Making Disciples

Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
To love thee more dearly,
To follow thee more nearly,
Day by day.

The Diocesan Goal number one, Making Disciples, from which all the other goals should rightly flow, is a lifelong journey for all Christians Making Disciples - growing as a congregation in maturity to follow more nearly the Way of Christ.


Recommended books:

Personality and Prayer by Ruth Fowke, a psychiatrist and retreat leader, looks at the way our personality types affect the way individuals are best able to pray. It is a book to help you to recognise your favoured way of praying and help you in it, and also it is a great book to read in order to understand how and why other people respond to ways of praying and forms of worship which are all equally valid, even if some may seem alien or off-putting for us compared to our own preferred style.

Other books to be added.

Activities for growing as disciples

And watch this space for the sort of things to help us grow as a Christian community: small bible study groups, at different times of week, during the day or evening; workshops on different ways to pray, on the history and traditions of the Church, the meaning of Sacraments (Baptism, the Eucharist, Marriage, Confession - yes, that one is an accepted practice in Anglican tradition, not just in the Roman Catholic Church - St Andrew's was once a Roman Catholic church, before Henry VIII wanted a divorce and all that!). And we hope to start many more discussions among us about how our Christian faith impacts and calls on us to work out living lives which witness to justice and mercy in relation to ALL of God's Creation in our torn and hurting and seriously endangered world. We need to look hard at our own attitudes  AND actions, in seeking to pursue the common good for local, national and international human society and ecology. We believe in a God who is God of everything, even the malaria-carrying mosquito, so nothing is off the table - money, sex, power, war, and yes, inevitably, politics - a word which derives from the Greek word polos, meaning the people. The word ecclesiastical, and the French word for a church, église, derive from ekklesia, which at the time of Christ meant an assembly of the people in a community to debate and decide on community affairs.

There are going to be some new inititiatives in our pattern of worship services, too, to help to broaden and nourish and, we hope, deepen our response in communal prayer and praise offered to God.

Jesus Christ said, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John ch.14, v.6). The first Christians, after Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension, called themselves Followers of the Way. In seeking to follow Jesus, then, it is not just knowing more about Him more, it is first and foremost a way of living in relationship with him, by learning more to be in him, and allow him to be in us. As Jesus said: " will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you (John ch.14, v.20).

We worship a God of three persons, in Christian revelation and understanding: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So incorporated within the mystery of this Trinity itself, there is an idea of relationship, of mutual and unconditional outpouring and receiving of love. Kenosis, or self-emptying, the theologians who have wrestled with this central Christian doctrine, call it. See Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense by Anglican parish priest and theologian, W H Vanstone. He describes the risk that God takes with this outpouring of himself, because there is no guarantee that the subject of such attention, as in human love, will receive and accept, let alone return it. So God himself, incarnate in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, becomes vulnerable - over and over again.

Phew! That's rather theological. Don't worry, growing in discipleship with Jesus does not require a degree. It doesn't even require you to be able to read, as many of the early converts to Christianity will not have done; since in the first centuries AD, it was such a revolutionary and shocking new upside-down Way in its inclusivity and equality of status in the eyes of God for slaves and marginalised folk. That is where an oral story-telling tradition, based on Jesus' many parables, tuned in to situations and conditions of the time which hearers would recognise (in ways we now don't, without learning about them) but always with an attention-grabbing, response-demanding twist or two, must have drawn audiences. Think the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare's day.Holman Hunt: The Light of the World

Jesus says that we will only see how the kingdom of God works when we hear him with the wide-eyed wonder of a child (Matthew ch.18 v.3). Each of us, privately, within, need to come to be able to answer with a full heart his question "Who do you say I am", the way Peter did: "You are the Christ, the son of the living God" (Matthew ch.16 v.16). And then, with this realisation, Jesus says that our work is principally to believe and trust in him - e.g. John ch.6 v.29.

It's as simple as that - and, embedded in and conditioned by our world and our own natures and nurture as we are, it's as difficult! It's even impossible for us in this world. And that's OK. Better it be a lifelong task to our last gasp, or I or you might get the notion that we are equal to God.

Holman Hunt: The Light of the World

Growing as Christians
Some ideas on how to grow and mature into authentic Christian living