In this session Robyn Wrigley-Carr interviews former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams about the themes of the book, particularly God perpetually initiating, waiting on God and forgiveness.
Dr Rowan Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, PC, FBA, FRSL, FLSW is a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from December 2002 to December 2012.
Start the session relaxing as a group. You could share a meal, go for a walk, or even just have a chat over a cup of tea. Whatever you do, make sure everyone feels at comfortable and at home. When it’s time to start moving towards the session’s content, shift the conversation towards prayer and ask everyone what their experience of prayer is.
You can structure this how you think best. If the group knows each other well already, a free-flowing conversation will be fine. If the group is less well established, it may be best to go round in a circle giving each person a brief opportunity to share their experience about the topic. Don’t let too much discussion develop at this point (if any). What’s important is that every begins to get comfortable talking and sharing and that you as leader get a gauge on where everyone is at.
In the silence of Advent waiting, we can attend to God, and, like
Mary in her pregnancy, we will find ourselves enlarged in the waiting. Evelyn wrote in her personal journal that her life was too fast and
packed with events and noise, adding that she would never improve
in prayer and vision unless she had stretches of quiet. We all know
what it’s like to be carried away by the world’s craving for haste and
immediate results. In these short excerpts, Evelyn encourages us not to
be hurried or harried but to develop a leisured attentiveness, training
ourselves to feel God’s gentle pressure and hear His Voice.
A balance between surrendered waiting and action is what’s needed. And as we find ourselves becoming more sensitive to the music of God, and more responsive to Him, our self-giving to others will be enriched.
God perpetually initiates – He goes before us and sets things up. God creates, initiates circumstances which result in opportunity. It’s in the ‘co-incidence’ of life where we find meaning. It speaks of creation, co-ordination and orchestration.
The second part of the book explores the idea of waiting on God and the importance of silence in our prayer life. We need to block out the distraction of the busyness of life and be attentive and intentional about our praying. When praying, our thoughts and words should align as God can hear both! To aid this we can simplify our words and be physically still, slow down our breathing and be present in the moment.
Another theme of the book, especially in part four, speaks of embracing Gods coming. The prayer of adoration is the remedy from the desperate spiritual exhaustion that we can experience. Adoration is the way in which we recognise that God has God before us. It’s creating enough space to allow the breath of God to resonate in our spirit. God urgently wants to pour into all corners of the world; to adore, is to align with this and to say, I know you are there. Adoration of God leads us to action. There is a big difference between saying, I am truly grateful for the passion of Christ, than saying, I am truly grateful, therefore, I am called to action for others. Adoration moves us to action, or active discipleship.
In part four of the book, one of the themes is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process; it doesn’t wipe out the past, it builds the future. It is our call to respond to God and one another, a free and generous response. To forgive, in this way, avoids a life of resentment, which is destructive.