Turning and Returning at St. Paul’s
St. Paul’s is the first place I arrived, through grace, after I had begun to understand that “the anvil of God” – awful as that sounds! – is a beautiful, creative process in which one is freed (perhaps born crying!) and truly changed. It is here that began what I can only describe as a “radical conversion” and “transformation” as well.
Speaking for myself, it seems to me that the first flush of newness of life in Christ (that I was aware of) was accompanied by intense gratitude and overwhelming joy, a sense of remembrance – as in something, some state of being, “re-turned to” as well as “turned toward” for the first time. This was followed shortly by a sense of regret and sorrow for having “forgotten” and wandered well astray that characterizes another part of what the word repentance indicates. In the fullness of what these terms mean, I cannot shy away from a shocking (though it is shocking), offensive (though it has always been “offensive”) and now also “culturally inappropriate” word like salvation. Someone famously said, “I have been saved. I am being saved. I will be saved.” To me this well expresses the truth of salvation in Christ, past and present as well as the process – the on-going walk; the event, the affirmation and the calling by which we are sent forward. It is like being on the path again; no longer at sea! In my experience, the land upon which God’s path could be found, explored and lived out with others, in whatsoever ways we are enabled by His Spirit to do so, was here at St. Paul’s in the context of this community.
Anyway – here is the prayer that arrived to me: