Placing our life into the hand of God

Good Friday – 2017

Marian Free

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.

The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,

The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy

Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony

Of death and birth.

 

You say I am repeating

Something I have said before. I shall say it again,

Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,

You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

In order to arrive at what you do not know

You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess

You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not

You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know

And what you own is what you do not own

And where you are is where you are not.

T.S. Eliot, East Coker

Good Friday – 2017

Marian Free

In the name of God who is our all in all. Amen.

“Wait without hope for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.”

At first glance, Elliot’s poem expresses a view of life that is bleak, desperate and hopeless. “Hope is hope for the wrong thing, love is love for the wrong thing. You must go by the way wherein there is no ecstasy, by the way of ignorance, the way of dispossession.” The poem expresses sentiments that are completely at odds with message of the culture of today. In popular culture, in our magazines and on our televisions we are bombarded by stories of people who insist that anyone can achieve anything as long as they set their minds to it. Popular culture gives the impression that a person’s future is entirely in their own hands – they just have to have a positive attitude, believe in themselves or work hard enough.

Elliot, a Christian, knows that the reality is very different. The poem expresses an understanding that ultimately we have very little power to determine the course of the future. All of us, rich and poor, powerful and vulnerable are subject to the instability of the planet, the frailty of our bodies, the ever-present threat of disease, the carelessness of others, the cynicism of politicians and the greed of those who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of others. In reality each of us has very little control over every aspect of our lives. The only certainly, the only still point in a world that is beyond our ability to direct is God. God alone knows how the future will turn out, God alone can see us through whatever this temporary, unpredictable life has to offer.

Ironically, the only way to achieve anything meaningful and eternal is to surrender control, to cede all power to God, to allow God to determine and direct our path, to trust that God will bring us through to wherever it is that we are meant to be. Only by surrendering ourselves completely to God will we discover the direction in which we are intended to travel. Only when we give ourselves completely to God will we be sure that we are hoping for the right thing, loving the right thing. Only a life totally aligned with God can be a life that is truly godly.

These are the truths that Jesus’ life reveals. As the Son of God, Jesus could have done anything, been anyone. Jesus could have ruled the world, sought glory, riches and power. Instead Jesus chose to surrender himself completely to God, to do only those things that he believed were of God. So completely did Jesus trust in God’s direction that he endured the shame of arrest and trial, the indignity of flogging, the torment and pain of the cross, the emptiness of death and the uncertainty of where it would all end.

Only complete and total surrender “to the way wherein there is no ecstasy”, brought Jesus to where he was truly meant to be. Jesus’ surrender of himself led to his victory over death – not only for himself but for each one of us. The horror of the cross was transformed to the joy and triumph of the resurrection.

We cannot know what lies ahead. We do know that we can trust God.

Let us, with Jesus, surrender control, step into the unknown and place our lives completely and utterly into the hand of God.

 

Intercessions

God whose Son surrendered himself entirely into your hands, open the eyes of all who “hope for the wrong thing” – those whose desire for power and control, for wealth and security disempowers and impoverishes others. Help us and all humankind to surrender ourselves entirely to your will so that the world might become a place in which all people live in freedom and peace and in which all have an opportunity to reach their full potential.

God in whom we trust. Hear our prayer.

God who turns despair to hope, defeat to victory, death to life, give to your church such confidence in you that it will not fear for its future or seek to protect its position in the world, but to understand “that the faith and the love and the hope are in the waiting”. May we surrender our desire for certainty to the knowledge that all things are in your hands.

God in whom we trust. Hear our prayer.

God whose love for us knows no bounds, give us the skills we need to be bearers of that love to others – especially to those who betray and abandon us, who hurt us and let us down. May the dispossessed and powerless experience the life-giving power of your love.

God in whom we trust. Hear our prayer.

Jesus who became vulnerable even to death, support and uphold all whose lives are beset by illness and strife, give courage to the dying and hope and confidence to the living.

God in whom we trust. Hear our prayer.

Jesus who took “the way in which there is no ecstasy”, give us the courage and confidence to surrender ourselves wholly to you, that we with you might pass from death to life eternal.

Accept our prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord who taught us to pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…

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One Response to “Placing our life into the hand of God”

  1. Betty Dingle Says:

    Dear Marian,

    Thank you for these last 2 Swallowsrests……a special Easter gift .

    My love,

    Betty

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