Over the last six months, a group from St Simon’s Kaleen/Giralang/Lawson have journeyed together toward a missional spirituality. The Reverend Tracey Matthews designed a program that provided theological and practical reflection on what it means to join up with God’s mission of healing and restoration in the world; to live out the great commandments to love God and neighbour as one’s self.
The program drew on Elaine Heath’s summation of contemplative mission ‘We show up, pay attention, co-operate with the Holy Spirit and release the outcome’. This attentive presence to God, self and others was cultivated through a range of contemplative practices, meditative reading and reflective action. The group met together monthly and were then sent out to reflect and engage in a missional practice. This included: presence; watching and listening; hospitality; neighbourhood exegesis; blessing others; and connecting with neighbours.
The journey and experience was unique for each person, however there was a common sense of deeper presence to God, self and others. This has allowed participants to become more aware of the Spirit’s work in, through and around them. A number of ideas have been generated that build on existing initiatives at St Simon’s and utilise the passions and gifts of the community.
At a recent combined service, participants described how their willingness to be available and attentive to God and others had empowered them to be ambassadors for Christ. This was a great encouragement to others and a sign of God’s work among us.
Some quotes from participants:
‘The most surprising thing for me has been that in a strange way I have not had to ‘do’ anything in response. I did not have to learn any answers to have ready for people I would meet. What has changed is my awareness of listening to and observing those people.’
‘I have been challenged in my contact with those around me, to purposefully give my attention to them in listening and sharing with them in their situation – to be generous with my time and presence with them, so through God’s grace His love can touch the other and open up ways for them to seek God.’
‘First night I was deeply moved by meditation and coming from the mountain down to city lights. I was overcome because instead of finding a symbol of Christianity I found Jesus waiting for me and he put his arms around me and blessed me.’
‘I was looking in all the wrong places for what I was supposed to be doing in my faith and for God. Turns out he was here all along – right here, in our neighbourhood, in our neighbours and in us – just waiting for me to slow down and look. Paying attention, listening, getting out of the road and letting God give through us.’
‘It has motivated me to take the time to see and value what is happening around me. I am now more intentional about speaking with and listening to people I come in contact with, to try to treat each interaction as worthwhile and each person as valuable regardless of the place they have in society. I’m now sharing more of myself and my vulnerabilities.’
By Reverend Tracey Matthews