Three things…

Golly. Such a long time since my last post. A function, I’m afraid, of the busyness of life.

Yesterday I met with Catherine (my parish priest) and had a discussion. I described how I feel like, at present, I’m in the desert. Far away from feeling the consolations of God. We also talked about the life of prayer as originating and flowing from God. We don’t need to ‘create’ it, but participate in it. We spoke a little about community, and I described what I understood as the ‘mission’ of the church – to make disciples of Jesus (that is, to be a place of spiritual formation, offering a real training in being disciples, not just ‘sin-management’ – see especially Dallas Willard’s work). At the end of the conversation she posed two questions (I hope I remember them well, Catherine):

  • What does it mean, then, to participate in the prayer of Jesus, but also to be in the desert (which I likened to being scrubbed with a brillo pad)?
  • Where is your community? In what community are you called to be, and how is that worked out?

I’m not very far along in my reflection on either question. However, to the first I can offer a little thought.

As I was saying the morning office, the hymn, which is based on John 15:1-8 spoke to me. However, the whole of John 15:1-17 is relevant in this context:

“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is–when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done–kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
“But remember the root command: Love one another.” John 15:1-17, The Message

More thinking to be done…

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