Prayer and Prophecy

signpost-517941__180In my last post I noted my sense of poignancy on learning that Kenneth Leech had died on the day Jeremy Corbyn was elected.

It seems to me a strange coincidence. I do not know whether they ever met. I do not expect that they would not entirely agree politically but they were, I think, likely to find agreement in their socialism and distaste for Capitalism.

For me Kenneth Leech was the voice of socialist challenge rooted in the catholic stream of the Anglican. His death marks the departure of a highly influential man from the second half of the last century. Carl McColman has written a fine In Memoriam.

I am surprised that none of his books featured in my 2014 ‘Libray of Life‘ series about authors who had shaped my ministry and theology as a Baptist minister. I bought all his books but now have only three – Soul Friend, True God and a collection of excerpts from his many books: Prayer and Prophecy.

Soul Friend and True God is foundation reading for anyone who would wish to practice a ministry in Spiritual Direction. Leech saw no point in spirituality for its own sake. His writings were grounded in his 1960s work homeless young people (he helped found Centrepoint) and continued from his ministry among the peoples and parishes of East London.

Spiritual Direction similarly should not be considered in the same category as foot-massaging for the spa-attending rich. It is in fact the way in which I believe churches should see themselves. They are gatherings of people seeking spiritual direction. As that they can become communities of prayer and prophecy. For Christian action arises from a relationship with God. Prophecy is created at the altar of devotion to the true God.

So why would a Baptist find so much that was important in his writing? First, he explored a relationship with God in the context of the issues and questions that society was facing. Second, I arrived in my first pastorate in the 1970s where I constantly faced such issues ill-prepared by my theological background and could find little to help me in the evangelical stream of that time.

Finally, and most importantly, it turned me back to the power of prayer and the need to find a way of communicating the Faith that would be understood beyond the Sunday congregation.

Orthodox. Inspirational. Grounded. Erudite. May he rest in peace and his like be heard again until the Kingdom come.

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