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Posts Tagged "The Glory of God":

“Clouds And Glory: Prayers for the Church Year” – David Adam

St Mary's Holy Island East Window

St Mary’s Holy Island East Window

From the Introduction


In the parish church on Holy Island the east window depicts the Ascension. Almost at the apex of this window is a cloud and above that the sun. Because the disciples are below the cloud I often wonder if they are aware of the glory beyond. I ask you, ‘Are you aware of the glory that pervades all things?’…


I seek to believe in the presence and love of God even though a cloud hides him from my sight. Time and time again I turn to the prayer from the Hebrides that says, ‘Though the dawn breaks cheerless on this isle today, my spirit walks in a path of light.’ I seek to know that both are real, the cloud and the glory: cloud, mist, misfortune, illness and darkness are all ever so real and there is no escaping them in this world; but there in the darkness is the Divine Presence. Even in our doubt, he never leaves or forsakes me.


When I lived on the North Yorkshire moors, I discovered what to do when the low cloud descended and made everything dull and grey – move from where you are! No, I do not recommend running away, only a change of perspective. I used to take the car up onto a moorland ridge road, no distance from home, for the tops of the moors were sticking out of the cloud and into the sunshine. If the days had been long and dreary, this often really felt like breaking through into glory…


Some people try to do the same with what they call ‘positive thinking’. I am sure many benefit from this, and positive thinking is a help, but sometimes it is just positively stupid because it does not face the facts of what is really happening. Positive thinking is often a pretend world and not truly dealing with what is around us. If life is to be balanced, we need to face the whole of reality; and that involves cloud as well as glory.


Intercession is not positive thinking, it is facing the real situation in the presence and power of God. It is the attempt to hold the deepest of realities together, to pierce the obvious clouds to see the hidden presence; to get a glimpse of the glory, that we might have strength to walk in the darkness…


I approach God carrying people in my heart and my prayers; I seek to discover that they are already in the heart of God and on their way to glory. I seek to hold on to the two realities; amidst the troubles and darkness of this world, we are all encircled and enclosed in the light, love and presence of our God. Learn to walk in the light, to lead others and uplift others into that light, that you may know the power and the glory of our God.


I believe that one  of the best preparations for Sunday worship is to use the readings for the coming Sunday throughout the week as an inspiration for prayer and intercession. As a young man, I used to use the same Collect, Epistle and Gospel every day from the Sunday through to the Saturday. By the Saturday I often knew the readings reasonably well and began to grasp their content – but there was a new set on the Sunday. I feel now that I had somehow got this the wrong way round: if we used the same readings from Monday to Sunday, when we came together on the Sunday how greatly our worship would be enriched. A wonderful preparation for Sunday is to pray every day of the week before the Sunday. No wonder worship in church is impoverished if we are not praying daily. If possible, use the readings set for the Sunday ahead to inspire and direct your prayers, then when we come together in worship it will be full of depth and meaning.


I would imagine you all know the intercessory prayers for the three church years written by David Adam? Many of you will have your own well-thumbed copies. We have just begun again on Advent Sunday with Year A and Clouds of Glory. S0me of you (all right, confession time, this group includes me) rarely get around to reading the introductions to books – we just leap in. I must have had my own copy of this book (published first in 1998) for over ten years but have only just been nudged to read the introduction, which I think very good. I hope you do too.

The Glory of God: Thought for 20th Sunday after Trinity (Proper 24)

Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God1 Corinthians 10:31

Today’s theme of glory is such a deceptively familiar concept – so many of our prayers and hymns are about the glory of God that the word ‘Glory’ can very easily become just part of the church wallpaper, like the stained glass in the windows. We’re so used to saying it liturgically that it hardly occurs to us to analyse it theologically. But the idea itself has multiple layers of meaning.

The Hebrew word for glory comes from a verb – kabed – which means ‘to be heavy’. And there are a string of contexts where the word is used with various overtones of heaviness, where it is used with connotations of wealth and substance and permanence and severity… And then, connected with the images of wealth and gold and so on, there is the dimension of visible splendour and magnificence: the glory of Solomon; the glory of God that descends on the tabernacle; or the glory that shines from Moses’ face. As well as heaviness there is that second element of radiance and brightness. And thirdly, there is the more metaphorical use of the word, to mean something like honour or reputation.

But glory is a dangerous concept. Martin Luther said the basic problem with Medieval Catholicism was that it was not a theology of the cross but a theology of glory:
This is clear: He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and in general good to bad. These are the people whom the apostle calls ‘enemies of the cross of Christ’, for they hate the cross and suffering, and love works and the glory of works‘Heidelberg Disputation’, 1518 

Summarised from an address given by David Starling

However beautiful the cathedrals we build or the music that we write, we cannot make God more glorious than He already is and always has been. When we are told in the bible to magnify the Lord, we are meant to acknowledge, declare and value the glory that is already there…

You can magnify with a microscope or with a telescope. A microscope magnifies by making tiny things look bigger than they are. A telescope magnifies by making gigantic things (like stars), which look tiny, appear more as they really are. God created the universe to magnify His glory the way a telescope magnifies stars. Tom Ascol

For most of us, we feel the reality of the glory of God when the glory of his world breaks through into our lives:

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying…
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush: to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R S Thomas ‘The Bright Field’

In September 1941, in the darkest days of the war, Pilot Officer John Magee made a test flight of the new model of the Spitfire. Once back on the ground he wrote a letter to his parents, saying he had started the poem at 30,000 feet and finished it soon after he landed. He was killed just three months later.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God
John Gillespie Magee, Jr., ‘High Flight

These are moments of exhilaration. But there are also quieter, more reflective times. Many of us learnt the next poem at school, but its sheer wonderment at God’s creation stays with us down the years:

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what ar
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee? 
William Blake

But we also need to look at ourselves in wonder and awe: we need to remind ourselves that the Divine is within us in all his glory. In his ‘Confessions’, St Augustine complained:


Men go abroad to wonder at the height of the mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long courses of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motion of the stars:
but themselves they pass by without wondering


Finally, remembering Arthur Campbell Aigner‘s well-known hymn:

Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea,

Let us pray:
O God, great and wonderful, who hast created the heavens, dwelling in the light and beauty thereof, who hast made the earth, revealing thyself in every flower that opens; let not mine eyes be blind to thee, neither let mine heart be dead, but teach me to praise thee, even as the lark which offereth her song at daybreak. Amen
St Isidore of Seville

O holy God, we behold thy glory in the face of Jesus Christ: grant that we may reflect his life in word and deed, that all the world may know his power to change and save, though Christ our Lord, Amen




Grateful thanks to the Revd. David Starling for permission to quote him as shown.

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