It is the lull that is Easter Bank Holiday Monday. Relaxing in many ways, but in others I feel I’m stoking something of a fire in my heart. I think I’ve learned over the years that as soon as you reveal the fire you’re stoking, there will be a hundred who will attend with a blanket to smother it out. The result us that many people live lives of quiet desperation, convinced that their lives are too small to dent the norm.
But, it is Easter Monday! We’ve just spent the weekend reflecting and celebrating the amazing life, death and resurretion of Jesus, the Christ, into whose community we are now grafted through the Spirit. We’re a new people, a new race, a new Kingdom…a Community of the Resurrection!
‘The Resurrection changes everything!’, I declared in my Easter Sunday sermon, but so many of us are stuck in our normalities. Please note that I am not saying anything againts ‘everyday life’ – our working, eating, sleeping, lives – the beautiful rhythm of the every day. I am talking about how our life in Christ illuminates the everyday and charges it with the hope of the Kingdom. As resurrection people, we tend to the presence of God around us and in us, and flowing through us. We become, in the midst of ‘normal life’, the fragrance of the gospel.
Our life in Christ radically orients us towards hope, towards worship, prayer, community, mission, service, and to welcome the incoming of God’s Kindom among us.
Great ideas theologically, but what does it mean practically? I think thats where we become unstuck…the gap between our theology and our praxis. This is where I think patterns from monasticism help us. As I studied Celtic Monasticism for my MA, I was able to articulate again and again the value of community shaped discipleship in an invidualistic world; a contemplative spirituality in an instant world; a commitment to build a new society in the ruins of the old.
And so for me, again, this last Easter Sunday, I renewed my new monastic vows as a Companion of the Northumbria Community. These vows invite me to say YES to AVAILABILITY (to God and others) and VULNERABILITY (before God and in the world) and dare to belive that another future is possible.
The one abiding question I have, which I’d like to live out much more than write a PhD on, is ‘how are communities of the resurrection formed and sustained in the 21st century?’ Monasticism throughout history has always called out for an authentic expression of discipleship in contrast to the contemporary world. Something, at least, needs to do that again lest we perpetuate the very British churchgoing culture which often fails to take Christ’s radical call into consideration.
What does it mean to be a Community of the Resurrection today?