Availability and Vulnerability

northumbria-community-logo1I’ve been journeying as a part of the Northumbria Community for a few years now, and 3 of those as a Companion (member) of the Community.  It is a new monastic group, dispersed throughout the UK and the rest of the world, committed to a shared way of life.  I’m just minded of it, because it is around 3 years today since I made my commitment to the community Rule of Life on retreat at Nether Springs.   This is the rule of life we live:

‘The Rule we embrace and keep will be that of AVAILABILITY and VULNERABILITY.’

We are called to be AVAILABLE to God and to others: Firstly to be available to God in the cell of our own heart when we can be turned towards Him, and seek His face; then to be available to others in a call to exercise hospitality, recognising that in welcoming others we honour and welcome the Christ Himself; then to be available to others through participation in His care and concern for them, by praying and interceding for their situations in the power of the Holy Spirit; then to be available for participation in mission of various kinds according to the calling and initiatives of the Spirit.

We are called to intentional, deliberate VULNERABILITY:
We embrace the vulnerability of being teachable expressed in: a discipline of prayer; in exposure to Scripture; a willingness to be accountable to others in ordering our ways and our heart in order to effect change.
We embrace the responsibility of taking the heretical imperative: by speaking out when necessary or asking awkward questions that will often upset the status quo; by making relationships the priority, and not reputation.
We embrace the challenge to live as church without walls, living openly amongst unbelievers and other believers in a way that the life of God in ours can be seen, challenged or questioned. This will involve us building friendships outside our Christian ghettos or club-mentality, not with ulterior evangelistic motives, but because we genuinely care.
Generally, as a community, we renew our vows on Easter Sunday on Holy Island of Lindisfarne, when many members of the community gather up at the Mother House in Northumberland for retreat, but many aren’t able to travel to be a part of that every year, so renewal can be done in the quietness and stillness of the prayer space.  For me, the Rule gives me a framework for keeping my discipleship clear and on track.  It is not restrictive, as you’d expect a regular monastic rule to be…rather, it is provocative: it asks questions and pushes that step further.
Availability and Vulnerability, I hope, shape my life.  Those values are ever before me, especially when it comes the time that I just want to hide away.  But, we also recognise too the imporance of having rhythm in ones life.  There are some seasons where we are more ‘out there’ than others…there are times when ‘the tide is in’ and the tidal road gets cut off on Lindisfarne, which serves as a metaphor for those times of necessary retreat.

In lots of ways my tide is out, as I engage in the regular pattern of ministry here in St Albans.  I guess, however, in a sense, my tide is also in…what I’m doing now is of a different character to what I feel is my main life’s work, the work to which I will one day return.

What are the things that keep your faith in focus?  What prompts you to keep your discipleship alive and fresh, and to keep living out the important questions as we follow Jesus?

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