Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Retreat: "Speaking About Christ Among Liberal Friends."

I attended a recent retreat at the Morland House in Barnesville, led by Brian Drayton, called "Speaking About Christ Among Liberal Friends."

Near the end of the retreat, Brian asked the question: What are the aspects of the Christ life that are unique and have community dimensions? He answered as follows:

1. Nature of the Gethsemane experience. This is faithfulness without hope, when, like Jesus, you can't see at the moment the end result of your suffering. Drayton also called it "risk taking."

2. Canaanite woman story: In this story, Jesus at first refuses to heal, then is taught by the Canaanite. Drayton called it "teaching by being teachable."

3. Thankfulness--gratitude for blessings. This is not uniquely Christian, but a good thing to infuse into our church or worship groups.

4. The attitude of the footwashing: the teacher serving the student. Servant leadership.

5. The "foolishness" of the gospel: a willingness to follow a leading even if it feels naive or foolish to do so. The ability to risk looking ridiculous.

For living in Christlike community, Drayton suggested:

Following concerns that are prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Practicing conflict resolution. Settle conflicts rapidly.

Affirming gifts. Hold the group in prayer.

If I remember the Abbess's blog correctly, she advocates many of the same things. Now I am curious: What do you think about Brian's list of unique Christian characteristics that can be applied to community? Can you think of others? Do you have practical examples of implementing any of these?


Anonymous said...

I don't think any of the five numbered practices are uniquely Christian. Right off the top of my head, I can think of examples of people doing each of those five things — beautiful examples, frequently retold as teaching stories — from the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Doing what Christ taught us to do, doing it even when it hurts, doing it because of our commitment to Christ — this speaks very powerfully, far more so than any mere words. But it doesn't speak powerfully because what we do is something no one else would do. It speaks powerfully because it allows Christ to speak through us. Or so it seems to me.

Diane said...

Well, yes, I did wonder if these are uniquely Christian practices or if they simply arise out of uniquely Christian stories or narratives.

AbiSomeone said...

Marshall said what I was going to say! None of those five are unique to Christ-followers.

The Abbess, since you asked, would say that it is cHesed as motivator (to hold right attitudes and to respond appropriately) that brings the Jesus Creed to life and makes it more unique. It is the New Covenant Community that lives out cHesed as communitas (so, Hirsch) that is unique ... and I don't see enough of it. I do hear that there are more examples coming into being, and I'm hopeful that CovenantClusters will be one of them -- in God's good time!

Bill Samuel said...

Maybe the question just isn't that good. We aren't to cling to exclusivity. What we need to explore is how to be disciples - which will always include a strong community component. Whether or not what Christ calls us to is unique to Christianity just doesn't seem to me to be the point.