Friday, February 20, 2009

Church as Santuary...

Abbot Christopher Jamison of BBC Monastary fame, was everything I had imagined. He spoke with a quiet and unassuming authority about how and why the church needs to move from being 'locked up' to being 'open as sanctuary' for a society that needs a break. Pointing to the Night Church in Copenhagen he illustrated the power of contemplation within evangelism and without saying that one supersedes the other he illustrated the difference and relationship of 'evangelism as silence' and 'evangelism as amplification'.
The time flew by as we listened to this gracious man invest of himself into us. His point is that church has much to offer in the way of silence, virtue and grace

No video clips, buzz groups, role play, modelling, art - this was simply someone articulating with intelligence and amazing insight a real depth of character and experience. The time flew by as we listened to this gracious man invest of himself into us. His point was that church has much to offer through the way of silence, virtue and grace to a tired self-absorbed society needing to slow down from reaping the dis-benefits of rampant consumerism. The alternative way of sanctuary showing what grace centred humanity can be.

If our churches are to be places of sanctuary he got us to think about how we can create that holy space for those who need to rediscover church as spacious and holy. Where people can escape noise and sound to discover their contemplative need? He got us to think how church could maximise its place in our community as a resource, where people have time to listen to what matters in themselves and in others?

If our churches are to be places of sanctuary he got us to think about how we can develop our understanding of virtue as foundational to our definition of integrity. Not surprisingly for an Benedictine Abbot of Worth Abbey he suggests that our churches need to impact their communities with a redemptive and restoratative framework for human rights based on:
  • Fortitude (firmness of spirit, steadiness of will in doing good)
  • Justice (determination to give everyone their rightful due)
  • Temperance (restraint of inordinate movements of desires)
  • Prudence (the correct knowledge of things to be done or avoided)
If our churches are to be places of sanctuary he got us to think about how we all this needs to be wrapped up in the reality of Grace - Churches need to be authentic grace full sanctuaries. Quoting Augustine - 'if we believe we can make ourselves better we are better than God' - his point was really that all he said had to stem from a realism that recognises we are only who we are by grace.

Utterly convinced that consumer church is not meeting a very real need for sanctuary, Jamison pointed to the many opportunities for re-alignment of people through greater stillness. This he believes has every chance of leading to the embrace of 'good life' which then by grace leads to awareness of God.

If our churches are to be places of sanctuary he got me to think that it stems from a fullness of life that makes us spacious towards others others. For churches to be places of sanctuary perhaps we need to be aware that it starts with and through us.

2 comments:

IanH said...

Hi Gordo - have you given any thought to one of the paradoxes of rediscovering the ancient ways? Has anyone asked why we keep losing our way?

There is a phenomenum called the Hawthorne Effect which was discovered in a study of the affect on productivity in a factory under different levels of light. They discovered that as light levels increased so did productivity. Then they discovered that when light levels were reduced productivity increased again! The conclusion was that any Change made the difference.

Do you think that there is a spiritual equivalent to the Hawthorne Effect? Are we rediscovering anything? Or do we develop spiritually by doing something/anything because we need to cry out to God for it?

Gordon said...

Interesting...

I guess we are not rediscovering anything but perhaps what we do is sift through layers of interpretation with regatds to what Jesus meant when he said that he came to give us life!!

What hasn't changed I suspect is that we develop in one form or another. In that certain things develop that help and then they lose their helpfulness, I wonder if it is a case of working out what it is to reflect on how to position ourselves to develop.

I think that is enough fogging for now :)