Lately I’ve become re-interested in chiastic structure. If you’re a weird one who likes this kind of ostensibly heady thing, try your hand at picking out the paired relationships in this prayer I composed and led in 2005. (Which is easier for me to say to thee? “Rise, energize thy mind, and reason,” or “Sit back, relax, and lettest thou me figure out how to format this so it’s instantly clear?”)
Now, Father, we come.
We come, in the stillness of this time, to do something You asked us to do often.
We come, according to the desire of Jesus, and because we believe He forever opened the door (and left it open!), for us to commune.
We Westview Christians come not to “take communion,” as though it were a thing … a possession being offered and accepted in some sort of material transaction.
We come not even to “communion,” as though it were an event more than a familial union of spirits.
We come to commune with You, YHVH the gracious Father,
and with You, Jesus the Son.
We are needy and ready to experience Your grace …
to share in Your Nature …
with our whole selves
in the most stupendous of Your provisions:
Jesus, our Emmanuel,
the grace-gift of the Father.
We come to not to an event,
Or to some magical, grace-giving transaction, but to commune with You—
and with all these who call You “Father.”
We come in the name of Jesus.
We come, on this October morning, still now in Your presence, as You desire.
We approach You in spirit, Father God.
Now why would a stupid human go and compose a modern English prayer in chiastic form that emulates some Hebrew and Greek structure? In no way do I present my prayer as inspired, but I was working with chiasms at the time and enjoyed the mental/spiritual challenge of penning thoughts in that form. I thought that maybe, just maybe, there could be value in such a structure. Maybe this form isn’t so specially situated in ancient cultures, after all, and maybe human minds and hearts could lock in to the utterings in a fresh way.
Musicians out there: ever heard of ABA form or Arch Form? Sonata form (a/k/a “first-movement form”) is also directly related here. These are common ways to make musical sense so that people “get it” when they hear it.
Dramatists: common dramatic forms exist in three or five acts, with the conclusion tying up loose ends and bring things full circle. You know, as in Seinfeld episodes. 🙂
Seems to me that this kind of structure of thought is more ubiquitous and useful than I once thought. That chiasms and sandwich structures or triptychs appear in Mark’s gospel shouldn’t surprise me.