Going away to learn... looking through lenses

My deacon year has ended but deaconing never finishes and rightly so...priestly formation begins and people ask me how it feels. The only metaphor I have really been comfortable with over the course of my calling has been one about labouring, something to which I think Paul alludes in part when he describes our groaning, or even the groaning of the entire cosmos as we wait...

With each stage of the journey I feel a little more born into becoming the person that I am supposed to be.

What has come jarring and aching has been the realisation as to how just how unformed I actually am and how ill-prepared I was by theological training to face the call of a real, coal-face ministry. My training was too academic and that was not the fault of the training institution but my own selection of modules along the way.

I now learn better how to translate all of that into a language with which people can identify, how to inject more of me and my take on things into the mix and how much of the gospel must be lived out in action, must take place behind and upholding the choices I make, how much must be left to be unwrapped later should anyone wish to peel away more layers.

Unsettling but calling me on is seeing the image of Jesus that is reflected back to me as I meet people stepping out on the journey through all that Parish life brings.

There are so many versions in the kaleidoscope of varying shades of belief.

Jesus is two dimensional, moral master, less freedom-maker and more guilt-inducer, provoking in many the response ...but I am a good person and I want his morals for my children. Church I am not convinced about.

For some, the glass is dusty and the image in sepia: he is mysterious, church-birthed, cloaked in mystery by those who wear strange gowns, someone for the naive and out-of-touch, not really relevant but conjured in response to neediness, he is an alker-seltzer for the upsets in life.

Occasionally, I look into the glass with someone and we see the same face, one that spreads so expansively and with such depth that three-dimensions are insufficient and there's the knowing and the not knowing, held in tension, but within relationship. Of course, we all look through different lenses and all lenses contain distortion, which is why working Jesus out has to be done in community and why the deepest sighs are perhaps for those who say that they do not need to be church to be Christians.

I guess part of the formation is in preparing oneself to sit in the hall of mirrors, allowing for the nausea and the revelation. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I meditate on a paper from 1945 (1945 report Towards the Conversion of England) in community, at the Second, Evangelical, Anglican, Clergy Conference. It will come at a time when I am reading less about doctrine and evangelism and more about the Jewish Jesus, as I devour the very readable  'Sitting at the feet of Rabbi Jesus' and 'Walking in the dust of Rabbi Jesus' by Tvoberg. I wonder if the lens before which I am preparing to sit myself will deliver a Jesus I recognise and with whom I can converse. What I think it will do is get me blogging again. :-D

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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions