Monday, 30 October 2017

Eastern Diocese Clergy Conference 2017: Let Go, Let Be, and Receive the Spirit in All Things

In this season of change and transition for the Church in our society, Bishop Geoff, among others, has recognised the need for our clergy and people to listen more deeply to how the Spirit is forming a new and emerging church. Two years ago he invited The Rev’d Dr. Winston Charles and the Rev’d Carole Crumley (both Episcopal priests and both directors at Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington DC) to come to the diocese and to lead a clergy conference on the practice of deepening contemplative prayer - listening for Spirit not only with our thinking minds but also, and more importantly, with our deeper spiritual hearts. The encouragement and experience of deepening contemplative prayer at that conference resonated so well amongst the clergy, the Bishop invited Winston and Carole to return to the diocese and lead another conference this October past. In addition to encouraging deepening contemplative prayer practice, this second conference was also about intentional listening from our deeper spiritual hearts as to what the Spirit is doing in the emerging church during this time of institutional transition and change. In the context and practice of contemplative prayer, the invitation in the movement and flow of the conference was: i) to let go of that in the church’s life that is no longer relevant or meaningful to our mission; ii) to recognise and name that which still has value and meaning and can be carried forward with the emerging church; and iii) the church is the Spirit’s work, not ours, so how can we listen more deeply for what Spirit is doing, to co-operate and “receive the Spirit in all things.” Whatever it is that is unfolding in the church and in our society, God is in it - “Christ is all and is in all” (Colossians 3:11). The Spirit’s call on the church, the people of God, is to listen more deeply to what Spirit is doing, to trust deeply, and to lean into the mystery of what is emerging. This is to admit that we don’t know exactly what we are doing, but that we recognise the invitation to surrender our thinking mind’s need to control and manipulate, and, through deepening contemplative prayer, to open up to our spiritual hearts - the very Mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) - and surrender to the moment by moment flow of Love’s Life amongst us and as us. I don’t know what tomorrow’s church will look like, but I am ready to Love my way into it. That much I do know.

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