Wednesday, 12 September 2012

From the Quiet

Two weeks ago I invited our diocese to take time and pray about the changes we will shortly have to make together. The weekend was brilliantly organised by our Bishop's Chaplain, John Franklin. John invited people to listen rather than speak and, wherever possible, to record the thoughts and images which came to them in the silence. Over the last few days John and I have read the responses, and John has collated them. The following is what our people heard:


We are called to acknowledge God’s greatness and God’s goodness. 

The mission, and its agent, the church, is Christ’s!

We may not know what is going on, but give thanks!  For unless the Lord builds the house, we labour in vain.  We attend to the builder with prayer and trust.

We did not invent the church, so in all humility, we must let go of what we have created that no longer serves the kingdom.

We are utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit; Jesus says, ‘Without me you can do nothing”.

Seek God; though the earth should shake, be still and know God… (Ps 46).

Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight paths for him.

We are called to trust God for what is to be, and listen, discern, and do what is asked of us. 

Be open to prophetic voices, not controlling voices.  

Be bold and give space to our visionaries and prophets to think beyond the obvious.

What is God doing?  What do we have to let go of as it is being torn down, and what do we need to nurture and care for as it is being built up?

We are people, not buildings; called to build up, not prop up; called to dwell in and act in unity.

Our attention to buildings must be matched by concern for our spiritual wellbeing. 
 
Praying and attending to people is more important than worrying about formal traditions and structures.

We are called to actively be pioneers, not survivors; people who respond to these exciting times with excitement.

Look beyond the bones to the army.

Struggle and labour like Paul with Christ’s energy (Col 1:29).  Remember “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Be people who look forward, not back; outward, not inward; think new thoughts and dream new dreams.  

See how much the world has changed in 50 years.  What about us?  God is doing a new thing, do we not perceive it!

Remember God has been here before.  Consider the ‘letters to the churches’ in Revelation, “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” is said seven times. 
And Jeremiah 6:27, 9:7 … God strips, reduces, tests and refines. That’s us!

But we are gospel proclaimers, needing to be ‘out there’ encountering the ‘searching souls’ who are after all the ‘idols’ that our culture provides.

Our gatherings are authentic as centres of welcome and introductions to Jesus.  May they be dynamic, compelling, and fun!

We can change our packaging, and faithful to our heritage, worship in new ways and in new places (homes, outdoors); short of reconsidering church union, we can share buildings and mission with other Christians signaling one voice, one purpose.

What can we be doing collaboratively with, say, the Presbyterians?

We have a rich heritage from the faithful who preceded us, and we are to honour them.

We are called to leave a rich heritage of faithfulness, costly service, and faith.

God’s church will not die if we simplify, and seek him beyond words and statutes.

The church changes, but God is our constant.

God will give listening ears, awareness, wisdom, and courage for how to respond to the present.

Bishop Kelvin is much prayed for.  He is requested to be with us in his gifts as spiritual leader and teacher, not as a meeting man.

Communicate!  Build up the diocesan website. Use photos.  Tell encouraging stories to keep us connected.

It is springtime, revealing that the beautiful old tree will bear no more fruit, but there is abundant life breaking out around it.  We will tend what is growing!

Lord, help us!  And may we accept change with love, tolerance, and daring, and be in you, not about you.

Let’s make any decision rooted in the end for which we exist rather than putting all our energy and expertise into the means.

New life will come first from prayer, worship, spiritual renewal before restructuring of parishes.

What happened to 20/20?

 The big Question is HOW.

1 comment:

Elaine Dent said...

Powerful words from the people Of God moved by the Spirit through prayer! I am inspired by the leadership of John and yourself that offered such a space for God's Spirit to speak and be heard by all. Blessings as you now head off in a few days to do much listening yourself on the Camino.