Sunday, 17 January 2016

We have not been this way before...

1 Corinthians 2:9-10
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” 

― Rainer Maria Rilke

As the Path of Renewal Pilot Project gets underway, it seems like we're having to wind everything back. To navigate a course for which no map has been drawn and to discover, not answers, but the questions that we should be asking. That demands a huge adjustment for folk used to initiating and driving. Our default mode is to get things up and running, to step out hoping that others will follow in our wake.
But being involved in the Mission of God, requires, above all, discernment. The kind of discernment that involves stepping back, listening carefully and waiting. Not an easy place to be, not a comfortable environment from which to invite others to join us.
Once again, we find inspiration, community and encouragement in stories.
Stories of the people of God throughout the ages who embarked on journeys to destinations they could only dream about along paths they had yet to discover. 
Stories of the unlikely companions Jesus invited to accompany him on a journey and the surprising encounters they had on the way.
And stories of our communities, places where we see God already at work and the excitement of discerning God's spirit in people and in places we could never have imagined.
The story is still being written, questions still being formed as the Spirit weaves a new narrative, forging an intricate pattern of mystery and intrigue, of daring and invitation, a call to lay down our sat navs so that we can be diverted from our pre conceived notions into a whole new realm of possibility.
We have not been this way before so we make space to listen to the voice of God's spirit who greets us in stillness and sits with us awhile until we have gleaned the first steps of the new path and, above all, have tuned in to the slow work of love and of grace, markers for journey ahead.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Light on the path

Ezra 3:10-13

When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel;
and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,
“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 
But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.

Having set myself the challenge to blog the Narrative Lectionary as a spiritual discipline during Advent, I encountered passages of Scripture not normally associated with that Liturgical season, appreciating the new perspective that they brought to familiar themes.
These verses in Ezra also struck a chord for Path of Renewal.
Although, on the whole, there is excitement about the potential for the Pilot, as time wears on, it is anticipated that both those reactions modelled by the priests and the people - shouts of joy, enthusiastic response, alongside a longing for the old days, when attractional church seemed to work, are bound to emerge.
There is lots of positivity and encouragement, goodwill and  momentum around the Path of Renewal just now, but what about when the first hurdles are encountered?
Without totally destroying the mood of optimism that is present, what about when the going gets a bit more difficult?
The voices of those who long for the old ways that are subdued for now won't always be hushed. Tthe cynics will be waiting in the wings.
And, often, we take more notice of critics than advocates.
So our grounding, our faith, our ability to return to the reasons we have been motivated for and called to this project will need revisiting frequently.
When it becomes difficult to distinguish the weeping from the shouts for joy, may we discern a path of renewal that builds on all that was good while forging a way forward alongside God.
Journeying with Scripture, be it those familiar and well loved passages or words revealed in a new light will be an important discipline along the way.