the surprise of not knowing

birchington huts cardI mentioned in my last post that I felt some resonance with Russell Brand’s statement when asked by Paxman what his alternative system would look like. He responded with ‘I don’t know … but I know what it won’t be like …. it won’t destroy the planet, it won’t create a massive economic disparity, it won’t ….

I kind of relate to this language in my role as a pioneer. I am called to create something new. In my case it is ‘church’ or ‘christian community’ rather than a new political system. Often, though, I get the Paxman type questions …. “What will it look like?’, ‘what will be different?’ ‘will that really be church?’

My response has often been ‘I don’t quite know just yet …. but that it will be inclusive, it will be missional, hospitality will be important …. and this will all work when we ourselves know what any of that means!’ In the very early days when the gathering stated to gather we could only define ourselves with nots .. we will not have a statement of faith because that excludes, we will not have a few teaching experts because that disables participation, we will not …

As Bishop Graham says …. ‘The emphasis on ‘listening’ (discernment) and ‘incarnational mission’ (with particular emphasis on the specific local context) means that a key element of the praxis for planting fresh expressions of church, as developed in the UK, has been the recognition that the planting pioneer or team will not know the shape, model or cultural form of the fresh expression when they start out on the process of planting.’

I would add also that that starting phase can be quite a long time span …. 4 years on and I still think we are ‘starting out’ on the process.

The difficulty when creating, as I mentioned in my last post, is that we, and I, have only ever known what we already have. That model works for some, and that is great. For others who may be seeking God, though that model id never going to work. So … we need to birth something new, but birthing is painful and, actually, we are never going to know what is birthed. It’s a surprise.

The other day I was with Sister Diane, my spiritual Director, who gave me a new prayer task. She suggested at the start of each day, before I do daily office that ‘I welcome the day, thank God for the day and welcome whatever it has for me today’. I’m never sure …. but today, even more than other days maybe …. I am hoping to be surprised.

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