Saturday, 26 November 2011

Advent and Creativity

What is it about Advent that seems to let loose a deluge of creativity? Is it because it's the beginning of the new church year; or because ordinary time has seemed so long prior to the Kingdom Season which doesn't really do it for many people; or because it's the first of three seasons which have a natural and progressive movement about them? Or is it because there is something about Advent which is essentially generative?

Repeatedly people say that Advent is their favourite season, and I'm one of them! This week I assembled our home Advent Candle wreath and crafted some words and prayers for each Sunday; I set up the daily Advent Candle; I sorted out the Advent playlist on iTunes; and thought about some reading for the season. And I began to recall some of the great works of art, and poems, that are informed by Advent themes.

I came across this brilliant video clip on Godspace which entertains and informs - Advent in 2 Minutes.

And also these beautiful words from John Van De Laar.

‘Advent reminds us that there is a new world coming – always coming. It also teaches us that this new world does not remove the realities of the old world, at least not yet. Rather, the new world exists in the midst of the old one. The signs of suffering and trauma that we see every day are not an indication that God’s reign has failed, or that God is not coming, or even that we still need to wait for some future fulfilment when all will be set right. Rather, the suffering we experience in this world is an opportunity for us to encounter God and to help others to do the same. The struggles of this life are a call to embody now the grace and restoration of God, so that we become the manifestation of God’s motivation and the channel of God’s presence and activity for those around us.
'Our challenge, as we begin the Advent journey again this year, is to hold fast to faith and to live, as best we can, in the midst of the struggling world, the hope-filled life of Christ. Despair is not an option for us. Rather, as we celebrate God’s coming, hope becomes the fountain from which our joy, our love and our life of Christlikeness can flow.’ 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

AnamCara

At the Baptist Order Convocation, someone quoted from a booklet, AnamCara: Collegial Clergy Communities by Mahan Siler. A number of us were captivated and so we ordered some copies from the States.

It really is a booklet and not a book, but this slim volume is dense with beautiful writing and deep wisdom.

'How do you stoke the fire of soul within your institutional role? How do you keep alive your curiosity about this mysterious generosity that wants to surge through you and your ministry? How do you lead with passion and vision within a congregation that may desire more management than leadership, more comfort than challenge, more efficiency than effectiveness?

'My response from fifty years in our vocation, is this: You cannot by yourself. Without soul friends, vital pastoral leadership is not possible. A single log will not remain aflame.'

And another extract, 'How do we get to that place where the Music of the gospel becomes again and again more important than we are? With friends, I submit. I imagine pastors circling up with other colleagues to "jam", to lose and find themselves again in the Music. I picture AnamCara as one of those gathering places where vocational friends, practice, improvise, harmonise, note the discordant sounds, learn from one another, laugh with one another over mistakes - in other words, to love the Music together.'