Making the vision real:
We need a vision which connects with our reality.
Connected to what will follow it. Chance to let our action be shaped by what we hope to accomplish. Move towards a vision of what the future might be like. Imagine the future and work towards it.
We need to see how the vision is connected with our reality.
Need a strategy - a step by step route to get us to the point where the vision is made real, or at the very least, closer to it.
And ideally, the vision - or the abundance that the vision contains - has to be made real here, where we are. For us, for those we love, for as many as possible. In practical ways. Material benefits. Beginning now.
We make the connection: three ways at once: three dimensions.
A vision which is not connected to our reality is like a balloon which is not tethered to the ground. Beautiful, moving, a transport of delight, but does not help us move forward in a purposeful direction. Can only be considered in good conditions. Moves forward by drift. Difficult to set a course - liable to be dragged off course by the wind. Vulnerable to changing or extreme conditions.
This form of flight is only viable as hobby or holiday or exploration in certain contexts. Not commercially viable. Too dangerous.
Vision that is not connected to reality is a fantasy. It may provide temporary respite through escapism, but soon loses its power to help us.
Does not mean that we dismiss vision, but rather that along with the picture, we need to offer a strategy to make that vision real, here and now.
Visions that are not accompanied by such a strategy soon lose their power to inspire, move or motivate us, because only action in the present moment feeds us.
Worse, paying too much attention to fantasy distracts us from feeding ourselves. We starve. Lose our tether - mental illness.
Abundant Life for All: The Vision and Purpose of the Church in the Community and the Community that uses the Church
Recap of Principles
1. Source - Abundance - Vision - Food for the Journey
2. The art of abundance is paying attention
3. Abundance is holistic, with infinite potential
4. Pursuing abundance is a Whole-Body process,
5. The enemy is always fear, but we can walk through our fears
The Agenda of the Church:
- to encourage the formation of a vision of abundant life for us - for all,
- to equip people to make vision of abundance real,
- to enable people to walk through their fears
- to encourage everyone to contribute their own visionary ideas to the shaping of a vision of abundant life that is shared, and to set goals, targets, direction accordingly,
- to equip everyone to take action towards making that vision a reality,
- to enable the people to keep going by providing them with nourishment, training, facilities, support and care as necessary.
Encourage the formation of a vision of abundant life for us - for all.
Ask them! Encourage, enable & equip them to ask themselves what their dreams are for themselves as a group. Begin with existing, cohesive, identifiable groups. Use existing preaching, pastoral work, organisational structures.
What does “abundance” and “abundant life” mean to us? (Make your answer personal, practical, material, specific)
What are the ingredients that we share in our dream of abundant life?
How might we pay attention to the dream we share or those parts of it that we share?
If we were to take action to make this real, what would be the first step?
How will we report back to the Church as a whole?
How will we initiate/pursue/encourage a “dream-shaping” process throughout the Church?
How might we pay attention to “Where we are?”
How will we create opportunities to continue paying attention to “Where we are” in the light of “Where we want to be”?
1. Invite the group to define the word or idea of “abundance”. What does “abundance” mean to them? What makes something “abundant”?
Collect the ideas on a sheet of paper .
2. When/where do we experience abundance? When/where do we feel that we have an “abundance”? Collect the group’s ideas. They might include: at home, in marriage, as a family, through friendship, in a garden, at a party, in a gift, in a supermarket, in an art gallery, on my birthday/anniversary, on holiday.
3. Select a “place of abundance” from this list and consider the following questions.
- How is abundance “physical”, earthed in the material world? How does it affect the body? How do we experience it with our senses?
- When we are in such a “place” how do we feel? Does this “place” help us “connect” with others in any way? Does it enhance our relationships in any sense?
- Does it help us think, reflect, learn, grow in understanding?
- Does it inspire us, stimulate our imagination, help us be creative?
- Does it help us remember, store our experience, reinforce our sense of “tradition”, rejoice in all we have received from the past, and can pass to the future?
- Does it give us purpose and/or a sense of our direction in life? How does it enable us to feel an essential part of something larger than ourselves?
- Does it give us a glimpse of the unknowable, the world of spirit, an ultimate mystery?
Not all these questions will be relevant to every example on the list. For example, we may feel that friendship offers us more layers of abundance than visiting a supermarket. If our experience of family life has been difficult, we may be more conscious of the abundance that is missing than the abundance we have received. But the point of this exercise is to notice that our idea of abundance is “holistic”. We experience this quality with different aspects of ourselves, and at many levels, and in our richest moments, we are experiencing several layers of abundance, all at the same time. “Abundant life” enriches us in many different ways - all at once.
4. What makes something “abundant”? Consider your example in the light of the following questions:
a) Is it physically large in size and/or large in scale?
We may think of “abundance” as a description of scale. Some things give us a sense of “abundance” because they are large, impressive, strong and powerful. They take up a lot of space and make a large impact. Examples would be the ocean, mountains, or the night-sky full of stars.
However, size and scale can be paradoxical. Sometimes “big” things can come in small parcels, because they are “concentrated” or “intensified” in some way. The sense of “scale” may not come from something’s physical size, but because it represents a great value, power, depth, possibility or potential, e.g. a baby or a diamond.
Moreover, something can be “abundant” because, although small in itself, it gives access to a far greater potential or larger reality, e.g. Dr Who’s TARDIS or the wardrobe door into Narnia.
b) Is it full of variety and diversity?
Our idea of “abundance” covers variety and diversity as well as vastness. The saying, “You can have too much of a good thing” refers to having too much of a single good thing, e.g. chocolate, or exercise, or work. In fact, we derive great enjoyment from having lots of different good things. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” we say, “A change is as good as a rest,” or “Variety is the spice of life”.
c) Does it give the freedom to choose?
Our idea of “abundance” includes the notion of choice. An abundance is a plenty so great, so varied and divers, that we can choose the part we like best, the elements which suit us.
The power to make a personal choice is crucial to our enjoyment of abundance, though it can be confusing: “There’s so much to choose from, I don’t know where to start”. And if we feel that circumstances or other people have not allowed us our share of the abundance on offer, or have robbed us of our power to choose it or claim it, we can become resentful and cynical. “Nice work if you can get it”“She fell on her feet, didn’t she?”“Its not what you know but who you know.”“What have I done to deserve this?” Behind all these sayings is the thought that someone else’s gain is our loss, or that resources are being distributed unfairly, or that we are being penalised in some way because we are not experiencing abundance, but the lack of it.
d) Does it offer beauty, value, particular benefits?
Abundance implies quality and excellence. It is a “plenty” which allows us to experience, enjoy - or even choose between - the good, the better and the best. Abundance includes the beautiful, the valuable and the excellent. It gives us particular, tangible benefits, which we can appreciate.
e) Does it offer “something more”, something beyond what can be seen, something hard to describe?
Beyond all this, “abundance” suggests an as-yet-unrealised potential. When we think of something as “abundant” we assume that it is actually greater than we can see, even larger than we can imagine. However much we see, the true extent of the “abundance” remains a mystery. We are excited by such potential because we sense that all this hidden potential could become ours, if …….…..