The third part of a talk on waymarks given by Trevor Miller.
Following the previous two parts we now turn to practicalities. We acknowledge that one major way to express our ethos and life is through meeting as Community Groups but how can this be achieved when they are so diverse? Here are some principles to follow.
By Offering Informality – groupings of people who are diverse, creative, ecumenical, where friendship, welcome and acceptance are an expression of home and belonging. Where the gathering is not ‘a meeting place dynamic’ only but an expression of living the life God has called us to embrace.
By Sharing Insight – for those who SEEK and SING, supporting those involved in exodus and exile on their journey home. Exploring what it means to live on the threshold and cross into new understanding of ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ Reflecting the core value of being ‘Committed at the core, loose at the edges’. Living on the border is a continual movement of crossing over thresholds into the new, while still being part of what is left behind, because we are not interested in what is the next fad to move on to, we are interested in following a way for living centred in Jesus ‘the same yesterday, today and forever’ and growing into a greater understanding of living faithfully, our calling, in this generation.
By Seeking Inspiration – Learning together ways of providing the ‘shall’ in ‘how shall WE then live?’ We do this by recognising diversity, difference, and specific localised expressions of our common life.
‘A brother asked one of the Elders, what good work shall I do? And he replied: ‘Not all works are alike. For Scripture says that Abraham was hospitable and God was with him. Elijah loved solitary prayer and God was with him. And David was humble and God was with him. Therefore, whatever you see your soul desire according to God, do that thing and you shall be safe’.
All different but the same God and Rule of life is central to all. Groups will be different, have different emphases, have different people with different needs, but as a community of the heart, the purpose and aspiration will be the same. It’s simply a matter of trust – do your own thing as long as it reflects our DNA.
By Providing Information – bringing updates, news, points for discussion and intercession, providing hubs, linking people and information, major connecting points in the network. All are reminders of our togetherness.
By Giving Instruction – telling the story, living the story, building on the story. Nourishing the roots so the fruit will blossom and provide sustenance for others. Teaching what we live by living what we teach. In his report George Lings quotes Kate Tristram, ‘mission is a by product of pilgrimage’ and goes on to say that ‘This works because those seeking God are naturally attractive to others. Those who together exhibit the life lived will have evangelistic effect by the quality of their communal presence’.
All this is exploring what being ‘Covenanted Together’ means and involves discerning how the way for living discovered in Northumbria translates and shapes our living ‘wherever the Father leads’. This is the Northumbrian communion – crossing barriers of geography – those covenanted together in the love of Jesus, called to ‘give away what is not ours to keep’ – our life, core values, carrying the torch, because we are blessed (not for its own sake) but to be a blessing.
So we ask, as a Community, are we more or less “Dynamic and erratic, spontaneous and radical, audacious and immature, are we more or less committed if not altogether coherent, ecumenically open and often experimental, visible here and there, now and then but unsettled institutionally. Almost monastic in nature, but most of all enacting a fearful hope for human life in society.” William Stringfellow.
The core values of our Rule of Availability and Vulnerability are seen in the heart of God and the life of Jesus as expressed in Phil 2. We read there of Jesus, equal with God yet making himself available to a sinful world as its Saviour and in the greatest expression of intentional vulnerability ever seen, dying our death on the shameful Cross. It is a precious gift to be treasured in the heart and lived in the world through our roles, responsibilities and relationships. We need to take the initiative – we have something very real and precious to offer – a new way for living that actual works.
We return to Brendan for our final words: ‘I will believe You for my future, chapter by chapter, until all the story is written. Focus my mind and my heart upon You, my attention always on You without alteration. Strengthen me with Your blessing and appoint to me the task’.