With thanks to Ethred and Shaun
Seven centuries ago, a bishop of the Syrian church, known as Ephrem, urged Christian believers ‘put on the wakeful one’. The wakeful one in question was Christ – who was forever awake and alert to the promptings of God. Two weeks ago, I preached a sermon on preaching in which I said that the church needed preachers who would do their homework. One week ago, Shaun Lambert published his book Putting on the wakeful one, and I read it as ‘homework’ for this week’s sermon. I am very glad that I did.
The book is bulging with insights fascinating enough to draw the reader in and stimulating enough to trouble that reader after the covers are closed. My reason for reading it was that I wanted to preach on Paul’s description of being ‘compelled by the Spirit’. (Acts 20 v.22) Most Christians would agree that is a good thing to do, but many would struggle to know how to do it. As Shaun Lambert says, following the ‘footsteps of the invisible one’ is no easy thing. He argues that a contemporary obsession with the acquisition of data and knowledge has obscured a vital pursuit of the wisdom of God. Our ‘attention muscle’ has wasted, and we are no longer able to ‘turn the face of the soul towards God’ (Bernard of Clairvaux).
The book has many, many insights to share. However, the two on which I majored yesterday were these. Firstly, in order to re-awaken that attention muscle when turning to God there must be:
- intention (this is a deliberate and intentional act)
- attitude (to approach God with arrogance or disinterest is a lost cause)
- attention (as counter-intuitive as it has become, we need to inhabit thoughts and feelings in a quest for connection with God).
Secondly, Lambert argues that God may be found in all NINE senses, and not just five, The additional ones are:
- Our sense of our feelings
- Our sense of our own thoughts
- Our sense of what others are thinking and feeling
- Our sense of God
Of course, the book expands all of this in far more detail than I could do in the pulpit. However, conversations afterwards would suggest that some appetites have been whetted.
Thank you, Shaun!