(live blogged so excuse the errors)
So 'open' according to Andy Bowsher, when we are speaking about spirituality means that we are open to other influences - all Christian, I hasten to add. 'Different strokes for different folks,' he explains. Charismatic and evangelical and so we encompass those things. We will look at desert spirituality and celtic spirituality etc so that we can all grow.
At 9.10 on a Wednesday we have what is called 'Spirituality', followed by quiet time - where we are silent for an hour. We can use this time to reflect on what has happened. Our ordination retreats will also be in silence and learning to do this corporately is a skill. If this does not come easily, we are able to quietly be creative and do arty things as we are silent. At 11.10 we can then unpack the morning's experiences of the silence and what we have learned. We cater for the extroverts and the introverts! Chat and debate what you have learnt. We also have 'quiet days' in our fellowship groups which is where, with our closest prayer group, we go on retreat.
What is 'Spirituality'? According to Andy Bowsher of Nouslife blog, a way to think about it, is to put spirituality at the centre and then think about the the person who we are before God and in community before God - who are we? Who are we before God? Who are we elsewhere? Part of it is about our cultural fashioning - we are conditioned by our workplaces and our ideologies and our communities. We are thinking about our cultural development; the concerns of different times and cultures. We look at this and different places in the world and the shape of their spirituality so that we don't become insular. What do we think about God's action or even apparent inaction in the world, what does this mean for our theology?
If we become convinced by one strand of theology, how does this affect our relationship with God?
Liturgy and the way that we do stuff, our habits and our routines, we explore this. Quiet time is a regular devotional practice for evangelicals. We will explore seasons and the liturgical calender. How do we develop a spirituality against a consumerist advent backdrop? How does corporate worship relate to how we meet with God?
All of these thjngs overlap and they will continue to form and develop and change.
David Runcorn explains to us what happens when are going through times of change and transition.
Apprehension, excitement, joy, sorrow, fear, curiosity, resistance, denial, gratitude, hope, confusion, frustration, peace - all of this is felt. All of these words actually reflect feelings of transition. Change involves our outer landscape. Home, region, networks can all change.
Transition is about our inscape - what has to adapt within us to cope with the changes in the 'landscape'? It is emotional, spiritual, physical, psychological, relational and theological. God understands this and his grace and gifts will not be held back , they just might not be what we expect.
Institutions tend to be better at change than 'transition'. All change needs nurture to make it effective. The living through of it and the journey is far more important than the destination, only our final destination is guaranteed! In the journey of transition the word takes flesh! If we are engaging in clever theology, never forget it is the stuff of the heart that matters not that one precludes the other.
Three phases of transition
The space between
Abraham and Sarah set out not knowing where they were going and pitched their tent where they arrived, living as strangers in the land of promise,' Hebs 11:8-9
These people in settled lives uproot and become nomads. We are traveling for the foreseeable future. Jesus said that the son of man has nowhere to lay his head. The journey is the wilderness, the space in between, if we do not know where we are going, how do we know when we have arrived? A whole new world has to entered into. But we journey into in with the mutual support of a community and meet with Christ's grace. Our settled spaces have been stirring perhaps for decades but now it is happening and yet we have not arrived.
Closure is painful at times. How significant our roots can be. We need to complete these affirmational 'yeses'. What has come to end? We have had to let go of things, good things, there is never a clear and easy separation. Do we need to mark, mourn or bless these endings? Other people are part of our transitions. We need to consider how they feel about their significant other's transition. We need to protect our marriages and yet also explore other ways that we can relate to each other from within those relationships.
Tom Stoppard's 'Arcadia' explores the beautiful garden with its imposing pattern order on God's creation.
The protagonist says:
'It makes me so happy....the future is disorded...it's the best possible time to be alive when almost everything you knew is wrong!'
He is very much at odds, thinking these thoughts with the order of the garden which is also the focus of the work.
This place: the wilderness is an ambivalent place. Do not go for the quick fix - the Bible tells us that this is an important place. It took one day for Israel to leave Egypt but forty years for the desert to leave Israel.
Sometimes during transition, we feel as though we might be losing our lives to find them, this is the experience of Jesus. It takes great trust, there will be a finding, of that you can be assurred!
The core of desert living is hospitality, we welcome new ideas and the theology of others. In Christ we wait for one another and we welcome one another.
Normalise this experience for God knows all about it. We are encouraged to think about who else is travelling with us?
A B of C
'You are here because God wants you to be here ...be thankful...it has made the reality of God's witness complete for you...it lovingly conveys God's call.'