Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Awakening of Hope: Why We Make Promises To One Another, our common practices of fasting and covenant-making

 Notes for our conversation Sunday, Nov. 18, at 9:30 am from the book and DVD series by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, the new monasticism leader. The DVD series focuses on an interview with Jean Vanier about the formation and the practices of the intentional communities of L'Arche for those with developmental disabilities and others. Followed by communion worship and common meal.

The Awakening of Hope: Why We Make Promises To One Another, session two in the DVD series. Chapters 3 and 4: Why We Fast, and Why We Make Promises from the book.

1.     Story of Don and Carolyn Mosely and Jubilee Partners , and Koinonia in Georgia. Gave up life of wealth for creating farm for refugees from around the world, following peace corps days; living on the farm with them. Even being buried with them, and with those  they have been in solidarity with on Death Row who are buried there. The centrality of what we give up for community: the scriptures connect fasting with the Lord’s Prayer; demonstrated it before he began his public ministry.

2.     If eating is central, why is fasting important? “Fasting, then, is not a denial of food’s goodness, but rather a joining of ourselves with God’s longing that there might be food enough for everyone in a world that has been redeemed.” Ways to fast beyond food?

3.     Part of the Rutba House Rule of Life: Fasting on Friday, the day of Jesus death; no food before dinner that day. Fasting reminds us, as does eating, that we are dependent, are creatures, to embrace the finite. Story from Genesis of what we were supposed to not eat.

4.     It is not enough to get out of Eqypt/Rome, etc. We have to get Egypt et al out of us. What do we need to turn from as we turn toward hope? It is not about being Saints. Dorothy Day said don’t call me a Saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.  JWH: To love fasting is not to enjoy pain but to see that it has a purpose. We fast to join our bodies with the malnourished child in the barrio.

5.     Small groups with rules of life and rites of initiation into the community. A community built on promises, while so much of the culture is built on infidelity. We forget our promises, we get distracted, and much of culture seeks to get us to form an ultimate allegiance with it and what it sells and not to our deepest values and vows. Because God is ultimately trustworthy, won’t abandon even when we abandon God and seems like God has abandoned us, we shape lives of promise to one another to embody this covenant.

6.     A history by Ron interlude: Covenant and Not Creed or Contract: Tradition of Pilgrims and free church. Scrooby England 1606 to Cambridge Platform of 1648. What constitutes church in our tradition? Not believing alike but walking together in life in covenants….Our covenants at The Welcome Table. Become more specific? The counter-culture covenant of committing to a place, a people, for life; even though things may change, people may come and go, the commitment makes a difference

7.     “We make promises not because we will always be able to keep them, but because we trust a God who is faithful enough to always help us get up again…The falling down and getting up, as undramatic as it may seem, is what the story of covenant teaches us to see as the most important thing any of us can ever do.” This is how we make grace real; grace is that gift of renewed life that comes to us without condition, except for our ability to be able to receive it….

 Reflection: why is it hard and scary to make commitments to others? What others is it easier to do with? Jean Vanier says there is value in just living together with others; how have you seen that here, what gifts have you received from others?

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