Monday, December 20, 2010

"When I feel alone, I reach for you and you bring me home"

As Christians we are not utopians, but neither are we pie-in-sky navel-gazers. His Grace, Bishop N.T. Wright, begins his magnificent book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church , by asking "What are we waiting for? And what are we going to do about it in the meantime?" In the first instance, according to Bishop Wright, we hopefully wait "for salvation, resurrection, eternal life." Nonetheless, at least for the Christian, our waiting "is about the discovery of hope within the present world: about practical ways in which hope can come alive for communities and individuals who for whatever reason lack it."

I wholeheartedly agree with His Grace when he goes on to insist that "[a]s long as we see Christian hope in terms of 'going to heaven,' of a salvation that is essentially away from this world," then our view of heaven has nothing to do with our present life. God made man for us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth shatters this silly illusion, which is why we pray during these dark and final days of Advent for the key of David to "[c]ome and lead the prisoners from the prison house" and be the Light for "those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death."

The lovely and talented Belinda Carlisle, who arose from the gritty L.A. punk scene to become a kind of American sweetheart, especially in her solo career after the success of the Go-Gos, brings this home for us:

When the night falls down I wait for you
And you come around
And the world's alive
With the sound of kids
On the street outside

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis


  1. Question, Scott (rather unrelated to your post but i'm asking since you used the word).

    Is the title, his Grace, only used for Eastern Bishops? In addressing a Bishop, could one use the title, your grace, for a Roman Bishop as well? I find the title, your Excellency, a bit stuffy and out of place with a democratized country in which we live. I realize that we can simply address a Bishop as Bishop [name].

    However, I was wondering if, Your Grace, is considered ok too.

  2. In the U.K. the title Your/His Grace is used for all bishops, even Roman Catholic bishops. Bishop Wright is an Anglican bishop and so is properly called His Grace.

    For me it all depends on relationship. For bishops that I know, like my own bishop, I simply say Bishop, but use their last name so as not to reduce them to a title. For bishops I do not know, especialy in writing, I have no problem using the honorary title Your/His Excellency. Typically, in the U.S. we do not refer to R.C. bishops as Your Grace, but it is a matter of course among Anglicans. There is also the matter that I hold Tom Wright in very high regard, indeed.

  3. I meant to comment on this earlier, Belinda Carlisle: I recognized the words in your title right away!


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