Cutting to the Essentials

‘St. Francis cut to the essentials and avoided what had been, and continues to be, a preoccupation with nonessentials… separation from the world is the monastic temptation, asceticism is the temptation of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, moralism or celibacy is the Catholic temptation, intellectualising is the seminary temptation, privatised Gospel and inerrant ‘belief’ is the Protestant temptation, and the most common temptation for all of us is to use belonging to the right group and practicing its proper rituals as a substitute for any personal or life-changing encounter with the Divine.’

~ Richard Rohr

Ouch. That last sentence in particular. We, as individual followers of Christ and as collective groups of believers, must always question (and be aware of) our motives. God looks at the heart, the inside, not the outside.

For Ordinary Folk Theology Is

A good and solid biblical teacher must come clean about their manner of interpretation early on, or you have no foundation for trusting what they say. Just saying, “It is in Scripture,” as most do, is largely meaningless, because anyone can find a workable “proof text” for whatever they want to believe somewhere in the Bible.

~ Richard Rohr

There is an excellent post from Richard Rohr today about how we approach our faith, its beliefs and tenets, and how we interpret the bible. I confess I have been steadily surprised and awed by Richard Rohr, although I don’t always agree with what he says, not being Catholic (but then, I think he’d be fine with that, which is one of the reasons I like him). As a Baptist, I truly value the importance of The Word, but Rohr seems to encompass this (and more) in this post. He puts into words things I might have discerned or felt but was never quite able to grasp concretely enough to express. I look forward to learning more. Meantime, if you’re interested, you can find the post by clicking here: Our Tricycle for Forward Movement

yoda_attack_of_the_clones-1

Rohr, in trying to describe the Holy Spirit, uses the words ‘force field’, which inevitably and somewhat hysterically reminds me of Star Wars: “Use the force, Luke!”  

Image:

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38391903

 

Fellowship

Our relationships with other believers can be tragically shallow. Even small groups… can be more like superficial social clubs… Our fast-paced modern world makes it hard to slow down and invest in each other… Socialization and fellowship are [often] confused. They are not the same thing.

from Positively Powerless: How a Forgotten Movement Undermined Christianity by L.L. Martin (who blogs here)

This paragraph, from the final chapter of Laura’s excellent book, struck me as an incredibly powerful statement, and one that I know to be true. The vast majority of Christian encounters fall very much into the shallower end of fellowship, at best. The truest fellowship that I have ever experienced was that shared within Celebrate Recovery, where for a short space of time each week we could take off the ‘mask’ of everyday life and become our true, measly, weak selves. We could remove the Christian smile and the ‘hallelujah!’ attitude that pervades many churches here in the UK. Those things are not wrong, but they are wrong when they are constant and never tempered with the reality of sin and struggle.

Something miraculous happened at Celebrate Recovery. Every week, Jesus sat in that room alongside us as we confessed, and shared, and prayed, and wept. We grew to know one another at a deep level, we grew taller in our spiritual and emotional stature, we experienced profound and deep healing, and we experienced a true, spiritual fellowship. I pray God will bring Celebrate Recovery to our town, in His time. I know our town could use it! I pray that I will meet the right people, God-willing, to take on this none-too-small adventure.

Jesus… looked up to heaven and said… “I ask… on behalf of those who will believe in me through [my disciples’] word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:1,20-23 (NRSVA)

Debussy and Runner Beans

I was trying to practise the piano. For some reason, after years of very little playing, I’ve been playing quite a bit this past week. Today, after five minutes, I had to stop. I was making too many mistakes because, alas, I was too tired. So now I’m just sitting and trying not to be too bored. I’m looking at the runner beans that I planted. The way they shoot up is nothing short of miraculous.

This is what I was practising, before this stupid illness made me stop and – er – contemplate runner beans o_O It’s a beautiful interpretation of Debussy’s The Girl with the Flaxen Hair (La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin):

As for me, a little later this afternoon I have to drive for an hour to pick up our girls from Guide Camp, which will no doubt knock me out for the rest of the day. It’s been so quiet this weekend.