Common Ground Editorial: November 2021

In the past couple of years, I’ve found myself writing prayer poems. Typically unadorned, they stand awkwardly in the corner of the page; but as prayer often is, they’re bold with longing. One of them runs:

O Lord
make me
like a
house left
so you
might just
walk in.

We have come to the doorstep of Advent, the beginning of another year with Jesus our Lord, where the Church’s longing for God’s presence quickens, where we unlock our hearts to receive the astounding news of God’s life among us. God has, we might say, “walked in.” This is the “marvellous exchange” proclaimed by the early Church: that in Christ, God comes to dwell among us, that we might forever live in God.

In last month’s Common Ground, we explored the task of making a home, the goodness of this God-given task and its challenges. But what makes this task missional, what electrifies it with attentiveness, is the knowledge that God makes his home among us. In our feature article this month, André Muller guides us into the path of Advent by calling us to contemplate the Lord, whose greatness is known precisely in the lowly way he draws near to us. God, “who dwells in inaccessible light,” is at once “The Homely, Humble, and Courteous Lord”! Advent astonishment also illuminates this month’s art reflection: Andrew Shamy pulls us away from the pre-Christmas fracas to consider, with sacred artist Arcabas, “the tremendous heart of things.”

This month’s From the Tradition column is by Michelle Young; she relates her discovery of the extraordinary Beguines, Christian communities of single women whose life together was so vividly animated by God’s life in and among them. Olivia Burne is in interview with Rachel Kitchens who reflects with grace and candour on her experiences of home, family, flatting, moving countries, and—through everything—God’s unceasing presence. Lucy Collingwood has the sounds to get you into the season: her playlist offers a hopeful, unhurried aid to Advent anticipation. And finally, we’ve prepared a devotional resource to help churches, small groups, households, and individuals enter into Advent. These beautiful cards will lead you through the four weeks of Advent, culminating in the celebration of Christmas Day. You’ll find a taster of this resource in this month’s Common Ground.


Dr John Dennison,
Editor, Common Ground