Thursday, 26 June 2014

God's Global Awakening

Isaiah 2:2-4

Performing Awakening

            Diana Butler Bass describes a revival that took place in 1734,   1) A general stirring toward moral living, 2) an awareness of personal shortcomings and sins, 3) an experience of ‘converting grace’ and 4) a sense of joy from encountering the ‘new light’ of God.  These were the steps Pastor Jonathan Edward had realized which lead to a spiritual awakening, but first and foremost what was essential for it to occur was prayer.  Prayer opened the heart to sense God and opened the eyes to see God’s activity.(p.254)
This Spiritual Awakening involved four steps which enlivened the members of a Congregational Church in Northampton, Massachusetts.
First Great Awakening- prayer
Second Great Awakening- preaching- power of the word
Third Great Awakening- healings, speaking in tongues; acceptance and adapting to insights of science, history ,psychology, sociology, theology and biblical criticism—progressive theology and politics
            Performing faith involves prepare- learning the story, practice—rehearsing a new way of life, play-having fun and participate-joining with others
Prepare- learning the religious story of our time-
Practice- doing actions that rehearse love, charity, kindness, goodness mercy…
Play- laughter, fun
Participate-everyone takes part
            Today we are experiencing a Great Global awakening- belonging, behaving, and believing. To nurture this we must prepare for an awakening, engage practices of faith, have fun, make changes in order to have an experiential faith. But this experiential faith demands action in the world and in public. Yet to do this one must realize that you are not alone as you act in and with community and with God.

REFLECT for a moment:

Butler-Bass states that we are now in a Great Global awakening. Do you agree? Why/not? What is important in your understanding of who God is and where the Spirit of God leads you?

What have you learned about the church your understanding of God and religio for today through reading this book by Butler-Bass?

What will you share with your church friends and community to bring about change?


God help us as we learn to be the church of today’s practise and thoughts. Helps us to be the community you have called us to be and to become. SILENT PRAYER for self, others and God. Amen.

Diana Butler-Bass Christianity after Religion: the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. .New York Harper2012 (chapter 9)
This concludes this series of reflections on Butler-Bass’ book. Be sure to check out the reflection next week when we look at “Doubt”

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Great Commission-- Go

Matthew 28:16-20

The Great Commission-- Go

            The Great Awakening is the term used by Diana Butler-Bass as she describes a change in US and North American religious/ and faith practises. She writes about the revival of conservative politics in the 1980s but this was not ‘the’ awakening which  needed to address the real challenges and struggles of the emerging world. It is merely the start of experiential faith.” This Great Awakening in not a quest “to escape the world. Instead, it moves into the heart of the world, facing the challenges head- on to take what is … and make them workable and humane in the service of global community.” (p.239)
            Butler-Bass then describes her visit with bank tellers of different faith backgrounds and languages and it is through this experience that she’ felt the power of the resurrected Jesus so completely in my soul.” 241..
            This great awakening of the spirit is hard to see around us because it is quiet different from those in history. Part of the reason for this is that no one spiritual renewal has reshaped us, there is no political consensus and no genuine institutional renewal. This awakening is taking a long time and it is not only tied to Christianity. It is a multi-religious awakening as the Spirit speaks to people in different ways and it is not just in North America but global in nature.

REFLECT for a moment:
Have you been a witness to this awakening? What has been your experience of meeting others’ in their faith? What has been your learning from this?  Do you feel you have become more tolerant or have you moved beyond this level to knowledgeable or understanding?
How does this help you in your faith growth/ formation and relationship with God?  What does Jesus’ commission to tell others of his story mean to you?

Holy One, we praise you and rejoice in your love for us all. Help us to understand our world, its people and the faith we share and have in you. Open our hearts and our minds to learn and love. Amen.

Diana Butler-Bass Christianity after Religion: the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. .New York Harper2012 (chapter8)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Great Reversal

The Great Reversal

Diana Butler-Bass states that the “Western Christianity ordered This however is not the pattern of people today. Butler Bass suggest that we must turn around the order in which the questions are asked. That is, we need to reverse the order to belonging, behaving and believing. This is then the difference between religion as institution and religio as a spiritually vital faith.  Early Christians understood that faith was a matter of community first, practices second and belief as a result of the first two. So we must build up this community as well.
faith in a particular way. Churches taught that belief came first, behaviour came next and finally belonging resulted depending upon how you answered the first two questions.”
Belonging: People are in search of community. Jesus asked the disciples to follow him (Mark 1;16-20)  and they belonged to a new community. People no longer join—they join in. This means that when we join in our heart leads the way. But how do we join in- by finding out about each other and who we are and what we like/ dislike.
Behaving- The early followers of Jesus practised their faith. They listened to stories that taught them how to act toward one another and what to do in the world. These actions induced wonder, gave them courage empowered hope and opened up a new vision of God. By doing things together, they began to see differently. Jesus shouted, “Follow me” to the fishermen—he did not state “Have faith”. He demonstrated what he wanted them t do, he did it with them and then sent them out to do it themselves telling them to proclaim God’s reign and cure the sick.
Believing- Before Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20) Jesus practised hospitality. Before asking Peter “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus reminds them of this act of miraculous hospitality, saying that the action pointed to greater spiritual realities of God’s power and presence in the world. That is, Peter’s participation in community and their shared practice set the stage for Peter’s statement of faith.
Being a people, practicing faith, and professing a story of God. This is the method of church families in the 21st century. It is called Experiential Christianity which is the age of the Spirit when faith as a way of life or a guiding compass has once again begun. The experience of the divine is displacing theories about it.

REFLECT for a moment:
Your experience of church- belonging, or believing—which came first?When did Jesus’ story start? When did your sense of community come into mean church?

Holy God, we praise you for your gift to us—communities that care and people who believe in you and show us your way. Help us to understand and bring hope once again to all who are searching for community, belonging and understanding you. 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 (chapter7)

A New Vision part 3

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 third- belonging.
c)      Belonging
Belonging is an issue of identity and related to being. Belonging often brings the sense of Who am I? And from where do I come?

Spiritual Question 1: Where am I?
Through time people have move around the planet and in leaving one place, establishing rots in another there is a the question of where am I now and where am I going? This is not new because of immigration patterns through the 1800-1900’s but because of man challenges and changes to churches, people are grieving their losses and searching from where do I come? Where is my history?
Moving is a part of the Biblical story—Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Noah, Jesus… In the midst of all ths movement the flow of history, the spiritual journeys retold in the Bible- what grounds them all is God. I AM (Exodus 3:14)  All the wanderings lead to find our self—Who am I?—and eventually lead to the One who is named I Am.

Spiritual Question 2: Whose am I?
Who am I in God? We often read the Gospels as focusing on Jesus but if we shift the focus, what if we look at the other people in the story how do Jesus’ friends and acquaintances change or gain new insights when they find themselves in Jesus’ company?  The woman at the well (John 4) certainly came to realize who she was—I am loved by God. So the question that needs to be asked is “Who am I in God?” and Who is God in me? How do we answer this in faith? Do we really belong to God?

Prepositional Faith—where the spiritual vocabulary of prepositions invites all to reflect on God and the self and this relationship

PRAY and reflect on these words from  St. Patrick’s Breastplate:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me.
Christ in me, Christ beneath, me, Christ above me.
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

How do these ‘prepositions’ indicate or help define how you belong to God and God belongs to you? The spiritual community a living a renewed church begins with being in Christ, the first and primary relationship of a vibrant faith life. But the church must all be communion where a set of relationships make up a mode of being.
Bonhoeffer writing in his prison cell in 1944 …. Who am I” This or the other?..
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

Take time to pray and reflect on this idea of belonging—to others and to God and how others belong to you. Ask God to clarify any questions and wonder—for you are His!

Diana Butler-Bass Christianity after Religion: the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. .New York Harper2012 (chapter6)