Saturday, 23 November 2013

Putting Love Where Love Is Not

St. John of the Cross once said, "Mission is putting love where love is not" - quoted in Michael Moynagh, Church for Every Context (SCM, 2012).

Moynagh makes the comment in the context of the possible means of establishing new context-appropriate expressions of church.  He talks about two particular approaches, the "worship-first" approach and the "serving-first" approach, though is clear that still other approaches are possible.

In reference to the latter he stresses the value of building community as a way in to building church, though recognising that building community has "value in its own right".  As Moynagh comments: "It is what Jesus did as he ate meals with his followers, travelled with them and devoted periods of special time to them." 

We all, whether as a spin off from "regular church", if there is such a thing, or as an initiative in some other way do well to consider how we can build community without, in the first instance, bothering about whether it will become some form of church.  Moynagh suggests: "This might range from a spirituality-at-work group, to hanging out with friends, to a 'Saga group' for the over 50s, to an environmental campaigning group, to a drop-in centre for homeless people, to a regular discussion-over-curry."

I am sure we all know about bits of community building in (and out of) churches around us.  It may be parent and toddler groups, lunch clubs, coffee mornings, messy churches, youth encounters or all sorts of other things.  Let's be ready for the Holy Spirit to move through these things, if that's what God wants to happen - because St. John of the Cross was surely right - "Mission is putting love where love is not."

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