So. I’ve been trying to think of how I want to write this post since about mid-service Sunday evening. Shannon beat me to writing her thoughts and if you’re interested in Newbigin, I recommend you read hers as well. 🙂
Sunday, 3 of us stood up and were “interviewed” by a fourth about our experience as part of the Newbigin fellowship this last year – all four of us had experienced that together and each of us in our own way, but I felt kind of silly; the four of us standing up there talking to church about Newbigin – trying to piece together answers that would make sense to people who hadn’t read the same books or sat in on our discussions – and I missed the other 2 members of our group. My prompted interview question was: “What was meaningful and/or difficult about the Newbigin Fellowship” and as I finished speaking and the questions moved on to the next person, I realized how much I’d left out. I took notes on my phone as I took my seat and hoped I could convey in a blog what I meant – I’m better with words written than words spoken – I get just a little more time to think about them and for some reason they come out better….
What made Newbigin Meaningful?
For me, it was the willingness of the group to get together and discuss life – to share life while we did it and to delve into topics that are usually avoided in daily “polite” conversation. Real topics like: “What kind of culture am I making?” ” How is my story reflecting my faith in God” “How do I live that well?” Social Injustice, homelessness, masculinity and femininity, societies world view vs. God’s kingdom worldview, we talked about the sacraments and liturgies that we practice in our church services and why they’re important and why we do them the way we do, and how those liturgies form our weeks and why church is important, but living out of our faith through the weeks and living a liturgy that is consistent with that faith is important too (church is not just an hour on Sunday)…..
It was so meaningful to talk about scripture in ways I had not considered. I grew up in a Christian family and learned the verses and the parables and the morals to go along with each, I was baptized and took communion – All these things I knew were part of it but never linked together why and how.
Scripture: At the silent retreat, about the middle of our time in Newbigin I had taken the daily prayer book that we as a group had decided to follow. Part of the “assignment” of the retreat was to try and focus on our prayer in a way that blocked out all of the daily tasks that would try and interrupt our thoughts – the different ways our mind would wander. The daily reading for that day was Psalm 23 and looking back, I did blog about it here so I won’t retype the experience as it will have changed in the months since I wrote – but basically I read this psalm not only as a promise that God would always provide good things for me. That is true from that Psalm, but what I read was that I needed to have a willingness to be led by a rod and a staff – whipped into shape by God’s faithfulness to me in my own life and to trust that my way was not always the right way….
It was so very neat to think about approaching each day with: Everything (EVERYTHING) Matters to God and so it must to me and to take a “further up and further in” view of the Kingdom of God – if you haven’t read “The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis – or all of the Narnia series for that matter, DO IT – basically, everything here in this broken world is a shadow of what is to come. Being a shadow, we can take care of it and see every part of it as a piece of God’s handiwork for us and a glimpse of what is to come….
I think I was worried that it would be difficult to keep up with reading and to meet every week and still like these friends at the end of our time. It was difficult to keep up with the reading, but it became more and more important not especially to make sure everything was read on time, but to make sure that I participated in the conversations and really listened to what each person had to say. I think the most difficult thing now is that it’s over and I don’t have my Newbigin group to hang out with every Tuesday night – the kids think this is awful too – they got to hang out with their friends every Tuesday night when we met and they’re quite bummed that it’s over – they thought Newbigin was just as much their fellowship as ours and I’m so thankful that that’s how it worked out.
Anyhow, I hope that’s more helpful than my stuttering on Sunday…..
The Newbigin website is here: http://www.newbiginhouse.org/Story
And they do a pretty good job of describing their mission and idea behind the Fellowship 🙂
(And did I mention the wine and cheese?)