Yesterday the gathering had an amazing day.
This was a day many of us have been waiting to embark upon for a year or two. I think for myself it concludes the first part a journey that started long before ordination when I clearly heard God’s challenge to join him and find others create something new which was open and inclusive for any wishing to explore more of God but who felt, for one reason or another, that they could not do this within the then existing church structures.
Well .. that journey started with the gathering’s first get together back in April 2009. I’ve linked to my post which I wrote the afternoon after our first gathering, and I smile at the language of journey. That sense of journey was still very strong yesterday … and I think I can safely say a prayer for the community would be ‘Lord, deliver us from ever thinking we have arrived!’
It has taken 4 years from those humble beginnings in a room in our house to get to the stage we were ready for yesterday. In that time people have joined and found it not for them. Others have travelled with us for a while as they re-asses and have then been attracted back to established/inherited church. Others have joined and stayed. I think this is probably the 3rd ‘incarnation’ of the gathering and to me it seems the most stable we have had. That word, stable, worries me as it suggests a static-ness … but that is definitely not a word to describe us.
Yesterday we met for our aspirations day. This came out of our day together in April and is the start of us developing our Rhythm of Life.
We gathered at West Malling Abbey with Lynne Norman, our excellent facilitator, who kicked the day off by getting us to think about what we valued about the gathering. I was close to tears on a few points as we heard from each other how important the gathering had become … and not just to us. Some of the deepest stuff yesterday came from our children as they articulated how they put great value on what we did together.
After looking at what we valued, we were then asked what we were passionate about, then different activities to talk about our dreams and hopes as well as our fears. All the time this was going on Lynne was writing our words and statements on post it notes and sticking them to the wall. You can see the result in the picture which is high res enough to be able to read the post its if you click on it.
The fnext stage was to look at this mass pof words and draw out common themes and put the words into groups. The words grouped natural into 6 areas and then after some discussion we realised that they really came under four main themes.
The last part of this day was to look at each of the four lists and come up with a word or statement that summed them and our thinking up. This became an aspiring statement … as in this is something that we as individuals and the gathering aspire to do.
So today we have reached a milestone. The next stage for us as a community is over the next four months to take each statement in turn and explore this as a gathering in our monthly worship get together. two weeks after that some of the gathering will get together and will write a paragraph or chapter or something that will help us put our aspirations into practice. At the end of this particular process we hope that we will have been developing a Rhythm of Life out of the identified key areas to answer the question about what God is calling your community to be, and to answer the question, How should we live in but not of the contemporary world?
As a gathering I think we were pretty excited by the end of the day. I felt completely privileged to be part of such an amazing group of people … so thank you.