God’s nature and purpose - Abundant life.
Jesus’ preaching, life, mission and passion.
Spirit creating abundant life.
Combination of vision and strategy that engages the whole person, whole Body. Operates over multiple dimensions. Enables us to align ourselves with, and collaborate with, the Spirit of our Creator God.
Communicate vision and deploy strategy in compassionate, generous manner that not only inspires others but motivates them to get involved in the process with us, and enables us all to stay with the process over a long period of time.
Challenge to live with open boundaries. Keep lowering the threshold and dismantling walls as they are erected, reducing our defences, setting aside our masks. Keep abundance visible, available to all, accessible to all, open-ended. Love never ends. Enable anyone and everyone to see the abundance, claim it for themselves, learn how to make the abundance visible for others so that they can go on to claim it and make it visible for others too. Demonstrate that again and again, in all sorts of circumstances and for all sorts of people.
The School of Faith:
Jesus had developed a body of teaching - a vision and a strategy - which was coherent and consistent, formed of interdependent principles and ideas. The apostles had proved that it was also self-supporting and self-replicating. The more they practised his Way of faith, the more it fed them and the more they learned how to apply it to every situation they met. The more they learned to apply it, always and everywhere, the more that Jesus’ teaching - Jesus’ process - Jesus’ Way - became independent of Jesus himself. It could be passed on from one person to another. It was let loose into the world. It developed a life of its own.
And if they met a situation they could not handle, then the way of faith itself could teach them how to respond to their difficulties. - its own principles could be taken deeper to cope with that. Taken down to another level. Passion.
It sounds simple. Perhaps too simple. But God is simple. The trouble is that human beings are complicated. We live complex lives in a complex society and an even more complex cosmos. God’s divine simplicity becomes complex in relating to the whole creation and everything within it. And the Gospel of love and grace engages with and embraces this complexity in a manner that is holistic, collaborative, dynamic, expansive, inclusive and open-ended. So we work with the Gospel as multi-faceted individuals living in multiple, over-lapping relationships within a vast and various universe. God intends us to apply the “way” of Jesus to every aspect of who we are, to every aspect of who we are together, to every aspect of who we are, together, in creation.
So while, yes, the process is simple, its simplicity is that of an all-purpose tool - like a staff, a knife, a pen, or a brush - a tool that can be used for any number of purposes in any number of ways. The tool is simple, but applying it is complicated. Part of this complexity is within ourselves: the struggle to co-ordinate body and mind so that we achieve what we want to achieve. But a large part of this complexity is outside us - in our circumstances and context - not least the fact that everything is on the move.
Applying a simple tool to all this complexity is so challenging that we are tempted to ditch the tool. But we can choose, instead, to practise using the tool until it feels normal and natural, until the tool has become an extension of ourselves, until we know how to use it always. Anywhere. Everywhere.
Need for discernment as to where it should be applied. He also tells them that where they are welcomed, they are to stay until they leave, but if they find they are not welcome they are to “shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
However, persistent danger that as time passed the power of this vision to feed them and inspire them would dwindle. Demands on disciples heavy. Crowd expects us to provide an abundance to feed them. Everyone wants a piece of us. The ferocity of the forces ranged against Jesus would erode it still further. Eventually, if it outlived him at all, it would do so only as a fantasy, rather than as a personal, practical, material, specific, life-giving experience.
1. A) Know the way to the Source of life. Show us where the abundance can be found. Pointing to it. Know what gives life and how life is given. how to make something life-giving. a clear vision of what we are turning towards and how that will benefit us. drawn, elaborated, developed, refined and renewed. use our imaginations, translate vision into our circumstances, change the way we think, the way we feel and the way we behave. learn ways of creative thinking following the promise of abundance/abundant life ourselves, allow that journey to fashion our ministry.
1. B) Knowledge that the “treasure” is abundant life in a form that makes sense to us, in a form that is personal to us, in a form that makes a practical difference to us, in a form that improves our lives, that enables us to live life to the full. Know how to show people the treasure so that it looks like what they’re searching for, abundant life, good news, life-giving.
1. C) Know the tool which makes the treasure accessible. Acceptance. Thanksgiving. Action. Persistance. how to ensure that it gives them life, enable them to live to the full. Demonstrate that engages with hunger, sickness, grief, trouble and anxiety. Ability to deliver. To set people free from forces too strong for them.
2. Knowledge of the crowd - why they are drawn to the market, why they are searching, and what they hope to find. Know why the feast is rejected.
3. Pastoral leadership: Therefore know how the multitude will be fed. Getting the group to the place of abundance. lead the flock so that they are fed and until they are fed.
low threshold to enter the Way of Jesus. Graded way. Caring for all of them along the way. how we can engender life in others. Anticipate their responses/needs. Go to meet them. How they will struggle, prepare a way to make it easier for them. demonstrate commitment to saving everyone, not just the strong, the young, the adventurous or the few. And to show the group how this will be done, so that every member can grow in confidence - in themselves, in one another, in the leader who guides them and God who will give them a future.
4. Locate, identify and assess resources, whatever the environment. how life is generated, sustained, enlarged, magnified. how to use resources available to transform life-draining situations into life-giving ones. Regular input of life - our daily bread. How to be active partners with God in the process of generating good things; by paying attention to the resources we receive, deploying them, investing them, investing in them, magnifying them and bringing them to fruition and fulfilment.
5. Not monopolise the abundance ourselves or control it too rigidly. Ensure it is distributed for the benefit of all. Feed on the process, rather than the results.
6. Know how to offer a depth of care to people without becoming utterly drained ourselves. Know how we are fed, personally - by our work, and by everything else. What it is that is life-giving, draining, and enough vitality in it. Life-giving in as many ways as possible, most important ways (practical, relational, imaginative, satisfying, purposeful, spiritual) Vital.
7. creating a safe place in which to start. A safe place for ourselves. Allow ourselves space to define ourselves/discover how God affirms us. Allow God to meet us and set us free. Work through our fears so that we are not bounced by demands or fears of others. our dream, reasons for saying yes. Sense of who we are, where we are going, what we should be doing. Do what you can. What you are called to do. A narrowing road. Something smaller. Leave the rest to God. God has it all in hand. Trust that this is so, and let your heart and mind rest. Helps us learn to say no without feeling guilty. Also helps us avoid defining the crowd by their demands on us. Learning that we can have faith & how to have faith. Choose faith, rather than fear; to invest in life rather than death care for ourselves so that we stay on the road.
8. Affirm one another in times of adversity, waiting, helplessness as well as action and creativity. Sense of inadequacy: an appropriate humility before God and the people, or from a lack of self-worth? Choose faith, rather than fear; to invest in life rather than death. What is remarkable here is not just the fact that Jesus had a different perspective, but that he kept faith with that way of seeing things until it did become true.
was able to repair, renew and sustain this alternative perspective, even when he experienced setbacks and adversity; even when the situation deteriorated; even in the face of death. when circumstances are abrasive, so that we move towards abundant life
Able to go on seeing the abundance in a situation, person - see abundance “always and everywhere” Sustain a living hope will fade away or become distorted or corrupted if we not have anything in our existence which feeds us here and now.
9. Challenge one another to take responsibility for our choices, fears, baggage, pain, rather than denying, evading, blaming or projecting it. Jesus persistently returned their attention to their own thoughts, words, choices, decisions and deeds. Muddled boundaries God’s work/our work take responsibility for what is our role in this. God gives responsibility to us. We must exercise it. God will do his part if we do ours. Our hands give the Spirit substance and fashion the energy of God into forms which match the need of the world. Reflect on the creed that counts: that governs our actions, especially at moments when we are weary, confused, unhappy, stressed, ill or simply caught off our guard. Consider how we might make a more constructive and creative response. How exercise our own faith, in a manner which builds the confidence of others
10. How to walk through the fears which prevent us “acting as if” the vision is true. Have faith, know how to believe. Take a path of steadily heightening/deepening trust. The capacity to persevere, to endure, to stay the course, is a skill we must learn. Otherwise, it is all too easy to become like the seeds sown on rocky ground: “when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away”.
11. How to work creatively with colleagues. So that we can work with others. Effort, patient negotiation to ensure Alignment between our dream and the dreams of others. So that there can be coherence of goals and aims, and the energy coalesces. Worth it, but takes time and commitment on both sides. Network, reinforce connections to establish bonds of trust, and sustain that trust. Sacrifice our pride rather than the principles of love, generosity, trust, grace.
12. How to pay attention to reality, do justice to the full range of human experience,
to keep on doing so, day by day, do so in a way which takes us forward.
13. How do we ensure that the dynamic/ change is creative? Given that energy is a resource that can be used for ill as well as good, and that human ingenuity has so often served ignoble ends, how can we make certain that the Way fosters compassion, faithfulness, generosity, hopefulness and all the good that God can desire? Confidence is generated by a process and that process begins with a vision of abundant life. We can learn the process. We can practise the process. And in doing so, we turn away from the dynamic that generates tension, destruction, fear and death, and foster the dynamic which generates light, love, creativity and joy. We choose life. Abundant life for all.
14. Lord’s Suppers. Eucharistic Prayer as a means of facing all this and working through it.
There are many images which help us visualise the infinite resources of God but the Feast of the kingdom is the most important because it is the most basic. One reason why the Last Supper is so significant arises from the fact that it weaves this image into the terrible hours of Jesus’ Passion, when he was increasingly isolated, tormented and tortured. Even in the knowledge of what is happening, and what is about to happen, Jesus turns the minds of his apostles towards thoughts of God’s abundant life.
The meal, which takes place on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, occurs in hiding, amidst an atmosphere of secrecy, or, one might say, mystery, as if it is already a sacred rite. But having shared bread and wine with the twelve, and having warned them that one of them will betray him, Jesus directs their attention towards the time when their feasting will be consummated: “Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14.25).
It is as though he is saying: “Look, this is a time of suffering and struggle, pain and sacrifice, when our hearts are heavy and it seems as though all our dreams of plenty and peace are being denied. But God is greater than we know, and even in this moment, we are being given life, and invited to share it. In this faith, I have lived, and keeping faith with this hope, I go before you. All that I need - and all that you need - to endure this time, is provided and will be given. God will satisfy you, and lead you to a life that is beyond your imagination.”
 Mark 4.16b-17