Andy Hawes is Warden of
Edenham Regional Retreat House
‘O come let us adore him’ we will soon be carolling, and soon the cards depicting the ‘Adoration of the Shepherds’ or the ‘Adoration of the Magi’ will dropping on the mat. From the mantelpiece they will look at us on their knees, heads bowed, offering their gifts, some of them with their eyes fixed in wonder and praise on the Christ Child. Adoration might be described, in the phrase of St Augustine, as ‘the mind in the heart and the heart in the love of God.’
Adoration is wordless praise, it is thanksgiving, it is the simple joy of being in the presence of God and in the key expression of John’s Gospel ‘dwelling’ or ‘remaining’ in his Love. ‘O come all ye faithful’ beckons us in a litany of invitation. ‘O come let us adore him’ – adoration may sometimes break in on us as an unexpected gift, but it is also an act of will, of discipline.
I am reminded of the Stations of the Cross: ‘we adore thee O Christ and we bless thee for by thy Holy Cross thou hast redeemed the world.’ We adore Christ
because he has died for us – we drop to our knees because the cause of Christ coming, his death and resurrection is our brokenness and sinfulness. Each Eucharist reminds us ‘it is our duty and our joy to give you thanks and praise’. Adoration is a duty.
I was asking one of our local saints about his prayer life. He remarked that he always began the day with ten minutes of adoration. He went on to say ‘it is about acknowledging the fact of God.’ Adoration is a wordless confession of faith in God the Creator, the Redeemer, the Lover of Mankind. Adoration is a sure way into the presence of God. There are, of course, prayers and hymns of adoration to Christ present in the Eucharist, and to be sure the Christ of Bethlehem is present in our Holy Communion, but the act of adoration my friend is describing begins in aloneness with God that is the sure ground of all prayer.
If the thought of a wordless act of will puts you off the idea of a time of adoration, it is possible to begin with various prompts or aids. The paintings reproduced on Christmas cards might be a starting point, or a phrase from a hymn or carol, or it could be a few phrases from the psalms. It may even be the memory of a time of spiritual consolation – a recollection of joy. For some it will be frost on a twig or the flash of a bird’s wing in the garden.
Wherever we begin, let us enter into the reality of eternal love. The Shepherds after the ‘shock and awe’ of the angelic host came to worship Christ; the Magi after long searching came to offer their gifts. Surely, we too without such danger or drama can bend our being in the presence of God. ‘O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.’