Archive for the ‘disciple of Jesus’ Category

the return

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

She hadn’t visited them for some time, but she knew she would get a warm reception. This was her family away from home, a group of men and women, mostly elderly, who had loved her and nurtured her a few years ago when she was far from home.

She walked in just as the clock struck 10.30. It meant she was the last to arrive – and no sneaking in at the back. Faces turned and smiles formed as she scuttled to her seat. It was good to be home in the little Methodist chapel.

Fellowship was more than a warm cuppa and a biscuit here, it was a sharing of lives. After the service she spoke to as many as she could, recalling their names and asking after those who were not there.  This was an elderly congregation, but one that was young at heart. She’d found real love in that place, and learned from them how to extend love to others.  But it was good to be back, and be a recipient again, loved for who she was and not what she did.

laying stones on the journey

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

We sat in a circle, on a mis-match of chairs, some more comfortable than others. We faced one another to celebrate a journey shared. Some of us had been part of the band of wayfarers longer than others, but all had reached this point – a resting point in the adventure.

Tonight was a time of laying down a stone, a marker to help us remember.

A little more than a year earlier, I had done something similar. Walking along the deserted beach on the north east shores of Lindisfarne, I deliberated, selected and pocketed a collection of stones of different colours, all smoothed by the power of the tide, and all flat. Prayerfully I constructed a small cairn. As I built I remembered and was thankful.

That act of worship was personal, private and sacred.  Today was communal. Each person’s (figurative) stone was placed on top of that laid down by another; together they made a whole. Together we paused on the journey and took stock with thankful hearts; tomorrow a new leg of the adventure begins.

limping

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

One of the beautiful things about having an relationship with Jesus is that it affects our everyday life.

I love how Roy Godwin from Ffald-y-Brenin talks about integration of prayer and mission, worship and blessing.
It starts with asking

  • Who are you Father putting in front of me to whom I can show acts of mercy?
  • with whom I can share the Goodnews?

When we learn to see God at work in our midst, see the opportunities He places before us, recognise the nudges, these questions will become more intuitive, under-the-skin routine, a holy habit.

Most of us, I think, struggle with dualism. We are very tempted to separate the holy from the profane, the Sunday worship slot from the Monday-Saturday life. Following a way of life can help us make a Way of Life a 24/7 walk with God, where holy habits come out of that lovely relationship with have with Father Son and Spirit.

Roy uses this wonderfully powerful image when talking about holistic living and being a blessing to others.

 

If there is a disconnect between our spirituality and our missional living we are – as Roy puts it- walking with a limp.

I really like that image don’t you?
After all Jesus came to help the lame walk didn’t He?

Key questions to help us being more integrated – fully alive – people, might include asking God

  • Lord, have I become deaf/blind to what you are doing?
  • Am I missing an opportunity?
  • And the prayer … Will you make me more sensitive?

Using a tool like Inspire can help us become more integrated followers of Jesus – can help us throw off the shackles of dualism- so that we can begin to walk with a spring in our step. By reflecting on questions such as these, together with 2-3 others who help us discern and respond, we can learn to hear and see what God is doing in our midst, we can discern the opportunities in front of us, we can become more sensitive to the impulses of the Spirit . We can be Good News.

The interview with Roy on Engaging Mission and Being a Blessing will soon be available through the Inspire website. But if you want a sneaky preview it’s here too!

The other side of you

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

I re-read Sally Vickers’ The Other Side of You this week. It’s a pretty thought provoking book.

Without giving any spoilers (I hope) Vickers’ uses Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus to unfold part of the story. If you aren’t familiar with the painting you can see it here

I like what she writes here (after quoting the account in Luke’s Gospel)

What else would they be of, the communications, as the two men made their way together on the dusty road, but the affair that had left them so heavy-hearted? They were sad, because they believed they had lost the person they loved …. They had lost their heart’s treasure, and as they walked, it was natural that they should talk of this grevious loss. Except that most of us don’t. Most of us haven’t the knack of opening our hearts to another without reserve.

That thought impacted me. Why is it that we do no open our hearts to one another – particular those we have journeyed long and hard with. What holds us back? What makes us so indivualistic?

I’m working for a discipleship movement called Inspire. The heart of which is helping shape the everyday lives of ordinary Christians. The chief tool is learning to reflect on our own lives and sharing that with 2-3 others in order to receive spiritual direction and to be held accountable for the choices we made. It’s a place of real vulnerability and yes very counter cultural. As Sally Vickers says ‘ most of us haven’t the knack of opening our hearts to one another. But we can learn.

just what is mission?

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

how long is a piece of string? :)

JR Woodwood writes about the five marks of mission.

THE FIVE MARKS OF MISSION
1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
2. To teach, baptise, and nurture new believers
3. To respond to human need by loving service
4. To seek to transform unjust structures of society
5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth?

 

Apparently these five marks, while not a complete definition of mission, do  have  “potential and they do form a good working basis for a holistic approach to mission.”

What do you think?

 

smörgåsbord

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Continuing on from a previous post entitled ‘full potential’

Fellowship with other believers in a variety of contexts was crucial for Wesley, and should be today. It is only when we engage in genuine and meaningful relationships that we grow towards our full potential.

LeClerc & Maddix Spiritual Formation: A Wesleyan Paradigm

 

Fellowship is an odd word. No doubt about that. But what to make of the ‘variety of contexts’? Wesley is famous for having taught on the dangers of lone Christianity . Other Wesleyan theologians – including Kevin Watson over at Vital Piety – have written about this, but suffice to say that when Wesley spoke of social holiness he was not talking about social action (or works of piety) but rather stating that there really is no such thing as lone-Christianity.

Solitary religion is not to be found there (in the gospel of Christ). ‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness.

My mentor Phil Meadows often goes on to say that there are always people who at this stage will begin to talk about ‘desert island scenarios’ … but that it’s much more likely that God will send that helicopter or boat to get you off said island, what Wesley meant was that it takes a Christian being in relationship with other Christians for us to work out our own discipleship. That’s really important for me – and one of the main reasons I’m involved in the Inspire network.

But coming back to the variety of contexts for Christian fellowship with other believers- I find myself wondering what they are. Does it include church attendance (as in Sunday morning worship) Is that fellowship  – and if so with whom? Is it (in the American Context) (Adult) Sunday School that preceeds worship?  Or is it another kind of worship experience altogether? Is it the Midweek Bible study or prayer group? Or the gathering of the Mission action group? Or the street pastors on a Saturday night?  Do each of these – this variety of contexts for Christian fellowship – bring something? Do we need all? Can we remove one from our diet – and if so how will that affect our discipleship?

Wesley (according to LeClerc and Maddix) thought that having a smörgåsbord of Christian fellowship was vital for the well-being of Christians. In addition to coming to hear the field preaching, Wesley instructed those being revived to get themselves into a society as well as back into the Anglican Church on a Sunday morning to partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion.   If it was vital in Wesley’s day – how much more so today, when we are – in comparison – at least as equally malnourished spiritually speaking as those in C18th England.

 

 

dismissal v commissioning

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Go forth into the world in peace

 

At the English speaking Lutheran Service at the Cathedral (Note NO SERVICES IN JULY) the minister often finishes with this prayer.

 

Go forth into the world in peace
be of good courage
hold fast that which is good
render to no one evil for evil
strengthen the fainthearted
support the weak
help the afflicted
honour everyone
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

stuff

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Did you know  that a report from 2005 stated “Aussies have admitted to spending over $10 billion every year on goods we do not use: clothes and shoes we never wear, CDs we never listen to, DVDs we never watch and food we never eat and each year in Australia nearly 20 million tonnes of waste goes to landfill. By way of comparison, this amount exceeds spending by Australian governments on universities and roads.”

I wonder what those figures might be in your neck of the woods?

 

I’ve been challenged by the idea of considerate consumerism :  not to buy anything new for 12 months.

Exceptions to this include underwear, food and health and safety items such as toilet paper. All clothing, furniture and other items need to be bought second hand, bartered or borrowed. However, services such as movies, theatre, haircuts, massages and music downloads cab be bought. These are experiences.

I started to try to put the ideas of considerate consumerism into perspective.

During the last two years I’ve been ‘temporarily living’ in the UK I’ve had a miniscule budget. That’s meant out of necessity I’ve bought  my clothes (if not all, then almost all) from charity shops. Bedlinen etc has been loaned from friends etc. I’ve used other people’s pots, pans, cutlery and crockery.. (The one set of pans I did buy I gave to a friend who needed them – or at least the lids! – more than I did).  I’ve shared meals where I can. Loaned tools when I’ve needed to. Most of my books (but not all) have come from the secondhand marketplace (if not in the library) or as gifts. And I am involved in bookcrossing.com (though less than I used to be) I don’t buy newspapers or magazines. My bicycle was assembled from spare parts and given as a gift – and while used a bit less than I’d have liked (due to the cold wet spring) I’ve loved the freedom it’s brought.  When I needed to buy a new suitcase – a friend gave me hers  – and even the gifts for this summer’s weddings (as well as the outfits!) have come from charity shops – though I have bought new gifts for different people on different occasions as well.

Most of my spending in the UK (other than accommodation, associated bills and food) is on train fares.  Because spending time with friends matters to me!  My biggest expense this year was a new laptop. A necessity for my work, but also for my way of life. My old laptop was more than four years old and was genuinely on its last legs- sounding a cross between a AWOL lawnmower and a helicopter coming into land. Another expense was a new camera – the old one died, and for me living without a camera is to live less than a full life. So I replaced it. But I have bought new things like mudguards for my bike, a torch (flashlight) and nail scissors. I couldn’t imagine buying nothing new at all.

My regular ‘experiences’ include going swimming at least once a week.  The best experiences for me are usually times with people – chatting late into the night with a cup of hot water (and a hot water bottle) or over a meal or coffee, tramping in the woods etc. I do enjoy the occasional meal out -never alone. What would be the point of that?  I’ve been to the theatre once in nine months (and it was fabulous!), and the cinema three times (twice to see Les Miserables!) and loved every moment of that as well. I’ve visited libraries, museums and an art gallery, as well as the local museum which was really interesting! All are free in the UK – which is wonderful. (You can make a donation and I try to do that too)

All in all – when in the UK – it’s hard to see how I could consume more considerately. And I’m not sure I really could buy nothing new for a year. mmm

A bigger challenge is whether I can change my consumer habits here in Finland? Again I buy very little in the way of new clothing. And hubby even less! My bike is great – and it’s 20 years old, and still without rust as I only use it in the summer and keep it locked in the shed at night. Hubby’s is a bit newer -by a few years – but he uses his everyday. We buy very little for the house – the dogs’ needs excluded – this year a new re-chargeable power chainsaw for us and Father-in-Law (we share it), and last year a new lawnmower. The old one broke after 20 years. We live economically – and like it that way.

So why then am I writing all this?  I guess because I am challenged to do more, buy less, or buy with more intentionality.

The Communitycompact facebook page puts it like this …

A few people have been asking if there’s any flexibility to the ‘buy nothing new’ challenge.

We would like to think all people could ‘have a go’ at making a difference in the way they shop, so we are suggesting members of the group commit to one of three ‘levels’:
1. Choose one aspect/product to commit to not buying new, e.g. clothes, toys;
2. Buy only things that are environmentally friendly, fair trade and/or ethical;
3. Buy nothing new at all (apart from the compacting exceptions of food & essentials). This is what the organisers are doing, and what we would like everyone to try, but please don’t be put off if you feel that’s just too hard! Just do something!

I’d like to do a bit more – not for the sake of it, not just to see if I can (though that’s probably part of it!).
As a Christian I’d like what I do to make a  wider difference. I’d like the money I save  to be used for the Kingdom. (Sometimes I feel a bit like Judas with his indignation that the perfumed oil was poured out when it could have been sold for the poor … so I know I need God to work on me in this too)

…  And another thing I’d like is that the products I do choose to use would do less damage to the environment or to other human beings.  I believe in fair trade, though I don’t practice it very well. Like so many others I choose fairtrade tea and sugar (but not coffee as I haven’t found a source for good fairtrade filter coffee yet), and bananas and occasionally nuts, but today I’m wondering what if – what if /when I succumb to buying chocolate, or wine – luxury items -  what if I made fair trade my preference there? That’s worth trying for a year isn’t it? I could do that.

(Of course as soon as I was proofreading this post hubby shouted from downstairs that the loaf of bread he made might well be the last as the bread machine had overheated and he thought it was broken! It wasn’t – and it’s ok now. Phew!)

full potential

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Fellowship with other believers in a variety of contexts was crucial for Wesley, and should be today. It is only when we engage in genuine and meaningful relationships that we grow towards our full potential.

LeClerc & Maddix Spiritual Formation: A Wesleyan Paradigm

 

Fellowship. It’s an odd word isn’t it? That’s because we make it to be so much less than it really is. A soggy biscuit-or even a wonderfully crisp chocolate covered one! – and a cup of coffee (instant or the best Italian roast you can image) do not make fellowship.

So what is it then?

fel·low·ship

/?fel??SHip/
Noun
1. Friendly association, esp. with people who share one’s interests.
2. A group of people meeting to pursue a shared interest or aim
These definitions aren’t what I understand fellowship to mean. Not really. They leave me high and dry.
Synonyms offered include companionship – friendship – comradeship – association. They are equally unsatisfactory.

When we talk of fellowship with other believers – what do we then mean? What do I understand by it? What do I long for?
Sometimes – just sometimes – NT Greek throws me a lifeline. Fellowship = koinonia = community, communion, joint participation, sharing and intimacy.  For me that kind of fellowship is relationship which nurtures and brings life.

Wesley valued (according to LeClerc and Maddix) fellowship with other believers in a variety of contexts.
The next few posts will look at what that means for me, right here – right now. Don’t expect exegesis -more of a stream of consciousness- or some spaghetti brain thinking outloud!

dis-eased hearts to transformed hearts

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

It’s ironic that my last (previous) post was about stablity – a reflection on what it might mean to ‘therefore stay’ rather than ‘go’ … and since then I’ve been on the move! God has a sense of humour :)

Inspire led a retreat on inside-out discipleship down in Kent last Saturday, a time of getting our hearts rid of the dis-ease we all feel sometimes, and a time of being put together again, so that our hearts can sing, and we can dance to the unseen unforced rhythm of God’s grace to us.

This regional retreat will be held in Bolton later in May and again in September down in Devon. If you are interested you can find out more here