The Feast of Pentecost
Living Out Your Fourth Day: Bloom Where You’re Planted
Canadian Anglican Cursillo National Conference And
General Meeting Edmonton, Alberta, 4 June 2006
as presented by the Rt. Rev. Ken Genge
Song: Bloom where you’re planted
You know this prayer… Please join me as we pray,
Prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of the faithful
And kindle in us the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created,
And you shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit,
Did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
Grant that by the same Holy Spirit,
We may be truly wise,
And enjoy God’s consolations.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen
Greeting and thanks for the opportunity to work with you today. My responsibility is to look into that ever new day called “the fourth day”…The “transplanting” from the hot-house atmosphere of the a Cursillo Weekend into the climate of every-day life. The imagery is easy to talk about; the actual living of that life is – as you all know – a much greater challenge.
I am going to focus on two passages of Scripture, both from the New Testament. The first is John 14:1-15; the second is Luke 2:46-55. (And probably referencing some others….)
These passages from the New Testament describe, among other things, the real environment in which we live and move and have our being. Our faith works in the real world – or it does not work at all…! (John 3:16-17)
We begin with an invitation – the most important “invitation” we shall ever receive. It is not an invitation to position, power, control, or authority!!
1. Mobile Christianity
“Follow me.” – an invitation to a journey, a pilgrimage, not to a destination…”Truth” cannot be objectified, tamed or domesticated….cannot be denominationalized, or trapped in one particular faith expression. “Truth” is a living, continuing, creative “Way”…a way of life…a way of diversity…And for me, a Christian, it is a “Way of Jesus”.
John 14:1-15 ….”many dwelling places” The “places”, the rooms, are not all the same – The variety is far beyond what “we can ask or imagine” – far beyond all creedal or doctrinal boxes…..“prepare a place for you” – Just as you are, with no hoops to jump through before God loves you (and me) unconditionally…..” You know the place where I am going”….Thomas: How can we know the way to place we don’t know??……Jesus! Thomas says, If we don’t know the destination, then how are we to know the path??
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”…. At all times Jesus deflected focus from himself to God. And each of those three magnificent, challenging, words are always in motion, ever looking at a new horizon….The Way = journey, a direction in response to the invitation, “Follow me.”……The Truth = never to be domesticated! always sought as we respond to the invitation, “Follow me.”….The Life = obvious change, at every level of our being….
How do I/we see God? By knowing Jesus….Faith and works….In fact, “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father….If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”…..This is not a call to personal glory or position or power, or authority, or control!…..But to what we refer to in Cursillo as “Fourth Day Work”!! The “Saviour Syndrome” is not what Christian Mission is really about….!!
Let me refer to a couple of other well-known Scripture passages. The Letter of James 2:14-18 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” That passage describes in a challenging way the real world situation of the 4th Day! Struggle with the relationship between “faith” and “works”. The Weekends are designed (if authentic) to introduce each of us to this dynamic tension as we live the rest of our lives in the “fourth day”!
Micah 6:6a & 8 “With what shall I come before the Lord….? He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” As Christians, we, together and individually, are called (“Follow me.”) to effect systemic change in our environment, not just to apply band-aids.
Mobile Christianity is not a matter of “having it”, but rather of “doing it”
2. Realism Christianity
(Infiltration): Why don’t people go to church?….What
keeps a huge percentage of our population away from church, away from the faith community? The front line of the Jesus expedition(to love and to build up) is not in church or on a Cursillo Weekend – but the front line is in our leisure time, our family time, our work time – very mobile. Yes, there are resting moments (retreats, both formal and informal)
Be good students of Environment realism: – ethnic groups, cultural groupings, youth groups, seniors groups, & different age, ethnic and cultural groupings in between – and differences in each, of course. Differences – that is the operative word. Christian Realism takes seriously, without moral judgment, the way things are in the world – the world that God loves so much! The only redeeming equipment we have is LOVE….
A Little Group Work for a Few Minutes: (Using the old J.A. motto, or goal or aim, 5 simple but profound words) 1. pick the one that attracts you the most; Why? 2. Pick the one that is most difficult for you; Why? Share briefly, each in turn, with the others in your group – giving each person a chance to speak without interruption…)
*LEARN* *PRAY* *WORK* *GIVE* *TELL*
There is no “correct” response to this exercise. It is simply a 5-word framework that can be used as personal check-up – and it is a very useful tool, also, to in the larger parish life…Obviously the relation and interaction between these dynamic words is a mixed rhythm back and forth… I give them to you to use as you will in your own 4th Day life.
3. From another perspective….
A little story from my time at St. George’s College, Jerusalem:
Palestine/Israel experience – River Jordan ecstasy (describe the person unable to leave the water of the Jordan…But it was time to get back on the bus…! Refer to the Weekend habit of suggesting that the candidates remove their watches…Great, but remember that all time is God’s – both kairos AND chronos…; walk where Jesus walked – But can’t quite pin him down to a particular location….Why? The Ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:6-11) gives us the clue…. Don’t stand around gazing into heaven! Get on with the works of faith…
Now, let’s step into the garden… (Bloom where you’re planted…)
Different plants produce different seeds What for? Beauty and Nourishment – true of nature, and true for human nature
Difference between a real rose and a fake rose: If the fake is very good, it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes…”Gullible” Christianity is stupid Christianity!!
“Bloom…” 5 reality checks: – type of soil; type of seed; time of year, fertilizer, weed & pest control… All this “gardening imagery” demands some analysis of the environment… (Briefly reflect on each…) One size – or one seed… – doesn’t fit all! Variety!! But each seed = the beginning of resurrection….
Cursillo is not the weekend! Test of what really happened on the weekend is what happens in that 1st week following the weekend, and then the 3rd week, and then the 6th week. It is the responsibility of sponsors and Secretariat to check the health of the new “fourth day” in a pastoral, non-judgmental way following each Cursillo weekend.
“Follow me.” – on the move, not a destination
Another Brief Group Exercise: Which of the following three images best describes your experience of the Church – a donut; a fortress; a puddle. Why? A little fun…recount the story of my Uncle Fred: the centre of the donut is very dangerous; don’t eat it!! Of course it’s empty… ; the sadness of the fortress is that it is designed to keep the unwanted out… ; the puddle dries up, and drought follows…. It does not take a lot of imagination to see through the eyes of the world (or our eyes, perhaps?) what the church looks like to the many who do not seek the community of faith…And perhaps, as we be honest, the way the church looks to us, too….
I’m going to conclude with the challenge of Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55).
The Magnificat – to do with the environment – our mission field – our place – in the world – the place we really are, not some place or situation we would like to be – bloom where you are planted…
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” (use the illustration of the magnifying glass….Very conscious of the magnifying glass – until we get focused; then the magnifying glass is forgotten – why? Because it is doing its mission – It is doing, if I may say, its 4th Day ministry.)
“and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (This is not arrogance on the part of Mary. It is simply acknowledging that she is beloved by God, and not worried about worthiness…)
“His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” (Sometimes we get hung up on the reference to fearing God. It is often referred to as some sort of faith space to be desired……But consider this: God is merciful to those who have any kind of fear – even the fear of God! The 4th Day is not about a faith that fears God, but rather a faith in action that demonstrates in thought, word and deed the love of God for the whole world – and love that introduces a faith that removes all fear…!)
“He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. ” (And this without violence, righteous or otherwise…!)
“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”
“He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendents forever.”
I cannot live the fourth day alone! Nor can you. Everything I have said is about community of servants. For my and your ministry to function, we need each other….The “fourth day” is lived in the vulnerable and dangerous open country of the world that the world describes as the “real world”…That’s the “environment” in which Jesus lives and moves and has our being….
Bloom where you are planted…
And a little story to conclude: Large window in St. Barnabas, St. Lambert, Diocese of Montreal….Only made sense as one viewed it on the way out of the church….”Come unto me”…..
Song: “Draw the circle wide”
4 June 2006 Edmonton, Alberta