Saturday, December 02, 2006

Leaving your nets

I have been following the Pope’s visit to Turkey through the eyes of Robert Moynihan from the “Inside the Vatican” magazine. In Robert’s final reflections about the importance of this visit he moves away from the two men of the moment and points us back to St Peter and St Andrew.

Here’s what he has to say:

“... And so, the story of Benedict’s trip to Turkey remains open-ended. The words and actions of these days will bear their fruits in due season.

So what is the key issue now?

It is to see how the seeds planted here grow, how they are watered and tended as they mature.

Pope Benedict, in his homily at the Mass on November 30 said the effort to bring the separated Christian Churches together, East and West, Orthodox and Catholic, was the chief goal of his visit, imitating the work of the apostles Peter and Andrew, brothers called by Christ to leave their work as fishermen to become "fishers of men."

That call reveals much about the mind of Christ. He did not call them to create structures. He did not call them to build churches. He did not call them to delineate parishes or dioceses or patriarchates. He called them to catch men.

Their work was to propose to men and women a "good news" which would be so attractive that those men and women would become different, filled with a new spirit, and being so transformed, would create the necessary preconditions for a more just, peaceful, and loving world.

And how did Peter and Andrew act?

They acted with courage. They risked everything. They left their ordinary work and took on a work which they did not anticipate, a work which was given to them by Christ. And they carried out that work even unto death - unto deaths on crosses, one crucified head down, the other crucified on a cross shaped like an "x."…”

Tomorrow in the parish we start our Advent homily series on God’s first four questions to man, beginning with “where are you?”

I will pick up on the ‘fisherman’ theme in my homily, asking if we are hiding from the God we once walked with for fear of being sent out to fish for men and women, outside of the comfort zone of our own little bit of paradise.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Parallel ways of being Church

Stuarticus asks in response to my last post:

…It's interesting to consider the different rates of change in the wider community and the church.
Also, change is not necessarily synonimous with improvement..
So, should the church: 
* lead from the front
* keep pace with societal 
expectations or 
* act as a rearguard moderating 
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In response I offer the following:

My recent reading would seem to suggest that we do not throw out the old, but that we find other ways of being Church in parallel ways to our existing faith communities, offering a choice without compromising theological or liturgical integrity.

Two separate congregations, sharing the same buildings, ministers and resources, with some cross-fertilisation of membership, opens up possibilities for reaching and making connections with a wider cross-section of new disciples without upsetting the worshipping style of existing congregations.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A lesson from my Grandmother

I’ve been reading a lot recently about new ways of being ‘church’ and feeling a little uneasy that I may have to give up some of my familiar props if we are to be effective in our mission. But I had a revelation today.

Today is my grandmother’s 98th birthday – this morning, Melbourne time, I received an SMS from my family to say that they were in the midst of the birthday celebrations and it would be a good time to call and say ‘happy birthday’. So on the side of a dirt road, on the other side of the globe, I called my grandmother from my mobile phone and wished her a happy birthday. At 98 she takes this in her stride just as she is happy to look at pictures on a computer rather than pass around photographs.

I think what I am saying here is that the telephone greeting was a similar conversation to one I would have had with her on a local land-line thirty years ago. The pictures we looked at on a computer recently were the same family groupings we would have looked at on photo paper thirty years ago. Doing the same things in new ways strengthens the relationship; it doesn’t weaken or cheapen it. It allows it to continue in ‘real-time’ despite the tyranny of distance.

There are new ways in which we can be Church, we just have to be prepared to accept them.