“From a Wandering Nomad . . .”

For the past few months, Christ Church Vienna has been using elements of a Kenyan liturgy in its worship service. One particular section strikes me as an excellent encapsulation of the narrative arc of the Bible in exactly 100 words:

It is right and our delight to give you thanks and praise, Holy Father, living God, supreme over the world, Creator, Provider, Saviour and Giver. From a wandering nomad You created Your family; for a burdened people You raised up a leader; for a confused nation You chose a king; for a rebellious crowd You sent Your prophets. In these last days You have sent us Your Son, Your perfect image, bringing Your kingdom, revealing Your will, dying, rising, reigning, remaking Your people for Yourself. Through Him You have poured out Your Holy Spirit, filling us with light and life.

This passage was drawn from this site, where the entire Kenyan liturgy can be found. (The original Swahili can be found here.) In addition to its remarkable compression, it shows a gradual unfolding of God’s plan in history from His first appearance to a nomad (Abraham) in the burning bush and His faithfulness to an unlikely leader of an exiled people (Moses) to the underdog king of a tiny nation (David) and, ultimately, to Jesus Christ, God’s “perfect image,” who would bear none of the defects or shortcomings of his predecessors.

The wording emphasizes, without qualification or hesitation, the continuity of the divine conspiracy: through Christ, God did not upend His work in, or change the terms of his covenant with, ancient Israel. Rather, He extended His will and continued to reveal Himself in the acts of Jesus’s passion, “remaking [God’s] people for Himself.”

What a powerful restatement of the Christian view of history, of God’s everlasting kindness to His people! Amen.

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