Friday, 27 July 2012

Michael Rosen and Our Redemption


This film features the wonderful Michael Rosen reading his equally wonderful "We're Going on A Bear Hunt", one of the twins' favourite books. She can recite the entire book, word perfect! Have a listen, it's a joy to watch, truly!

I was offering the Sacred Mysteries the other day and for various reasons opted for Common Worship Eucharistic Prayer A. I have recited this prayer on many occasions, but until this week hadn't noticed the stress on the idea of something being through something else. As it struck me, Michael Rosen wasn't far behind with this rather catchy story - you can't go over it; you can't go under it; you gotta go through it. 

In the Eucharistic Prayer to which I refer, there are three ways in which we focus on this notion of "through". First is God, present "through" Jesus, the next being our redemption "through" Jesus' earthly existence and thirdly, our place as adopted children in God's Kingdom "through" Jesus. This could (and had done to me until this week) seem like a semantic nicety, and thereby missing the point completely.

Michael Rosen demonstrates well that "through" is a committed pathway to take. Under or over is about bypassing something, not engaging with it. "Through" is also the hardest pathway to take. We weren't redeemed alongside Jesus' sacrifice. We haven't been adopted despite or in association with the person of Jesus. God isn't present with us in a kind of happy double-act. These things happen "through" Jesus and the importance of the visual aspect of that are significant too. "Through" is evocative of something pierced, something broken, something smashed - with risks to us who do the passing through. In the moment when we are passing "through" we are wholly consumed, surrounded. No evasion, so circumlocution, no bush-beating - just a committed act. 

What is implicit in Rosen's story and perhaps more explicit in the Eucharistic Prayer (once I got it) is that a journey that passes through something else is more meaningful. When the risk is confronted and the destination reached, it is a journey that can imply success over adversity or, in the case of the prayer, a journey the cleanses and saves, not simply a pleasant excursion. 


  1. One of the things that fascinated me when I was working on this design for a labyrinth was that at various stages you had to go THROUGH the crown of thorns in order to reach the centre...

  2. Powerful!

    I couldn't help but think of a scriptural affirmation of the swishy swashy splishy sploshy squelchy squinchy going through process:

    Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
    Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
    Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
    Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
    Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil (Psalm 4:23-27)

  3. Ooh. My kids are teenagers. I'd forgotten this gem. What a great book to use at baptism services. I've over used Quentin Blakes 'We all join in' Time for some new theology

  4. The same imagery appears in the Prayer over the Water in the Baptism service, in a threefold repetition ... Over water, Through water, In water ... In it, By it, Through it ...

    We thank you, almighty God, for the gift of water to sustain, refresh and cleanse all life.
    Over water the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.
    Through water you led the children of Israel
    from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land.
    In water your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us from the death of sin to newness of life.

    We thank you, Father, for the water of baptism.
    In it we are buried with Christ in his death.
    By it we share in his resurrection.
    Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.
    Therefore, in joyful obedience to your Son,
    we baptize into his fellowship those who come to him in faith.

    It's a rythmic pattern I try and stress as I recite it.



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