Thought for the Day by Robin Fishwick
Striding out from the pavilion
Pavilioned in splendour
And girded with praise
When Robert Grant penned those words, I suspect the pavilions he had in his mind were magnificent buildings he had seen in his childhood in India. My childhood was in the Midlands and the what that line evoked in my mind was the pavilion of Bramshall Cricket Club and smells of creosote, tea and pineapple weed. We would go there on Sunday afternoons in the sixties, because my Dad was the captain. I would like to say that I remember watching him with pride as he strode out to play a captain’s innings and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but that wouldn’t be true. My main memories were of travelling to Bramshall in the back of Mr. Mitchell’s Ford Anglia and drinking Vimto in the Beer Garden of the Butcher’s Arms after the matches.
As humans we like to have our gods in pavilions – or something similar – not the Bramshall kind, but the Robert Grant kind. We imagine them drinking mead in Valhalla or nectar in Olympus, only occasionally taking an interest in Earthly affairs and then making some little intervention before going back to their feasting. Even in the Christian tradition we can lapse into this way of thinking; of a God who sits in the pavilion watching things unfold and occasionally strides out to play a few strokes when things start getting out of hand – David has just had Uriah done in in order to steal his wife. I can’t have that. I’ll have to smite his baby. Saul is persecuting the disciples. What? Really? I’ll give him a blinding light and tell him what for.
Some people don’t believe in divine intervention, because they don’t believe in a God to intervene. Some people don’t believe in divine intervention because they don’t think God ever steps out of the pavilion. But for me the main problem is the question “What is God doing the rest of the time?”
“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done…” So Jesus told us how to open our conversation with God. This opening is not there to put you off disturbing God, but it serves as a reminder that Heaven is not a remote place where God is and we are not, but a kingdom that comes and a will that is to be done. It is a reminder that God is already on the job of love being brought to the world, there in every fibre of our being. The purpose of prayer, as has often been said before, is not so much to ask God to intervene as to find what God is doing and how we can join in.