what is false about our Abba. So we reject it until we know the true…

It could be that your revulsion of the cup is [in part] a rejection of a false view of God. If so, let it expose areas of pain and woundedness, and open them to the most loving Father you can ever conceive, whose love goes so infinitely beyond what you can ever ask or imagine… let Him heal the false and give you the true, and perhaps the cup will then be bracing, but wholesome!

God bless you this night!

In Him,

p.s. I’ll be out of town for a few days, so I may be unable to blog… I’ll reply when I can, though!

Marnie said...

Hi Loy - I'm the writer of the hymn text you quoted, and I've been very interested and moved by your discussion of the themes. "we must drink or die" - yes! It's like that line about the Holy Spirit from TS Eliot, "the choice is only fire or fire". That's a wonderful insight, that "The quickest way to the cup is to admit that we aren't strong enough to drink it. And then in that utter weakness, to drink, because we have no other choice. Only false weakness refuses to drink; that is will to power clothed in garments of weakness".

I entirely agree that our basic fear of the cup is really fear of a falsely represented God. I don't know the MacDonald passage, but there's a similar idea in(I think) Harry Williams in "True Resurrection", talking about that punitive, hateful false God as like some dreadful old "Uncle George" that we dutifully pretend to love but actually dread and despise, and the beginning of real faith is to reject that.

And yet courage is a virtue we hear rather little of now in our sheltered lives. We're almost proud of our cowardice as a very natural and unobjectionable little vice. I see you quote CS Lewis as a favourite writer (me too, I was riveted at age 8 by The Silver Chair and never looked back!)and I sometimes think how incredulous he would have been at our self-preserving timidity and aversion to any effort or discomfort, even so few years after his time. I think that's one of the reasons I felt moved to write this text - wanting to express a sense of the high seriousness of what we do in Eucharist, and the kind of demand it makes on us to walk with Christ and drink his cup - to face that challenge willingly, knowing it will ask more of us than we've ever given to anything else in our lives.

Marnie Barrell
Christchurch, New Zealand.

Loy said...

Hi Marnie,

I'm humbled and blessed by your comments -- thank you!

And, thank you for a fine hymn: it captures part of that eternal mystery of divine human relation and formats it for worship. A divine task, and thank you!

Many blessings to you! I hope to comment more later...

yours in Christ,