Archive for the ‘worthiness’ Tag

Monday 28 November 2011 – “Under my Roof”   Leave a comment

Two bible passages were set for today’s Advent reflection: Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 8:5-11.

The title for the day comes for the story in Matthew of the Centurion who had a sick servant and asked Jesus to heal him in and when Jesus said he would come the Centurion says:  “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof” [Matthew 8:8 NIV], the King James version renders it: “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof”.

That sense of having to be worthy, or not being worthy, is not very prevalent in the C21st UK culture in which I live, we don’t pay deference to Kings, Priests or Teachers (I am not saying we should).  We assert equality of rights (I do say we should). In fact I think the most prevalent cultural use of the term worthy is in the mocking deference borrowed from the 1992 film “Wayne’s World“.

What do I mean when I think of (un)worthiness before God?  Most churches have some statement or reflection on unworthiness in the lead up to the  Communion, Eucharist, Mass [delete as suits your sensibilities].  The Anglican church uses one of several forms of The Prayer of Humble Access. The version I am most familiar with includes these sentences:

We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.
But you are the same Lord whose nature is always to have mercy.
[“Common Worship”, Church Publishing House, 2000 p.181]

That prayer in the service has always been important to me.  Even when I was worshipping in a non-conformist tradition if I happened to go to an Anglican communion it stood out.  Now it is part of what I value in a set liturgy.  Familiar words that I don’t have to dissect, that don’t trigger long semantic or theological debate inside my heard.  They just trigger very simple honestly held feelings:

  • I am not worthy
  • You God accept me.

Two other themes came up in this mornings brief reflection but I just park them here for now and might expand them later; I must get on with my paid work.

Firstly, that our images of God are often based on (sometimes distorted by) our images of man/woman.

  • The Centurion could command his troops and slaves so expected Jesus to be able to remotely command whatever was making his servant sick.
  • Isaiah talks of God judging between the Nations.  I feel sure that emerged from his experiences close to the politics of his day.

Then secondly, I am a life long pacifist.  That is a position that frequently has to be wrestled with.  My father volunteered as a medic during his National Service because of his beliefs and my Grandfather similarly was a Conscientious Objector in World War 2.  So this dream/ hope/prophecy in Isaiah of course has resonance for me:

He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

[Isaiah 2:4 NIV]

Posted November 28, 2011 by Martyn Cooper in Advent 2011 Reflections

Tagged with , ,