Apostolic Spirituality

I spoke recently during the evening service at my church, and I drew upon the idea of apostolic spirituality talked about by Susan Hope in her book ‘Mission Shaped Spirituality: The Transforming Power of Mission’.  In this book, Hope challenges us to find out what happens to us when we become missional in our every day interactions; what happens to us when we simply go.

Apostolic spirituality is the moving away from a spirituality that is focussed on the personal union between God and man, instead focussing on going and being with people in their need. Now, I think both are essential for Christians. We are called to love God, and to love our neighbour. Is it too far fetched to think that there would be different aspects of our spirit involved in these very different relationships? I don’t think so.

Hope writes from personal experiences of how by simply going and being alongside people, she felt revitalised in her ministry and reenergised in her faith. She ponders whether there is a specific spirituality for Mission, and I believe there is. Most definitely. And here’s why…

On 17th January, a lady from church posted on Facebook, requesting items for an asylum seeker who was about to have a baby. I offered to donate a few bits, but it then transpired this lady had more than she needed because of generous donations. The following day, I was walking in town and I happened to bump into my godmother’s husband. I discovered that my godmother was gathering these items to take to this Albanian lady. A couple of friends had offered to cook meals for this lady, so I passed this on to my godmother and she presented me with an opportunity.

This lady speaks very very little English and is on her own in the U.K. Come with me and visit her.

So on Tuesday evening, this week, I went to visit this lady. I can’t use her name, so we will call her Chantelle.

For an hour and a half Chantelle and I chatted, with hand gestures, miming, Google translate and Google images to help. We put together a shopping list, decided what food I could bring for her, and exchanged telephone numbers.

Honestly, I find new social situations hard. I am shy. That is, I worry about social judgments, so I tend to stick to places and people I know. But this year, 2017, is going to be a year of stepping outside those comfort zones; a year of going and being with people in the ups and downs of their lives. Hope says, “What the Church of England could do with possibly more than anything else at present is an adventure’, and I think she’s right. We need to leave our comfort zones, take risks, travel into the unknown, and all of it with God by our side. 

On a Wednesday I visited Chantelle to bring her food, and I calmed her fears about being tired all the time, and fluctuating emotions. We laughed and hugged, and arranged a coffee date for today, so she can meet some more mums and babies. I’m so looking forward to seeing how God works in this sitatuion. That Tuesday evening I could have cried, but I also left feeling exhilarated, as though I should sing loud songs of praise to God. Something within my spirit was awoken by taking an opportunity and going.

Look around you. Where are your opportunities? Where can you go?

“I’m letting go of who I was; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Yesterday evening a friend was preaching at church. I haven’t really attended the evening service since my daughter was born, as it has been tricky with feeding and routine. Yet the service was vital for me to attend. You see, on Saturday my friend told me she was gearing up to throw down a big challenge to the church. Something about that made me realise it was important for me to be there… So I could here this challenge myself. I didn’t want to be like Timothy, and miss out on the actual event. I didn’t want to hear the message second hand.

What a challenge! In a nutshell, what are we doing in our everyday lives to share God’s love? Are we as passionate about the Gospel as we should be? She shared a picture of the church teetering on the edge of a cliff, with a choice: leap off into the unknown and trust God; or step backward into the relative safety of our lives to which we have become accustomed. The title of this post is a line from a song she challenged us to use as a response.

For the past few years, this has been a recurring theme in my life. It’s how I’ve been living for some time, with choice after choice after choice. Each time I have felt that God has been saying, “Go on! Leap! I’ll catch you! But if you’re not ready… Don’t worry!” So I’ve been backing away from that cliff for some time. I’ve not really been ready to leap fully into the unknown, and I’m still not. Except recently, I’ve been hearing God’s voice clearer than before. And his message is different. Now, he’s saying, “Go on! Leap! Even if you’re not ready, even if you stumble, trust me.” Yet I still haven’t quite done it. I still haven’t quite let go.

  

I am living a new life, as a mother. It’s the reason behind this blog: I have a new mission to explore and live out. I’ve had to let go of so much, and it’s all worth it, as I gaze at my daughter’s beautiful, happy, shining face. As I face this new mission, with so many decisions ahead of me, I must lean into God and let go completely. I must leap. I must learn how to fly.