Come, Lord Jesus! Do I dare
Cry: Lord Jesus, quickly come!
Flash the lightning in the air,
Crash the thunder on my home!
Should I speak this aweful prayer?
Come, Lord Jesus, help me dare.
[Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season]
* * *
“There is no such thing as an event that we can fully know in advance…So when I call ‘Come’ to an event, it is always possible for the unexpected to occur….If a Christian prays ‘Come’ to Jesus, as we are enjoined to do, then we should be aware of what we are doing. It is important for use to mark the otherness of Jesus Christ, not to believe that we already fully know who he is. No one who reads the New Testament has the right to think that the Jesus variously represented there is altogether given to us in the order of knowledge. We pray with a deep trust that God does not deceive us, yet we need to remember that our prayer is addressed to a transcendent deity whose otherness is not to be reduced. Even the most vigilant Christian succumbs from time to time to accommodating God to a preferred image of him, and it is salutary to be reminded that when we call ‘Come’ we are perhaps calling a Savior who will shatter the image of him that we have so carefully constructed.”
[Kevin Hart, Postmodernism: A Beginner’s Guide]
* * *
These passages were at the front of my mind during Advent, a season of expectancy, of calling “Come,” but they are just as important in the long summer stretch of Ordinary Time. “Thy kingdom come” is part of the oft-recited Lord’s Prayer that I’ve been exploring over the past several weeks.
We play a part in bringing about the kingdom of God on earth (such phrases as “agents of renewal” and “redeeming all things” still ring in my ears from my time at Calvin College) even as we call for Christ to come. The difficult—and awesome—thing is that these comings don’t always, or even often, look the way we expect them to, as David Hart so eloquently explains. And so this is a strange and wondrous prayer, not easy, but rich beyond imagining.
Alissa Goudswaard lives in Lafayette, Indiana, where she is completing her MA in rhetoric and composition, baking all the cupcakes, and attempting to teach herself guitar. Find this Calvin-grad-turned-stark-raving-Episcopalian online at episcotheque.wordpress.com and on Twitter as @episcotheque.