Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Last Sunday afternoon, I was invited to preach at the service at Manchester Cathedral launching the Peregrini Community, on the Festival of the Baptism of Christ. Peregrini draws inspiration from Irish wandering monks and the Anglo-Saxon saints St Cedd and St Chad, who continued the tradition of moving from place to place sharing the love of Christ. Both were sent from Lindisfarne.

What excites me about the new Peregrini Community is their commitment to live by the unforced rhythms of grace (Matthew 11:28 from The Message). As they say in their little booklet, ‘it denotes a series of aspirational statements that, when embraced, will nurture spiritual growth, foster Christian discipleship and enable missional encounter.’

So, here are the 5 rhythms which all begin with ‘By God’s grace….:

– I will seek to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.

– I will be open to the presence, guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.

– I will set aside time for prayer, worship and spiritual reading.

– I will endeavour to be a gracious presence in the world, serving others and working for justice in human relationships and social structures.

– I will sensitively share my faith with others: participating in God’s mission both locally and globally.

Aren’t these just brilliant?

I have been thinking about The Message’s wonderful translation of Matthew 11:28 – living by the unforced rhythms of grace. I love it – but what does it mean?

I think we get an idea of what it means when we look at the baptism of Jesus as we glimpse the wonder of the Trinity. It is by God’s grace we are called to join in with the glorious love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which is a community of self-giving love and joy. The early Christian Fathers used to describe the life of the Trinity as a round dance – a sort of Godly Celidh! It doesn’t matter if we have two left feet for we are all invited to participate. Thank goodness we are not talking ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ expertise here. As David Runcorn says, “it is a dance that is wholly possible because the life of the Trinity is one of pure giving. Nothing is claimed, nothing is demanded, nothing is grasped”.

It is this unforced rhythm of grace that you and I are called into. It is creative, full of self-giving love, and fun. Let’s do it!

It Could Be You

This week Phil discusses community life and what his dream and heart is for Scargill.

I am under no illusion having now lived community life for three years that while it is an incredibly rich experience it is also a very intense one. I can feel great joy and unity one day and later that same week can feel despair and disunity and I’m wondering if this is the same community it was at the start of the week! It is not without reason that the phrase lives shared, lives transformed is central to our rule of life with Jesus right at the heart of this process. We rely on this sharing and transforming. Living in community has a sort of Star Wars feel about it, in the sense that one soon realises that the ‘dark side’ is in all of us.

I was reminded recently of Carolinne White’s introduction to The Penguin Classic of The Rule of life of St Benedict, where she described St Anthony and others like him making the love of God into an ‘extreme sport’! There is no doubt that living on community feels a little extreme. As we are often asked to face difficult situations and some of that is often from within. Yet our community life also gives us the means to grow together. I can probably sum up my dream and heart for Scargill with the words of St Augustine, ‘Love and live it with your life.’ What would that love look like? It would be generous, welcoming, forgiving, accepting with plenty of laughter. The possibility of discovering child-likeness over childishness. A community where people feel included and part of.

In the next couple of weeks some of us will be going to Bose, an ecumenical monastic community of men and women in north Italy. It is set just south of the Italian Alps. When we were last there three words came to our hearts which we experienced through the welcome, food and accommodation. And they were quality, simplicity and beauty. My dream and hope for Scargill is that we may live and move in these gospel words and that our guests would experience them.

Scargill is always in a place of transition and change and we are currently looking for new community members to join the rich, intense, wonderful Scargill adventure. We get a lot of feedback saying the food is brilliant at Scargill and those of us who have been here a while are showing the proof of that! We are currently looking for a new kitchen team leader, who loves Jesus, and would love to experience living in community and of course, loves food. We are also looking for someone to take on the role of administration team leader as well as someone to develop our work with young people and to make use of the wonderful 90 acres we have.

As I write this I wonder if you are the right person for one of these posts or do you know someone who might be interested? For more information you can go here, it would be great to hear from you. Scargill is an adventure and we are looking for pioneering people who are seeking adventure, with a desire for community, with a big heart for Jesus and for people.