News and Info

Friday, 30 May 2014

A New Vision part 2



A New Vision

a)      Believing, b) Behaving, c)Belonging

Diana Butler-Bass offers a new vision in her book which includes three key areas of awareness of who God is. These are believing, behaving and belonging. This reflection will focus on the second- behaving.
b)      Behaving
Will our children have faith? This is a question posed my many seniors today because there are fewer people under 40 attending services on a regular basis. Religious services used to be shared or inherited by standing or kneeling by one’s parents and learning the practices that composed a spiritual way of life. Through time each person learning how to be Christian, reading the Bible, singing, listening to sermons, feeding hungry people, gathering used clothing for those in need, saintliness… etc. Faith was inherited and it was also a craft, joining together skills and a community. What was taught was how to be a Christian but no one shared what was significant about being this or why we should be one.
            Spiritual Question 1—What is it you do in this congregation that has changed your life and the life of your church?  What spiritual practices help you be alive in God and others? How intentional are you in this?
            Spiritual  Question 2- Why do I do it? Do you do something because you like to do it or are you imitating someone else and doing it their way?  The primary why for any Christian practice is that the action, in some way, imitates Jesus. Christians do certain things seeking to imitate Jesus and Jesus’ followers who went before—not necessarily the person who arranged the flowers the same way for 30 years. Following Jesus involves encountering the same God they encountered through prayers, study and worship; imitating Jesus and the saints means enacting God’s love in the world by feeding the hungry, comforting the sorrowful, standing for the oppressed, caring for the poor, healing the sick and making peace.


Thought to consider:

How does imitation and intention influence your life as a Christian believer. The what and why of behaviour, of practice leads back to the how. What does this mean for you?

What spiritual practices are deepening your love of God and neighbour?

As you consider what you / your church does spiritually to deepen your love of God consider praying these words:

Holy One, you know us better than anyone, help us to draw closer to you in what we say and do. Open our hearts to your Spirit; reveal yourself to us and enable us to show others the depth of our love in what we do. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Diana Butler-Bass Christianity after Religion: the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. .New York Harper2012 (chapter5

Saturday, 24 May 2014

A New Vision part 1



A New Vision

a)      Believing, b) Behaving, c)Belonging

Diana Butler-Bass offers a new vision in her book which includes
three key areas of awareness of who God is. These are believing, behaving and belonging. This reflection will focus on the first one- believing.
a)      Believing
What do I believe? Is doctrine important to me or should it be? These are questions which invite discussion but all demand intellectual answers about things that cannot be comprehended entirely by the mind. These answers in the past have divided families and neighbours and caused diversity amongst people and church institutions. Yet what should one ask about believing in God? Maybe the question really needing to be asked is “How do you believe?”
 How asks a hands on deeper knowledge of the thing being asked, Asking how weaves our lives with the information as we receive, review, reflect and act upon what we sought. It is a question of meaning and purpose that pushes people into a deeper engagement in the world, rather than memorizing facts. It is a shift from about to experience of. How enables an emerging spiritual question one of experience and connection.
            How does one believe and others understand your believing? It is through experiential religion where sharing of stories and rituals enable other people to participate in a sense of the divine as you first experienced it. But it is even more than this—for it also involves the heart integrating ideas and thoughts.
            How do you express your belief in God? Is it in personal statements of faith, or in the way of personalizing a creed of faith? What does this mean as we share together with others in a church setting? How do you share your belief?
Question To Consider:

How do you believe what you do? What happened for you to have these thoughts and ideas about God? Do you share it?

 PRAYER

Loving  God we praise you for how you reveal yourself to us. We believe, help us in our unbelief and enable us to know you.Amen.

Diana Butler-Bass Christianity after Religion: the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. .New York Harper2012 (chapter4)

Friday, 16 May 2014

When Religion Fails



When Religion Fails

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
 Matthew 5:3

            Diana Butler-Bass’ cites the years 2000-2010 as “ because of the many challenges faced by the church through outside influences, long-term problems and issues of justice. There has arisen a ‘holy discontent’ which is the beginning of change. This discontent is not only in the church but politics, economics, and life in general has raised concerns. But what also occurred is that there is a longing to find a community where a more just and loving form of Christian faith is enacted.
The Horrible Decade” for the Christian church in the US
            The question of religious versus spiritual has taken on new forms of the church’s life. Good worship- leads to spiritual encounters; but religion is the work of a church and is organized. Can these two co-exist—the religious and spiritual? The purposeful community learning to become like Jesus through spiritual practices. It sounds possible but in reality, this ‘and’ concept may cause further divisions and conflict.
            Maybe we need to turn to the root of religion—‘religio’ for it means faith, living, subjective experience including love, veneration, devotion, awe, worship, transcendence, trust a way of life, an attitude toward the divine or nature, or  a  “particular way of seeing and feeling the world.” This ‘religio’ is what many people are seeking and calling it spirituality for lack of a better term; something new that is really old—faith which is the personal response to the terror and splendour and living concern of God.”
            Butler Bass then states that this faith is ‘a Great Returning to ancient understandings of the human quest for the divine. Reclaiming a faith “where belief is not quite the same thing as an answer, where behaviour is not following a list of dos and don’ts, and where belonging to Christian community is less like joining an exclusive club and more of a relationship with God and others.”(p.99)



Question for Reflection:
1)      Do you think that Butler Bass is correct in thinking that we are looking for spiritual growth vs religion of the past generations? What does spirituality mean for you and what are you seeking in your relationship with God?
2)      “Religio” reflects a Great Returning to ancient understandings of the human quest for God and to return t the basic questions of believing, behaving, and belonging and exploring each of these with an open heart. What is your response to this thought? How do you anticipate how this “Great Return” will play out today?
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PRAYER
Holy God in faith you call to us and rejoice in our following you with faith. Help us to understand the changes facing our churches/ governance and even who you call us to be in mission and ministry. Show us your way to grow in faith and speak to us a clear path to follow for we are seeking to be your children in faith and to grow knowing that you will guide us always. Amen.


Diana Butler-Bass Christianity after Religion: the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. .New York Harper2012 (chapter3)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Choices



Choices

“Now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may
 love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him.”
Deuteronomy 30 : 19-20

            In the opening sections of Diana Butler-Bass’ book (see below) she describes the choices we each make today in comparison to those of just two generations ago. Choices that have come into existence because of the economic, social and political world in which we live. Choices in everything from a cup of coffee, to worship of God and how to love your neighbour.  Some people will choose well, others badly and some will choose what is familiar or something new. But each person makes choices.
            This is also true today of religion and specifically three big questions of what is meant by church. Believing, behaving and belonging are under stress in terms of what it is we are called to do and it is in answering these questions which enables us to glean information so that we may make informed choices.
            Believing- what do I think? People do believe in God but they appear to think differently about God. Is God ‘a person ‘with whom people can have a relationship or is God an impersonal force”. Or maybe God is really God based upon where God exists in relationship with people—Authoritarian, Benevolent, Critical, Distant (ABCD). Just what do we/ you/I believe? And how is this belief in you developed?
            Behaving- How should I act? What do you do and how do you practice your faith? People say they attend church services regularly- yet churches are not full? The reality is that people attend less regularly and when people pray they are doing so in different forms or ways not only what was once learned and shared in services.
            Belonging: Who am I People’s sense of belonging is not particularly stable People are checking things out in different congregations, churches, mosques and synagogues to ultimately answer the question of who am I as a child of God.
            What is occurring is that people” begin to doubt their sense and sanity and they search for new gods, new ways to perceive and comprehend the power that guides the universe.” What results is that that there is a new beginning; signs of longing in the midst of the discontent.
REFLECTION QUESTION:
Religious activities include behaving, belonging and believing. Thinking of your own life has your religious activity changed in recent years/ months? Why? What does this mean to your faith growth? What do you believe is directing this renewal of faith?

PRAYER
Holy God in you we have our being- but through faith we come to know you more intimately and about the Gift you gave us in Jesus. Please speak to us now so that we might know and reflect a new way to understand our faith, belief and love for Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Diana Butler-Bass Christianity after Religion: the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. .New York Harper2012 (chapter2)