Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Slow Church:
an EpiscoBadger conversation in 4 parts

Tonight is week 2 of a 4 week conversation we're having at the UW-Episcopal Center based on the book 'Slow Church.' In case you missed last week, here's the outline we (mostly) followed. Tonight's a new night, and we'll be looking at the first large portion of the book, which talks bout the relationship of ethics to taste, stability, and patience. Dinner's at 6:30p, convo at 7p, Compline to close. Come!

(a 4 week conversation at the UW-Episcopal Center)

“Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually; to be spiritual is to be amazed.” Abraham Heschel

“Above all, trust the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The Church [has] to learn to wait.” Pope Francis


The Drama of God’s Story

Act One: Creation
Act Two: The Fall 
Act Three: Israel
Act Four: Jesus
Act Five: The Church

“The biblical narrative is the story of the whole creation, from the beginning through the present to the end - and yet it’s not so much a story that we mechanically act out but rather a story that serves to form us into the people we need to be.”

Improvisation: 3 Rules

1. Always agree with your improv partner
2. Not just yes, but YES AND.
3. There are no mistakes, only opportunities

Patience and Collaboration: A God Willing to Move Slowly

“All around us we see the ‘huge spontaneous upheaval of the entire human race’ that Thomas Merton talked about, a revolution he rightly predicted would be manifested in desperation, cynicism, violence, self-contradiction, fear and hope, doubt and belief, creation, destruction, and ‘obsessive attachments to images, idols, slogans, programs that only dull the general anguish for a moment until it bursts out everywhere.’ In the midst of the frantic, churning, disturbed and roiling shallow waters of modernity, Slow Church seeks to anchor itself in the deep, still waters of a remarkably patient yet radically immanent God…

“In everything, Slow Church looks ahead to the eschatological redemption that is the climax of the central drama of the world. Slow Church takes the long view, examining all thought and culture, every ideology and assumption, all action and faction by the messianic light of the last day. Paradoxically, taking the long view allows us to be truly attentive to the details of the here and now. It all matters, nothing is wasted.”

Scriptures illuminating the patience of God: Matthew 13, 1 Corinthians 13. 

“God’s plan has always been centered on the gathering of a peculiar people who will embody reconciliation.” Reconciliation all things to God is the mission of God: the healing of creation, us to God and one another.

Chaplain’s note: reconciliation is both the love of the community for the world around it *and* the love of the community for one another: Simon the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector were each called to be Jesus’ disciples. They were opposites within the twelve.

We are learning to act out the drama of God’s reconciliation, an improvisation, without fear.

“The resurrection of Jesus relieves us of the fear of death.” 1 Cor 15:55 “Those who love their sisters and brothers have already passed from death to life (1 John 3:14)

“The primary work of Slow Church is not attracting people to our church buildings, but rather cultivating together the resurrection life of Christ, by deeply and selflessly loving our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and even our enemies. As we holistically embody God’s love, we find joy that we pray will draw people closer to Christ.”

“The nature of the drama being played out in creation is that the troupe of actors who were conscious of the drama and actively cooperating with it began small, but it is slowly expanding, gradually winning the trust of all humanity until everyone is playing his or her role.”

Conversation Starters

According to Scripture, what is the ultimate end to which God is bringing all of creation? What is God doing in and with the world?

According to Scripture, how has God chosen to accomplish God’s mission in the world? What is the role that the Church has been given?

What are the particular strategic initiatives to which God has called our local faith community, in its particular time and place, in participation with God’s mission?

What are the theological and practical convictions that we share as a faith community and that give shape to our following together in the way of Jesus?

What are our shared practices for intentionally nurturing the formation of our local faith community?

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