About 26 of us gathered for the first Seminar in our series ‘An introduction to a Missional Spirituality.’ We began in contemplative mode as is right for any faith endeavour. One of the participants commented: ‘It was helpful to me to be reminded of the fact that there is a variety of contemplative prayer “methods” and they are all ways of being with/listening to God. Some methods work better for some people than other methods. I had forgotten the method of centering prayer, and found it very helpful, compared with the World Community for Christian Meditation method of the mantra which I always struggle with. I am trying to use this method now.’
The WCCM often speaks of a mantra as an aid for meditation, the use of a phrase like ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.’ Centering prayer encourages the use of a word, or even simply concentrating on your breathing, which we were encouraged to do. So we began and ended our seminar in contemplation.
Our discussion was wide ranging but what we were endeavouring to do was re imagine the sacred. At the heart of our faith tradition there are many images of God, we think of the God revealed in the person of Jesus, the God present to us sacramentally, in each other, and in those in need, the God who speaks to us in the Word. These are all important and valid. But we cannot place any limits on God and as we endeavour to look beyond ourselves and our own tradition we need to use our imaginations. There is clearly within many folk a search for a ‘spirituality’ but often the Church has not been able to fulfil that longing. We do have much to offer but increasingly we live in a world in which Christian spirituality has become foreign. So we were asked to imagine God in different ways and some folk shared their imaginations. For many the idea of God in creation is a powerful one and the beauty, order and sheer immensity of the created order can speak to us of God. At the other end of the scale one of our number highlighted ‘the God in the particular’ things that we might consider at first to be insignificant, things we take for granted.
We learnt that it will be important for us to develop this sense, especially if the goal is to think about how we can be “missional”. Your experience of God, however wonderful, is not necessarily going to be that of others. Which possibly takes us back to contemplation. The need to listen to God, listen to each other and listen to people “outside” the Church. This calls us to certain practises: reading, reflection and stillness, these are often overlooked in our sometimes frantic lives.
We are looking forward to the second seminar on Saturday 25 March at 2pm. If you missed the first, don’t worry you will soon catch up!