the greater strangeness

I want to put this here so i don’t forget it, even though it might not make much sense yet.

One of the intentions for those of us working in the new Culture and Context Unit is that our unit meetings will be biased more towards developing a learning community, rather than spending time catching up and listing events / diary dates. As part of our scope is to help develop the conversation within the uniting church that explores how we can be transformative presence in a post-christian world [and that phrase is proof of the need for new language…], we’ll be creating reference points by exploring a collection of articles and books. It falls to me to sort through which articles and books will help us start that process. I love my job.

While reading an article by Simon Barrows yesterday i came across this quote:

The world’s darkness is beyond human explication. What gives us hope is the strangeness of evil encountered by the greater strangeness (mystery) of grace, gift.

For some reason I really love the language of strangeness. There is nothing that makes sense in this.

One of the things i think we want to explore further next year is about being an alternative presence in systems that hold incredible power – the church is one of those; hospitals, prisons, schools are others. These are many of the places that the work of our unit is focussed. I think we need to do some work on understanding how people can be ‘present’ in a system without buying into the power dynamic within it, so that their presence is not defined by the power dynamic [either for or against], but instead is a different kind of transformative presence. When we watch people who work out of that different dimension, the words gift and grace come instantly to mind…

And today marked the day I recovered a tiny moment to get back to thinking about alt worship… it’s been literally weeks since i had the space to focus on that, and it does feel a little like coming home. The following is the draft of a prayer for an advent candle ritual that we’re developing for communities / congregations, which will highlight the prophetic vision of a transformed world, where prisoners are set free, and communities are made whole:

We are so easily mesmerised by the flicker of the flame
and dazzled by the brightness of the lights
that shine in your name

Yet your light comes not to overwhelm
but to illuminate the world around us,
so that we will see the deep cracks and stains
that mark the foundations and walls of our community.

Dare we pray for the faith of advent?
to pray for your coming
even though we know
that we will never look at the world
with the same eyes