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Prayer of the week

by
02 May 2014

Rob Wickham prays to the 'Jester King' for gifts of giddiness, godliness, and grace

ISTOCK

Funny Lord, Jester King, you are surely a strange God. You have an extraordinary sense of humour to trust your kingdom to a people like us. That you have done so, however, makes us happy - giddy with the confidence that comes from being brought together to share in the adventure of your kingdom. Make us lively and entertaining as your Spirit so that others may be attracted to the wonder of your creation. Amen.

Stanley Hauerwas (b. 1940)  from Prayers Plainly Spoken  (Triangle/SPCK, 1999)

I LOVE the image of a God who laughs and smiles, a playful God who dances and sings and demonstrates all those wonderful qualities of a happy five-year-old with no care in the world. This prayer reminds me of this fact: that it is an extraordinary thought that God entrusts his Kingdom to you and me, brought together in this great adventure. Yet this fact makes God smile, laugh, and be giddy with excitement, and liberally pour out his Spirit to draw us in.

The Revd Cyril Treneer will not be known by many, although to some, especially in the diocese of Exeter, he may be a vague memory of a bygone era. But Fr Cyril had a wonderful gift, a beautiful and playful personality that made me want to smile. He had an effervescent ability in his poems, his reading, and in his conversation to drawme into a world of possibility, fascination, and adventure, which was rooted in joy.

But this grace did not come cheap. His world was rooted in a desire to serve God and his parishes, through prayer and visiting, and a generous outpouring of a sacramental life in some of life's most challenging moments.

He ministered to the people of Plymouth during the Blitz, recalling the saying of the daily Office with bombs flying overhead. He ministered to the people of Lynmouth as the floods rose in 1952, pulling bodies out of the floodwaters. Then he served his parish in South Molton for many years, quietly getting on with the work of building God's Kingdom.

Recognising God as a jester does not cheapen God, in the same way that Fr Cyril's attractive life of childlike creativity and playfulness was not cheapened by catastrophe. But, as Professor Hauerwas reminds us, there is something very attractive about a personality who is full of confidence in the love of God in Jesus.

All too often, we think that a Christian faith must mean seriousness, sternness, and making sure that we all do the right things all the time, especially if someone else is watching. But Professor Hauerwas's prayer to the Jester King is a gentle reminder that God delights in his playfulness, being fuelled in the grace that he loved the world so much that he give us the Jester King in the first place.

Fr Cyril knew that God dances and delights in his creatures. I pray that we may be giddy and full of grace. I also pray that, daily, we may be renewed in his love, with aheart of humility and not of fearful aggression, where we, too, may draw others into that beautiful covenant of grace. People can be beautifully attractive, but the most fulfilling kind of attraction can lead into life, love, and the wonder of creation.

The Revd Rob Wickham is Rector of St John-at-Hackney, in east London.

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