Paul writes... one of the ambitions for this site is to make it practical/practitioner based, in other words to offer examples for you to engage with of how we are doing/exploring deep church in our own local faith community.
We are not saying we are the way to do deep church but we are trying to find a way and value being able to share it with you and to hear your experiences as well.
Church calendar: ordering our time around our faith One of the ways that we do this in practice is follow the church/liturgical calender. We draw on the traditions of the wider church liturgical year and retell the key elements of the christian story within our church service across the year. Our re-ordering of our year around the story and celebration of our common traditions and faith as christians acts as an alternative basis of formation for our time (the ordering of our lives) and a basis for our reality, than say, the marketing consumer calender of the west (christmas -presents; valentines tacky love, easter - chocolate, summer - holidays and then halloween more tacky merchandising opportunities!).
Within our community we have a small team of people that help facilitate this retelling by using creative, artistic, imaginative ways to help challenge us by connecting the traditions into our lives and communicate it in the idioms and rhytms of our every day life. Encouraging and leading our wider community in awareness, participation, practice, pause, remembrance, reflection and re-orientation of our lives around the story of our faith.
All saintsOne of my favourite days in the church calender is All Saints day. I love that within our faith community we get to pause and remember that we are one small part of the river of faith, that stretches back across time and traditions of all those faithful followers of Jesus (who are still cheering us on) and challenges us to continue to be faithful. A great thought that the church with so many faults and failures across time as also kept on being faithful, millions of people living ordinary lives trying to follow Jesus so we can be here today following Jesus. How many faith traditions as this river flowed on down through and now we are the ones with the baton, passing our faith on to all those who will follow by trying to follow the mission of Jesus.
Practical participation and reflection To help our community celebrate all saints I am preparing the following reflection for us to participate in:
Introduction: what is all saints? I intend to use 4 key images (projected on the screen to help convey the idea of All Saints day).
Image 1 stopwatch/second hand: we are all here for a fleeting moment so what? What is this life for? How did we come to this point? What is the point?
Image 2 handprints: we are all as individual/unique as our fingerprints yet we are all connected and leave our print/mark on our family/friends/community/world for good and bad. Following Jesus is not about minding the shop or living our own lives but actively joining in with his mission to bless/change/improve/transform the world.
Image 3 Change over with a relay baton: None of us are here by lucky accident, instead we are at the end of a chain of faith passed down to us from generation to generation. For example we live in a country steeped in christian heritage and values, universal health care, welfare state, freedom of belief etc. Question what will we pass on?
Image 4 a crowd: all of us across time and traditions will meet and celebrate our life of faith we will join together and be one in Jesus, united and reunited. Even now we are being cheered on by those who have gone before.
Participative Reflection: Read John 17-13-23
St John records some of the last words of Jesus on the night before he knows he will die. Many people's last words are recorded as a profound summation of their lives e.g.
"Are they shooting at us...? I told you I was sick..! Don't let it end this way, tell them I said...something!
Power of Jesus last words expressed in his prayer, asummantion of his mission and his vision for what was to come for those who follow him across all of time.
Vision of Jesus starts with the union between him and the Father, both one, in each other (model that with a couple of volunteers). Jesus has one arm around the Father and one arm around us. We are invited to join in that unity, to become one in Jesus and one with each other, to break down and through the divisions of this world and remember our calling to invite others to join us in embrace of the father, the son, the spirit and the family of God.
Invite everyone to stand place their arm on each other's shoulders as symbolic. Read the passage again as prayer (put it on screen).
Concluding refrain to say together: Jesus as you are one with the Father Let us be one with you In your love In your mission For your glory. Through your overflowing life we are joined in eternal life with you and with all who have gone before in faith and with all who are to follow after us. For now and evermore Amen
Over to you... Any thoughts/suggestions on the reflection? Any reflections of your own about how you order/tell/celebrate/re-connect/remind yourself within your own community of the story of our common traditions of following Jesus?