My mind took me back to my teenage and early 20’s when my Church regularly held Sunday evensong. Then I received Derek’s phone call, so here I am for at least one valued experience. I have been ordained for 44 years now having been raised in the boom years of the 50’s and 60’s.
What has been highly characteristic of this period of Church life has been the steady and consistent decline in church membership. It has been challenging and stimulated many questions, not only for myself but across the Church. Many suggestions have not arrested the decline.
On reflection, I do not regret that, for ministry - lay and ordained is about faithfully walking in whatever the circumstance.
A NEW WORLD
On the other-hand, throughout these same years the change across world has been as enormous as any change. The world is now stiflingly global. I am not unhappy, for these years have moulded and refined the human outlook. I have taken seriously the challenge of globalisation.
It cannot be stopped, but it can be shaped. I look forward to making my contribution in the years to come. (I’m planning for 20 good years with my fingers crossed.) Over the years of ministry my once conservative approach to faith has changed. I now refer to myself as progressive for Christianity in the globalised world, must be addressed for the sake of the Church and the human race.
In case you wonder where I am heading, let me return to my initial dream of finding the opportunity to worship occasionally in the reflective mood of Sunday Coral Evensong. How do we hold both very traditional practices of worship together with some of the most contemporary?
KEIREN JUPP AND PETER FLANAGAN
I have found in my search to understand the emerging shape of the world over the last decade one helpful book. It is a sociological survey by Flanagan and Jupp, called Sociology and Spirituality. In tracing the broad range of spiritual experiences in which they identified people participating in.
They summarised five categories.
Three outside the church...
- The Asian traditions
- The New Age type experiences
- The Wholistic movement
Then two inside the church...
4. The Innovators (Meaning the newer contemporary versions), and last but not least,
5. The Reclaimers (They were people who continued to feed upon the traditional practices.
I’m sharing this picture because with the globalising world we are living in a time of great confusion. There is a great deal of conflict between differing approaches. This fragmenting world is placing the world in a precarious state of affairs.
I have personally gained, learning of the vision of numerous writers who believe the global community requires, not necessarily uniformity, but respectful dialogue between the many jig-saw like parts for an expansive understanding.
Raimon Panikkar is one such contemporary mystic theologian, who has written significantly on the Christian vision of this one world of God. Living in such unity is the planets future hope. On the other hand, the gospel encourages us to see the such unity in diversity, is the path to the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
I return to the Jupp Flanagan sociological survey. There may be many other movements of the spirit, whereas many no longer find a place for the traditional. Panikkar’s integral vision affirms not only new movements, but the importance of some continuing the traditional practices, such as Coral BCP Evensong.
It has something rich to be moulded into the future call of the spirit.