Over the last dozen or so books, we’ve explored
- the importance of our bodies and imagination in forming kingdom habits (Desiring the Kingdom)
- ways of integrating our faith and everyday work (Kingdom Calling)
- the importance of community in growing up in Christ and reaching out in mission (Community & Growth)
- how we should live our kingdom story as ‘true’ in an age of conflicting empires (Colossians Remixed)
- what it looks like to embrace Christ in a culture pushing Christianity away (Silence)
- how to re-present Christ in a post-Christendom context (Benedict Option)
- ways of stewarding the gift of creation in an ecologically aware age (Laudato Si’)
- how to integrate our life together in worship with our life scattered on mission through practicing “church” (Faithful Presence)
- how we follow Christ and image God as sexual beings (Divine Sex)
- how we can listen to the wisdom of ages past and be open to the ongoing creative work of God today as a “deep church” (Remembering Our Future)
- how accurate self-knowledge–seen through the Enneagram–might shape the way we love each other and our witness to a watching world (The Journey Back to You)
- where is Christ in ongoing global conflict like between Israelis and Palestinians? How might his church wisely serve as agents of reconciliation, healing rather than exacerbating historical wounds? (Christ at the Checkpoint: Blessed Are the Peace-makers)
- What can we learn from traditional Aboriginal ways of life to create real Christian community and a sustainable society in modern Australia? What stories and symbols help us tread lightly and flourish in relationship with God, neighbour, nature and self? (Treading Lightly: The Hidden Wisdom of the World’s Oldest People)
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 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. (Shut out with Corona? Join us virtually via https://zoom.us/j/396017392, logging in any time from 6:30pm for a 7:00pm start … conversation from 7:20-9:10pm.)
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) at Jo Hargreaves’ house (1 Harvey Close, Brookfield) we will 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
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.