Our Sept Gathering “Wayfinders” was last week and it was a thought-provoking and encouraging time together.
Following on from our previous gathering which has the theme “Leadership in the Liminal”, we identified the fact we are in this uncertain liminal space and with Wayfinders we wanted to go back to basics and see how the bible can help us through.
John and Olive Drane took the reigns on Zoom and spoke about some of their personal experiences and posed some big questions on our approach to new Christian communities which led to rich conversations in our breakout groups.
Day one started with Simon Goddard leading us in a prayerful reflection on Thomas’ doubting of Jesus’ resurrection and the idea that for many, words simply aren’t enough which led to the question about what scenes of scripture were we ourselves walking in. This led us to John and Olive helping us to explore the seasons of change and how the bible is full of stories of liminality. Adam & Eve, were in and out of the garden, Moses was a desert dweller, Esther was a foreigner in a different country, John the Baptist was always on the margins, Jesus had nowhere to lay his head and Paul was constantly on the move.
We discussed the common narrative about modern-day exile and while these stories can move us from denial and despair to possibility and hope, it was suggested that this might be unhelpful and/or misleading because God never abandoned us. This was unpacked by identifying the ultimate liminal space being after the first Easter when the disciples we in the very first lockdown! Liminality is scary, exciting and unpredictable but it is not new!
We moved on to a session about what to consider when using the bible with people of no faith. We started by being reminded that in a post-Christian culture, there are many people who don’t know what the bible is – they have no concept of it being a book or a spoon. We were asked lots of questions about knowledge, intentionality and meaning, the importance of knowing the texts, time spent reading, making assumptions on what interests us versus what interests others, and dismissing seemingly trivial things like chapter and verse numbering. This all continued into conversations about how this book finds itself in some interesting places. ts not just churches and Christian homes, one appeared in the back of a crew tour bus for the band ACDC!
We moved into a time of discussing the keys to understanding where taking an approach that involved critical thinking as important to be able to unpack aspects of translations, commentaries and context and it was the latter which was one of the biggest areas we spent time on. Understanding the context of the scripture from an exegetical point of view is essential but also appreciating that our own modern-day contexts can influence how we read today. Ethnicity, gender, age, location, place in family, culture, and personality were some of these.
We ended day two by taking a step back to look at the big picture and to ask where is God working.
Day two began with Tim Lea leading a short bible reflection and telling us of a time he was preaching on the passage about Jesus cooking fish on the shore as the disciples came in from a night of fishing. While Tim read from the passage his partner was cooking fish on the stage next to him. This led us into a great conversation about how we use the bible posing questions about do we always have to follow the usual format of sermons and what can we do differently that would be more accessible for others.
Olive and John took us back and reminded us that before the printing press, sharing of the bible was an oral tradition and how the original texts, if you could read them, had little punctuation. This posed questions about using the bible in different ways: communally, interactively, as a performance piece. We looked at Mark”s Gospel and explored how some think it was written to be conversational or like a script. We also looked at Paul’s style of writing and how his main audience would have received the letters by way of the deliverer reading it to a crowd. That led to the idea that all our lives are story-based and that relationship-building is based on storytelling.
Towards the end we shared ideas of how to use the bible in different creative ways, going back to Tim’s example of cooking while preaching. We also heard examples from the fx podcast and a wrestling church where they weave the gospel story into the traditional British wrestling narrative.
We finished hearing ideas on how different approaches speak to different people and identifying what is really important.
It was a really great time and we thank John & Olive for their efforts and their time. We really enjoyed wrestling with the questions and ideas posed and it gave all of us lots to consider and continue the journey with.
If you were there, we’d love to hear from you and what you thought.
Check out our other Gatherings in the diary!