One of the things which has been mentioned to me often by a particular generation of Christians, is an action which happened as part of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, in which people formed a physical ring around Birmingham to pray.
I think of this quite regularly because it seems to be an example of a particular moment of significance such that it has imprinted the imaginations of an entire group in a very profound way.
It contrasts with the way we so often live in stasis; hoping for something beyond where we find ourselves, but not feeling able to contribute to that something beyond and so collapsing back into paralysis.
Rowan Williams says: “power practices being deaf”.
We do not feel our own power. Living lives distant from the scene of sorrow, we become desensitised to the cries that tell us all is not well. We often practice being deaf as a form of anaesthesia.
And yet! “Wake up, O sleeper!” cries Ephesians.
I hear that cry in my own life, to break my peace with the present, and to let myself be roused by the something beyond and to call others to join in that also.
So many of us long to be called higher, to belong in a full sense, and to be animated by what is life-giving.
The renewal of these things carries the hallmarks of the Spirit, which is not of us. I am writing this in part because I long for more of the Spirit. Something I read recently spoke of the fruit of the spirit as being also ‘a quality we must possess to be led by the Spirit’, and I long for that too.
There is something of this longing in the broader narrative advent which reminds me of both the tenacity and expectancy of those who were witness to the birth of Jesus.
May there be new life in this time too.