The old has gone, the new has come! Okay, Christ’s Pieces isn’t as exciting as the eschaton! Still, we hope that through this experimental Christian community at Open Book, faith is deepening and you are discovering a foretaste of the transformation God has in store for all of his creation.
2015 laid a great foundation with book studies of Desiring the Kingdom and Kingdom Calling. Together we’ve explored how to leverage our everyday habits to align with and experience the reign of God. We’ve also discovered how to reframe our daily grind as a God-given vocation through which we seek first the Kingdom.
Each fortnightly gathering we’ve shared in the combination of rich liturgy (Taize songs, Northumbrian prayers, creative Bible reading), open discussion, reflection on art, and the designing of rich practices and habits to reinforce our identity and calling in Christ. In our first cycle for 2016 (starting Thursday 4th February) we follow up with a natural and pressing question:
Beyond solo efforts, how do we grow together in Christlikeness and grow up in mission as the community of God?
Forming new life-rhythms and integrating our faith and work is not meant to be an individualistic pursuit. Jesus came to redeem and reconcile humanity as a family. He brings disparate members and even enemies together in one body. This is the “church”.
And yet, today we are seeing vast numbers of Christians leaving institutional expressions of the faith, and setting out on their own spiritual voyage of discovery.
That’s why we’re taking a semester to sit at the feet of a sage. Jean Vanier , an internationally celebrated humanist, philosopher and theologian, formed the L’Arche community in 1964. It was a simple and yet revolutionary expression of Christ’s love, as people with and without an intellectual disability lived together in genuine, reciprocal relationship. (You can hear him share this vision here and here.)
Jean crystallised his thoughts in his book Community and Growth, expanded upon in the 1989 edition which is available on amazon.com here. Over 10 sessions we will dialogue with the work of this wise writer. We will re-imagine what it means to be the church–the community of God–in terms of unity, commitment, mission, growth, nourishment, authority, gifts, welcome (inclusion and hospitality), gatherings, rhythms, and celebration.
While few of us have a diagnosed intellectual impairment (I’m counting myself in on this, where PhD means ‘permanent head damage’!), we are each special in our own way. We each must learn to love and be loved precisely in our difference, weakness and even pain. In so doing, we may together grow and become more fully human, bearing God’s image collectively in our community.
Check out the calendar below for key dates, and pdf links to carry you through until you get your own copy of the book.
We have a soft-start from 6:30pm–feel free to rock up early and eat your dinner or share a cup of tea. At 7pm sharp we get into the night, finishing each night by 9pm with supper together and an unrushed chat over coffee. OPEN BOOK includes some basic spiritual practices and prayer, before unpacking the pre-reading scheduled for that night.
For each week, it helps to think through how the reading provokes you in 4 ways:
1) Questions: what didn’t make sense?
2) Challenges: what did you think was wrong?
3) Implications: if this is true, what does it mean for being the church today?
4) Applications: what does it look like for you to live out of this vision as part of the community of God?
OPEN BOOK, THURSDAYS 7PM:
February 4 | Community & Growth [CG] #1: Restart Open Book … Exploring the theme by sharing our stories of the good, bad and ugly of Christian community. We’ll bounce off the pre-reading from CG xiii-12 (Preface + Introduction)
February 18 | Community & Growth #2: Unity … CG 13-60 (Ch 1)
March 17 | Community & Growth #4: Growth … CG 104-164 (Ch 4)
March 31 | Easter celebration meal and open conversation … perhaps we could tie in with the Brisbane chapter of L’Arche here?
April 14 | Community & Growth #6: Nourishment … CG 165-204 (Ch 5)
June 9 | Community & Growth #10: Integration toward transformed lives … CG 329-331 (Conclusion)
July 28 | Restart semester 2 with a new book and theme … t.b.a.
Hope to see you there!