In our first cycle for 2020—“For the Life of the World“–we discover the difference it makes to realise God’s presence pulsating through all things. (Share page: https://padlet.com/david_benson/OpenBook.)
This four-part series is centred on Alexander Schmemann‘s classic work of Eastern Orthodox theology, For the Life of the World ([FLW] 1973 or 2018 version). Following on from our exploration of ritual at Open Table (Feb 21, 2020), we dive into this beautiful vision of how to worship in a secularised age shorn of transcendent meaning.
The church does not exist for itself, isolated from the world. Rather, it is a sacrament … a visible sign of an invisible grace … blessed by God as a foretaste of his universal and loving reign, existing “for the life of the world”. (While separate from this study, the DVD series of the same name, aka “Letters to the Exiles“, was heavily influenced by Schmemann’s theology, and is well worth a watch.)
Such a vision calls for a practice of gratitude–seeing all things as charged with the glory of God–as bearers of his presence and portals to experiencing heaven-on-earth.
While this isn’t a familiar perspective to many Protestants (like me) who prefer a giant ontological gap between the Creator and the Created, this book beckons us to see afresh that in the divine “we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). And this, truly, is a gift.
So, join us at Jo Hargreaves’ house, 1 Harvey Close, Brookfield, 6:45pm for a 7:00pm start, as we fuse liturgy that satisfies all five senses, rich book discussion, and transformative practices to live what you read.
This series is animated by this question:
How do we live everyday immersed in God’s presence, the church being a gift given for the life of the world?
Over 4 Thursday sessions (March 5 – April 16) virtually as we dialogue with Alexander Schmemann’s For the Life of the World [FLW] and each other, discovering a sacramental spirituality, where our worship inspires the world.
We have a soft-start from 6:45pm—feel free to rock up early and eat your dinner or share a cup of tea. At 7:10pm 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: what wisdom does this offer for worship in and for a secular age?
4) Applications: how might this help us be the church as a gift for the life of the world?
OPEN BOOK, THURSDAYS 7PM | Schmemann’s
For the Life of the World (FLW) | Join us virtually direct zoom link here (or via https://zoom.us/join with Meeting ID 333262992 and Password = openbook) + Share page: https://padlet.com/david_benson/OpenBook
March 5 | FLW I, pp. 7-22, 117-134 (Preface, Ch. 1, Appendix 1): The Life of the World + Worship in a Secular Age
March 19 | FLW II, pp. 23-66 (Ch. 2-3): The Eucharist + The Time of Mission
April 2 | FLW III, pp. 67-94 (Ch. 4-5): Of Water and the Spirit + The Mystery of Love
April 16 | FLW IV, pp. 95-116, 135-151 (Ch. 6-7, Appendix 2): Trampling Down Death by Death + And Ye Are Witnesses of These Things + Sacrament and Symbol.
PS – While still t.b.c., the following series will explore how to share the good news of God’s reign (i.e., evangelism/witness) with a post-Christian generation prone to deconstruct religious jargon, the transcendent, and empty optimism. Check out Charles Ringma’s book, Finding Naasicaa: Letters of Hope in an Age of Anxiety (2006) from Amazon or Regent College’s bookstore. This will likely be a four gathering study on Thursday nights: April 30 (possibly with pot-luck dinner for first discussion), May 14, 28, June 11, Location t.b.d.