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I still haven't found what I'm looking for

To develop the understanding that the spiritual life is an ongoing journey rather than a destination.

by Paul Hess

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To develop the understanding that the spiritual life is an ongoing journey rather than a destination.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to play U2's song 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for' (from The Joshua Tree or U2: The Best of 1980–1990)
  • If possible, display the quote from the song as below.

Assembly

  1. Play the first 2mins 50secs of 'I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For'. (This can be done as pupils enter, to save time, but you may find they will listen more attentively – and that therefore it will have a greater impact – if you wait until they have settled down.)
  2. Quote from the song:

    I believe in the kingdom come
    When all the colours will bleed into one
    But yes I’m still running.
    You broke the bonds,
    You loosed the chains,
    You carried my cross and my shame
    You know I believe it
    But I still haven't found what I'm looking for …
  3. This song from the album The Joshua Tree is a great example of U2's ability to articulate the great spiritual concerns of their generation. Hauntingly beautiful, it carries with it a certain solemnity. It is song which expresses the great tension of human existence – that our very nature compels us to seek but yet we cannot find here on earth.
  4. This is not to say that it is a song of disillusionment or cynicism, or about our inability to make a commitment. On the contrary, this is a song of faith (you loosed the chains, you carried my cross, you know I believe it – these are words of Christian conviction). U2 are in fact declaring our utter dependence on faith.
  5. Yet here’s the thing: this is the point which U2 are telling us about faith: faith is not a destination, but a journey. When I look at 7 July 2005, or the Middle East, or the inhumane poverty in much of our world, I certainly can’t say that I have found what I am looking for. When I look at the Church – too often divided and ineffective – I can’t always say I have found what I am looking for. When I look at my own life – with its sin and contradictions – I would be arrogant to proclaim that I have found what I am looking for.
  6. Faith does not proclaim that we have found what we are looking for – instead it forces us to embark on and continue the spiritual journey. In the Old Testament, right from the time of its Great Father, Abraham, Israel is portrayed as pilgrim people. Moses continues the journey from Egypt through the Wilderness. It is not an easy road, it is a journey filled with obstacles and difficulties – but it is infused with the hope and expectation of the Promised Land.
  7. Faith illuminates our lives – but that doesn’t mean it offers simplistic answers to life’s problems. Instead, faith invites us to join in a journey, to become part of the great Human Quest. Faith demands that we do not become complacent or acquiesce to the world as it is, but to strive to make it what it should be. Like Abraham and Moses, like U2, we must seek to become the people we are truly called to be, we must keep on searching for what we are looking for …

Time for reflection

Reading:
In the letter to Philippians, St Paul outlines his own spiritual journey – and then goes on to explain that he has not yet arrived. The words of Paul you are about to hear could be paraphrased : 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for.'

‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’
Philippians 3.12–14

Prayer:

Be with us, Lord, on the journey of life
and help us ever to seek after Truth and Righteousness.

Amen.

Song

'Kum ba yah' (Come and Praise, 68)

Publication date: November 2006   (Vol.8 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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