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the still point
   the dance

To live in the now of the present moment, where all our energies are focused, can be either stimulating or threatening.

To live in the present moment, for that moment in time, is not easy. Always to be wishing some other moment in the future, rather than the present one, leads to disenchantment with life.

But the acceptance of the 'now' enables us to come to a balance of living in the body as well as in the mind. It is the 'still point' in life, the centre of the wheel, that enables the constant movement of living in the 'now', the dance -

                 Time past and time future ...
                 Neither from nor towards;
                 at the still point, there the dance is.

The authors of the New Testament in their responses to the risen Lord unwittingly demolished the pre-Copernican view of the universe with the earth at its centre. before its time! Heaven, earth and hell appeared not to exist for them!

The Lord of the universe was with them in a transcendent presence, and even if they were looking for the imminent revealing of his person to the world in glory, that did not prevent them living and worshipping in the present mode of the 'now'.

As we know, the crisis came when it became obvious that the parousia, the revealing in glory and the perfection of all things in Christ, was not going to happen in their life time.

The acceptance of this delay became the necessity of the ordering of the church in ways which have continued to the present day.

At he heart of Christian worship is Jesus' saying, -'I am the bread of life' - the thanksgiving of eucharist.

Its origins lie in the meals Jesus had with his disciples both before and after his death. It was the celebration of his life - they were to remember him, not his death.

So the stories of the two disciples on the walk to Emmaus and the breakfast by the lakeside recounted in John, point to the reality of a celebration with the Lord.

The human dynamics of responding in person to the risen Lord inviting us to worship, present with us in the 'now', lie in our own relationships as disciples.

At the end of Matthew's gospel there is what is probably the author's own, rather than Jesus' words -

                I am with you always, to the close of the age.

It is a declaration of the early disciples' convictions - a determination to live their faith bodily in the present time.

God made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Ephesians 1: 9-10)

T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, pages 172-173. The Complete Poems and Plays,
Faber & Faber, London, 1969.

© Aelred Arnesen

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