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  • Gosford Anglican Blog

Being Disciples and Finding Hope

As I write, the US election result looms, and Remembrance Day is near. Anxiety is a common feeling at present in our world. The result of COVID, climate change, world political events, and too many social media posts! I attend to these news events and Facebook posts because I am actually looking for signs of hope!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced similar anxieties and fears and even worse realities in Nazi Germany in 1930’s. As a Lutheran Pastor, he stepped aside from the compromised German Church and gathered with others at Finkenwalde until it was closed by the Nazis in 1937. Amongst other practices, he led times of worship and meditation.

I find that I am still learning to meditate. Some days I think I’m getting there and others not! But the teaching of John Main OSB (1926-1982), is helpful. Perhaps more than anyone, Main has helped reintroduce the practice of Christian meditation to ordinary women and men. He learned this through his own journey as a disciple of Jesus, and his rediscovery of the desert mothers and fathers, especially John Cassian (c. AD 360 – c. 435)

These desert teachers, and folk like Main and Bonhoeffer, show us where hope is found. This is where Christian meditation comes in for me. All of us need to be able to stand outside from our ordinary routine for a short time in our day. Of course, we can do this in various ways – quiet music, bush walking, just being silent, swimming and so on. But meditation is also a tried and true way to hope and wellbeing.

Lawrence Freeman (Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation) writes that the teachers of the desert in the ancient church described this faith journey, as the ‘laying aside of thoughts.’ For them this was ‘the essential nature of prayer’ for in this journey of meditation and silence, we consciously enter into the mind of Christ, and the love of God. And this is where hope abounds!

Learning silent prayer or mediation does require discipline – on-going learning through practice, failure, and trying again! This is the down payment toward discipleship and abundant life with Jesus; it starts and is carried along by attentiveness to his story and his Spirit.

In the midweek Gospel Jesus speaks about the cost of discipleship: Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple’ (Luke 14.25-33). The grounding for discipleship is always found through the regular time we spend ‘laying aside our thoughts’ and being silent with our breath and our ‘holy word(s)’ (Like Maranatha – ‘Come Lord’) and being drawn into the graceful life of Jesus.

Through these practices Bonhoeffer found the inspiration and inner strength to live out what he taught before his execution in 1944. His words are encouragement to us today, in our context: ‘Today it seems so difficult to walk with certainty the narrow path and yet to remain wide open to Christ’s love for all people, and in God’s patience mercy, and loving-kindness (Titus 3.4) [also be wide open] for the weak and godless. Still we must remain together or else we will follow merely human paths.’ (The Cost of Discipleship)

Where charity and love are, God is there.

Love of Christ has gathered us into one.

Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.

Let us fear, and let us love the living God.

And from a sincere heart let us love one another.

Where charity and love are, God is there.

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