Saturday, 18 October 2008

The practice of stubborn loyalty

It's my turn to lead the next meeting of the Bristol Anabaptist Network group. We'll be looking at the second chapter of David Augsburger's book Dissident Discipleship, entitled 'The practice of stubborn loyalty'.

Here are some notes, quotes and questions we'll be considering:

2 Cor 13.14 'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.'

  • Son - Father - Spirit
  • Grace - Love - Community

'In fellowship with God around Christ, we participate here and now in the kin-dom of God.' p.70

'Community... Is a network of fallible individuals and flawed families seeking together to learn how to work through the various issues they carry with them.' (Palmer, 1977, 18-20. Quoted by Augsburger p. 66.

'The church is an alternative community - an alternative to human communities that live by coercion, competition, and collective self interest.' p. 75

'This community of disciples is connected by two powerful attachments - attachment to Jesus, the living centre of the group, and attachment to fellow disciples.' p. 67

But... 'Nothing is real until it is embodied. The community of faith must be a community of deeds. It is in action that we see the conception.' p. 70

Reflecting on our own situations

'The actual community surrounding a person is only one of the multiple communities necessary for this balance of well-being and growth.' p. 77

  • Are we part of Christian communities which, at least in part, embody these ideals?
  • Who, beyond the 'church', form our 'personal community of positive support, celebration, and active participation'? P. 78
  • To what extent do we experience 'accountability and answerability to a balanced circle of co-travellers'? P. 78

Lifestyle issues

'What kind of spirituality is it if it doesn't affect lifestyle or standard of living?' p.60

'How can (we) learn a spirituality of immediate and reflexive concern for the needs of others that seeks to do something about the unjust distribution of resources unless (we) contribute to a community where sharing is meaningful because we agree to consume less, waste less, do more with less?' pp. 81-2

  • How do we make our 'lifestyle' decisions? E.g. Car, home, holidays, career choices, time management, giving...
  • How and in what context might we help each other make these kinds of decisions?
  • What keeps us from honesty about our lifestyle choices?

Building communities

'The persons who make up our sustaining systems are not pictures in an album or names in an address book. They are real, living people who know us and are known in return.' p. 79

Seven characteristics of true community (pp. 79-80)

  1. Interaction and interface
  2. Intensity and involvement
  3. Affirmation and acceptance
  4. Instrumentality and material aid
  5. Mutuality and reciprocity
  6. History and continuity
  7. Depth and transcendence

  • What specific action might we take, to enable the communities to which we belong, to embody these characteristics?
  • How can we find 'spiritual co-travellers who are willing to invest time, give attention, risk self-disclosing, and jointly covenant for a life of shared responsible discipleship?' p. 81

1 comment:

Iain Stephenson said...

All good. The theory that is - just not so easy in practice. But having said that, despite its failings, The Church is the best community i have ever been involved in. It has a reputation for being hypocritical and so on in some quearters, but do you belong to a community that is better? Ever group/club/community i hav been involved in outside the church has more back stabbing, bitching, gossiping and so on. The only reason no one complains is because that is seen as normal!! Praise God for the Church.