convergence (n.) – the arrival at a common point of various different streams or lines
I guess you’ve heard people say ‘oh, it’s great when it all comes together.’ Pretty common thing to say. I mean, we love it when the plot of a crime thriller arrives on the last page or when the Kat and Alfie get themselves sorted again or when the meeting goes right or the cake looks like you wanted it to. We tend to like things coming together.
I spend a lot of time pondering why it is so easy for Christians to spend so much time worried about how orthodox they are. And, in my more stupid moments, I spend time wondering ‘if I do or say that, how will that stream of friends view me?’ You know what? It’s hard work. It is hard work when you no longer see the need or have the desire to see things from one point of view.
At the heart of life and faith is Jesus. He is the one around whom things should converge, come together. So long as something takes us there, we might just want to embrace it in order that we might learn. None of us possess Jesus or the whole truth. It’s when we take the space to look at him from different angles we begin to understand.
The main streams of faith I find myself looking at these days are as follows:
– evangelical – this is how I was ‘discipled’, taught to have an appreciation of God’s word and the centrality of the Cross
– charismatic – my experience of God, from the very beginning, was Spirit-filled. Spiritual gifts ‘happened’ to me before I knew about them.
– sacramental – from the Salvationist view point of seeing life as a sacrament, to the growing awareness of God as mystery in many things
– liturgical – there was a day when I wouldn’t have thanked you for a bit of liturgy, but these days I am often caught by the poetry and creativity of meeting a wild God in a set prayer.
– celtic – an earthy, practical, Trinitarian and realistic spirituality with an eye for art, colour and imagination
– contemplative – so much of my prayer life until recent years was 100% intercession, asking for stuff, pleading for stuff…its a wonder to sit in the presence of God, to become aware and allow the transformation to take place.
– activist – at the end of the day, religion that the Father loves is one that ‘takes care of widows and orphans’. A Matthew 25 approach to life and religion.
All these things have so inspired my Christian life and it really feels that it to cut one of them off would be to cut off a limb, an artery. I wonder what you might add to the mix?
As I’ve arrived in Advent this year, I’ve come in aware of how easy it is to lose your focus. Spiritual life can be a pain to maintain. Keeping the disciplines required isn’t easy, and yes grace is always a gift, but grace is never an excuse for neglect. Rather, it is the force that picks us up and sets us back on the path.
One of the habits I want to avoid is the blocking up of streams. I want to experience a relationship with God in all its fulness whilst allowing imaginative awe in recognition that there is so much I don’t know. You might call it spirituality without walls. As I go through this ‘lowering mountains and raising valleys’ time, I hope I can call my attention to just that.