Thursday, September 23, 2010

Core Practice #7: Creative Expression

Our final Core Practice, "Creative Expression", was maybe for some a more difficult concept to grasp. This may be a reflection of how often in the church we have unwittingly stifled people's creativity by being too one-dimensional in our expression. This is not just about art - if so, I for one would consider myself part of the remedial class. Maybe not a bad idea in itself some might say!

The thoughts that came to me caused me to look to the book of Revelation at a part of the picture given to John of the assembled worshippers in heaven, before the Lamb;

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" [Rev 7:9]

When we think of the diversity that is within the church, something we are meant to celebrate and not be intimidated by. When we consider that the same creative Spirit that hovered over the waters in Genesis 1 is at work within each one of us, personally and collectively. When we grasp that the recreation of all things in, through and for, Jesus Christ has begun and that we are a part both of the product and the process. When we see the interplay of both "truth" and "beauty" - their respective importance and necessity in what God is doing through His Son.

We are a part of something much grander than we are often able to give God credit for. This also means that God has purpose and intent for each one of us in effecting his purposes upon the earth. We are to both take responsibility for this within ourselves but also draw this out of one another through the prophetic ministry of the Holy Spirit at work in our communities.

" the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation." [1 Corinthians 14:3]

During our time together, we were led to ponder the condition of our heart before the Lord and one another. Carol had helpfully laid out the display below (see photo) to help with our meditation and reflection so that we might express ourselves through word, picture, song, poem, etc. It led to some vulnerable sharing that become a holy moment of knowing one another more deeply and knowing the presence of the One who makes all things new.

Our conversation on this topic is to be continued next time, so this will hopefully be continued ...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Core Practice #6: Serving Others

"It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." [Matt 20:26-28]

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." [Matt 5:16]

"And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." [Matt 5:41]

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." [John 15:15]

In many ways these Scriptures speak for themselves. But as we reflected as a community, a number of conclusions were drawn;
  • service can be described as 'an act of helpful activity; help; aid'
  • though not the means by which we are saved, according to James, to call yourself a believer/follower of Christ and not to serve others, is to have a faith that is dead. Paul puts it another way in Ephesians, we are saved for good works
  • the world asks the question, 'what's in it for me?' This is not to be our primary motivation as Christ-followers.
  • there are over 2,000 references to the poor in the Scriptures reflecting God's special heart for those living on the fringes, in need of help
  • the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46 amply describes Jesus' expectation that we will feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit those in prison.
  • service is good news, therefore a significant part of evangelism
  • the dynamic of our serving as a community does something to us also, it builds something among us, we are changed
  • we are not to wait until we feel ready or feel like serving, it is in the act of obedience to Jesus' command that our hearts ore touched with compassion and we are changed
We talked about and explored the different ways in which we have had opportunity in the past to serve others - whether as a larger community or as individuals. We wanted to commit as a community to make this a regular part of our rhythm of life, being open to needs as God brings them across our path.

What does being a disciple of Jesus and serving mean to you ... individually?

Where and how can we serve as a group, together?

How can we best maintain a balance of inward growth and outward service?