- The call. The voice. Input, sequence, process, dynamic, order, way, journey, creativity, transformation. Life is dynamic
- God as presence, process and power. Jesus as the one who shows us how to pay attention to creative processes and use them to generate life for ourselves and for others. The Spirit as the power in the process. It is a process with a purpose, that of generating life.
- The power is made precise and specific in order to deliver practical benefits. Life-affirming, life-enhancing, life-expanding, life-generating benefits across many dimensions at once. All the aspects of ourselves. All our relationships. All layers and networks that make up society. A process that we can learn to replicate and the more and better we do so, the more it seems to become capable of replicating itself in ways which are both miraculous and mundane, often at the same time.
- We are called into life. This is life for ordinary people, for ourselves, for others, for everyone. Life for when life is grim.
- We learn to collaborate with the process to create contentment, peace, even happiness.
- Learning to collaborate with the process is the substance of Christian discipleship. We are breathed into being and called to follow a sounding bell. Jesus teaches us the dynamics, how to play the notes in the right order, how to focus our attention where it needs to be, how to access the power of God, how to cope with the limits of that power. How the power of God is greater than the forces which overwhelm us. How Jesus’ “Way” delivers, gives life, fosters creativity, calls us towards life and light.
Called Into Life
- What are we searching for? Searching for life. More life. Why we challenge limitations, challenge the fall, ask searching questions, relish the life-giving moment.
- What is the life-giving moment? What makes it so? What does it consist of?
- Jesus the life-giver. The one who teaches us to recognise life when we encounter it, to find the bright thread, to choose and learn to choose well, to choose life, not death; and then to live with our choices.
- We have our portion. Is it enough? Perhaps, perhaps not. We can learn contentment, but we can also learn how to expand our horizons, how to create the life we need, the more life we need.
- However, creating life is one thing, hoarding life is another. Hoarding does not help the flow. Stock piling. In one sense, a certain reticence is helpful (becoming a reservoir). In another, it is not. Knowing the difference is vital.
- Instead of hoarding, security lies in creating new life together, in choosing compassion, becoming life-givers, creating life for all. Seeing this as the substance of our discipleship, the work to which we are called.
Called to the Journey
- We are called to a journey, to participate in a process. To immerse ourselves in a total experience that embraces all we are, all our relationships, our whole situation, our context. God is like the lover at our window, wanting to show us that an alternative exists, that we can take a new direction, relate differently to the world around us, understand what we are searching for.
- One way of imagining our aspirations is to see them as “treasure”. Knowing our treasure helps us focus; helps us see life in terms of process, not product; helps us harness the power of our imaginations by imagining our search for our treasure as a quest; helps us identify the factors which prevent us embarking on – or continuing – the quest.
- The quest is one way of imagining the creative process, the “Way”, the practical and spiritual journey. The image of the journey is ancient, bred into us from the origin of our species as a way of stimulating and addressing the challenges of creative change. The journey is who we are, who Jesus is. It is a process which has a particular shape, taking us into the wild land and the labyrinth of our inner being. It requires us to face the loss, grief, absence and anxiety that comes with change and to engage with them with faith and courage. The quest is an imaginative way of expressing an important truth, that the creative life is a way of faith from beginning to end.
- We begin by accepting the shape and nature of the journey; by identifying the questions with which we set out; by recognising that we are called to adventure but that it takes faith to get us moving and keep us moving. It may not be clear what we mean by faith in this context, but the purpose of the journey as a whole is transformation. This change may be large or small, whatever it is, it means we have attained our treasure. To achieve it, we will go to the ends of the earth.
Called to the Hearth of God
- The power of God is earthed in the here and now, like a lightening strike, though sometimes the process happens in slow motion. Slowing down the process further to examine and reflect on it can show us how it happens. One example is Moses. What did he see in the burning bush? What was the significance of this fire in the wild?
- The power of God is earthed in our “here and now”. The promise is for us. For you and for me. It is not enough for us to realise that they are offered to everyone, they are also offered to each one of us, personally. And to everyone else, personally. Both understandings are necessary. If it is only for all, the collective, then the individual may be left disempowered. If we focus solely on the promise to the individual, our vision tends to become limited to those who receive the promise in the same way that we do, or to the business of ensuring everyone receives the promise as we do. This restricts our understanding and love for others and our ability to help them make the promise real for all.
- Before we can feel and deploy that fire in the mind, in the heart, in the midst, we must first feel welcomed, accepted, loved, safe. God provides a Hall of Welcome for all, a place where the hearth is at the centre, God is at home with us and we feel at home with God and with each other. It is a place of safety, where no burdens are laid on us and we feel able to glimpse and reach for our full potential. It is a breathing space, a healing place, a place of rest and renewal, where abundance is given and treasure is shared. It is one form of sacred ground.
- The fire in the centre of the circle is also a useful image for finding the “centre” of ourselves and the strength which glows there. Centering down is one way of describing the process of going within, of returning to the Source of life which is not only amongst us (at the centre of the group), but also within us, in the centre of ourselves. We declutter our stuff and simplify our lives as an outward expression (and means toward) the inward process of distilling the complex truth of our lives into a single simplicity – or perhaps more accurately – a very few simplicities. In doing so, we find the source, uncover the source, return to the source. At the centre, we are finally able to say “yes” to life and live that “yes” with all our strength. We see signs, including those which point the way. We find a transforming flame – the flame that not only cleanses but also fires and inspires. We guard the flame and carry it with us as we follow the way, like hunter-gatherers taking fire with them as they travel. It is this fire which transforms.
Called to transformation
- We are called to life and light, but the treasure can only be attained through a quest, a journey, a process which moves us on, changes our environment and in the process, changes us. We are changed by the process, by walking forward, step by step. We are called to change, formed by change and how we respond to the challenges of change.
- Some changes begin abruptly. We feel thrown out onto the road. But even when we are excited by the change, the experience of it can surprise us. Change comes with a cost and so it is necessary to assess the value of change against the benefits of not changing or changing at another pace or in a different way. It also means that we need time and help to assimilate change and work out how it can be beneficial for us.
- Our ability to respond to the challenges of change in a positive way depends on whether or not we feel resourced for it. Whether we have the right kit or clothing, for example.
- There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.
- Another difficulty is that any process of change involves a considerable amount of waiting. Once a process of change is in play, it is rarely wholly under our control. If anyone else is involved, then it is necessary to negotiate between the pace at which they wish (or are able) to do things and the pace at which we wish to work. It is rare for individual styles to mesh entirely, and even when they do, there are always many external factors which affect the process and yet which we are unable to control.
- So we not only work for renewal but also wait for it. How we wait matters and makes a great difference, not only to our experience of change, but also to the grace which is generated and conveyed along the way and generated and conveyed by the eventual outcome/s. How we change is as important, perhaps even more important in the long run, as whether or not we change and the direction in which we travel.
- Wherever possible, we change toward abundance. It is necessary to keep the vision of abundance in mind throughout the process, because the slightest resistance to change (in ourselves, others, circumstances, events, materials) has an abrading effect. Change can be a process of attrition even when it is exciting and rewarding. Endless change is particularly wearying and calls for processes which incorporate those factors which feed us and facilitate endurance. This includes an understanding of praying through change and embedding change in new life-giving habits and forms and attitudes.
- Jesus was a specialist in transformation and trained his disciples to be specialists in transformation too. The substance of Christian discipleship is the ability to adapt ourselves and to lead others through change in ways that generate and convey the gracious, generous love of God.
Imagining the Journey
- The blank page. Using our imaginations. Imagining the journey. The nature of the journey. The one who points the way. The power to move out, move on. Change as the way to abundance. A journey towards abundance. Christianity as a way to abundance.
- Immersed in the life of God. Created for abundance. Discovering abundance. Abundance is the gift of God; it is not selfish; challenged but not denied by suffering (difficulty is imagining it when we are suffering); need for a vision to be present where we are, in a manner that is relevant to where we are, which helps us imagine abundance available to us where we are, which moves us onto tomorrow, preferably in a way that makes abundance closer.
- Called to abundance. Thanksgiving and abundance. Organising around abundance. False forms of abundance.
- The walker creates the path. Called to go deeper. Travelling light. Staying on course. Going the distance. Achieving the horizon. God with us.
The Company in the Wild
- The company in the wild – the original human group. The company needs to eat. How it does so gives us basic feeding processes, hunting, gathering, farming. Nurturing of resources preceded farming. Large scale farming changed the way of life and made new things possible. Development of settled, urban life, more hierarchical societies in which resources were distributed differently.
- Food is a symbol of life. Humans had advantages as non-specialised feeders, able to adapt to many different environments. Ability to adapt and change was fundamental characteristic of human success. What enabled us to become the dominant species, dominant type of primate and human.
- Nevertheless able to recognise an abundance. Meaning of an abundance – food for now, all, future, security, celebration, glut, gorging, sharing, exchanging.
- The hunt. Meat the first treasure. Honey. Call to the hunt, the quest.
- The cost of meat.
- What the company learn together. Learning methods in the group. Mentoring discipleship, the circle around the hearth, stories and songs.
- The value of the unit – leave no one behind.