Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Scary Prayer

There's a line that I read recently in the context of Will Deming's Paul on Marriage and Celibacy (which, by the way, is now done). I actually only read the last half of it first, and while I'm 99% sure I've heard it before, it's still the most haunting line in Christian liturgy that I've ever heard. It's from the post-Eucharistic prayer in the Didache and it goes as such:
Let grace come, and let this world pass away.
Let grace come, and let this world pass away. There's something melancholy in those lines; such a lack of care for the present state of affairs. I realize intellectually that it has, at least on some level, the same implications as the intention "Come, Lord Jesus." But its tone differs.

When I saw the prayer again in Deming's survey, the only part he used for comparison (and thus the only part that I reread there) was the part of the intention that God would "let this world pass away." When you hear it like that it almost sounds despairing--"take this world away, God!" But the context of the sentence, if not the Christian liturgy itself, makes it clear that whatever this says of the value we place on the world as it is, the point is the greater value on the grace that comes...This world passes away, and we have a new heaven and a new earth...

Sometimes I think it's easier to have that prayer on our lips when things are going badly. Maybe what I need to do is get it on my lips even when things feel like they're going well. But still, in any case, that phrase haunts me...

Let this world pass away...


Pumice said...

I think a similar feeling could be found in the words of John the Baptist when he said, "He must increase and I must decrease."

The world will pass away...and then comes the new earth and New Jerusalem.

Grace and Peace

Dan said...

I agree with Pumice...and it is indeed very melancholy, but there is a haunting beauty in it.

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