I have a particular soft spot for Ambrose of Milan, having studied his writings as an undergraduate. His correspondence in particular reveals someone who was passionate about his faith, strong in his convictions, and didn’t suffer fools gladly!
I find the quote in this chapter an interesting one: “let no word pass your lips in vain, no meaningless word be uttered”. I’m know I utter plenty of meaningless words – I’m sure I’ve typed plenty of them on this blog. And I daresay Ambrose uttered, and I know that he wrote, his own fair share of meaningless words too.
But when it comes to the words we use in worship, he has a point. Often it’s not the words of the liturgy itself that make it inaccessible to people, but the strange little phrases of Christianese with which we surround it. And some of these phrases also convey a theology which is not what we profess to espouse.
My own particular bugbear at the moment is asking God to be “particularly present” in a specific situation. God already is present – absolutely as present as it is possible to be. What we are really asking for is a greater awareness of God’s presence.
That’s one example. There are many others, – I am continually noticing phrases in the way I speak which do not express the theology I believe, and consequently trying to change the language I use.
I wonder what the words we use say about the God we believe in?
This year for Advent Book Club we are reading “Unearthly Beauty” by Magdalen Smith. Join in on Facebook or Twitter using #AdventBookClub.