We have been away for a couple of days in England, visiting our old church, Calvary Christian Fellowship, near Preston. It has been a glorious spring weekend, full of sunshine, hazy blue skies and green shoots everywhere.
All of which felt very appropriate as we were asked to come to talk to CCF about our experience of the process of making small ‘missional’ communities. They are in the process of trying to change the structure and focus of their organisation towards a collection of such groups. It seems to me to be a very interesting and potentially difficult process- akin to turning around a large oil tanker on a lake, but if anyone can do it I think they can.
Michaela and I did a bit of a double act- I spoke a lot about the thinking behind some of the changes that we have been through, and she described the actual practical experiences. In between we showed photographs, did some activities, and we used a large double sided loom to weave together the names of our community- something that Aoradh first developed for Greenbelt Festival. It has since been used at a few different events up and down the country.
What is created is this lovely thing, messy and rough around the edges, interconnected and full of humanity. We think it is rather a good analogy for the making of community…
It is 10 years since we moved away from CCF up to Scotland. For us this trip was a chance to take stock for ourselves as to the journey we have made. There have been challenges and times of real hardship, but also very great blessings.
This morning, Michaela and I have both taken a day off, which is fortunate as we are both exhausted. We came back to Dunoon on the last (midnight) ferry yesterday.
One of the things we tried to speak about with clarity is the question of what community (or church) is FOR. It is easy for our groups and activities to become all about OUR needs, OUR spirituality, OUR comfort zones. God might then be adopted as some kind of benign mascot. I think the primary way we avoid this is to constantly make community a place of sending, as well as gathering. Hence, we used this poem;
There is a time for all things under heaven
A time for the sent ones of God
To follow the rough roads
Into the barren broken places
To look for the marks left by Jesus
On the soft tissue and brittle bones
Of the Imago Dei
The stinking, wretched
Image bearers of the Living God
Time for the insurgency of God
To follow the mission
Into the hostile places
To seek out the secret stains left by the love
That was woven into the very core
Of the Imago Christi
The failing, faithless
Manifest images of the Christ
Time for the dancers of the new Kingdom dance
To look for the music of Jesus
Amid the static and street noise
Tuning to the high fluting fragile sound
Vibrant and resonant;
To the gracenotes made there by Spiritus Sanctus
We, the discordant, cursing and gossiping
Vessels of the Spirit of the Living God
Time for the revolutionaries of God
To follow the long hard march
Unyoked and with easy burdens
Looking for the soft places where people are
Where freedom flickers, where hopes soar
To seek out the Participatio Christi
With weak but willing hands and sore feet
Learning to partake in the labours of love
For now is the time for holy huddles to scatter
On the winds of the Spirit
From ‘Listing’, available from Proost.