Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rohr on grace...

"Life, when lived fully, tends to tool and retool us until we eventually discover a mercy that fills all the gaps necessary for our very survival and sanity. Without grace, everything human declines and devolves into smallness, hurt, and blame."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lost Themes of Mission ... Community

It has been sometime since I have thought about 'lost themes of mission' but today's daily dose of Nouwen got me thinking about what constitutes developing 'true community'. 

"There are many forms of poverty:  economic poverty, physical poverty, emotional poverty, mental poverty, and spiritual poverty.  As long as we relate primarily to each other's wealth, health, stability, intelligence, and soul strength, we cannot develop true community.  Community is not a talent show in which we dazzle the world with our combined gifts.  Community is the place where our poverty is acknowledged and accepted, not as something we have to learn to cope with as best as we can but as a true source of new life.

Living community in whatever form - family, parish, twelve-step program, or intentional community - challenges us to come together at the place of our poverty,  believing that there we can reveal our richness."

Nouwen's words made me think how easy it is for us as church to engage with our communities from a position of smug superiority. Where the attribute of 'true community' is fragmented by a need to dazzle each other with exactly how missional we are, sharing our 'expertise and experience' in a way that we legitimise by calling it sharing good news, or if we were Tesco's managers, knowledge management.  In other words perhaps spin driven by the kind of positioning that Nouwen describes as 'wealth, health, stability, intelligence, and soul strength'.

It would seem to me that learning to truely engage with our communities would need a shift in alignment from 'having all the answers and aren't you lucky to have us in the neighbourhood' to understanding mission from a christological position of vulnerability and poverty. I'm not sure what this means, but I do know that such a position leaves no room for 'dazzling talent shows', I do know that it positions a church in a way that authenticity and openness of intent is clear to see and I do know that that vulnerability leads us to places where glib answers and cliches are better replaced with a simple 'I don't know, but let's learn together'. 

I could be wrong but I reckon Nouwen's thoughts about developing true community stand as a challenge to how we relate not only to each other but equally as churches to our neighbourhoods. So I add community to my list of lost themes. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Touching the Holy.... 2/5

"Personal awareness of self before a loving God is also important because it helps self confidence to grow and be more resistant to the assaults of failure or rebuff. Thus, it allows our character to develop and it enables the presence of God with in us to be felt in a good way by others. It is not that we forget or deny our faults; rather, we are better able to put them into perspective instead of being crushed by them."25

Wicks's then outlines a helpful checklist that he calls , 'principles of self-respect and clarity': 

1. When I have made a mistake or feel anxious, I need to separate what I have done from who I am. 
2. When I feel badly about myself as a person, I must see if I am embracing an irrational belief about myself. I need to take a distressful  feeling as an opportunity to uncover style of thinking and believing that undermines my self-respect or desire to understand and correct my behaviour. ... 76 


Saturday, March 08, 2014

Celebrating the great variety in being human...

Some amazing conversations sat drinking coffee this weekend @suttonsachurch, one of which that rumbled on for two days! with a break in between mind! One in particular centred on some of the negative impressions of Christianity, not least the appearance of judgementalism that seems to be the experience of many. This particular woman made pertinent point after pertinent point as to her observations, really all could offer was an apology! 

Nouwen's daily email had a lesson for us all today ...

"Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at "those other persons" as equally loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in being human is an expression of the immense richness of God's heart.  Then the need to prejudge people can gradually disappear."

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Touching the holy.... 1/5

Every now and then I read one of those books that I worry I might forget bits that made an impression upon me. These books represent more than mere opinion, clever talk they represents something that speaks deep within. Robert Wick's 'Touching the holy : ordinariness, self-esteem, and friendship' is one such book. I want to capture some of its comfort and challenge so will park some quotes and thoughts here over the next couple of weeks...

Here are two quotes to set the scene.

Due to our lack of complete trust in God's revelation that we are made in the divine image and likeness, most of us get caught up in trying to be extra ordinary. We become insecure and are tempted to rest our sense of self on something less than God's love for us. As a result we waste our energy worrying about whether we are liked, respected, effective, or as good as other people. 15

If only we would properly attend to God's gifts to us and in us! Then self awareness and healthy self love could form a positive circle of spiritual self-esteem and ultimately be a source of strength for others as well as ourselves. Will we have the trust to do this? Will we take the time? 25

Wicks, R. (1992) Touching the holy : ordinariness, self-esteem, and friendship