In deze bijdrage werpt Roy Searle, een van de twee hoofdsprekers op de monastieke dag in Zwolle, de vraag op wat de betekenis is van de opkomst van de neo-monastieke beweging.
Door Roy Searle
The times they are a changin. Those words penned by the songwriter Bob Dylan back in the 1960s, certainly apply to the changing church and cultural contexts of Europe today.
Change is a paradoxical experience; it presents challenges as well as opportunities, provides the stimulus to engender fear or faith. The chilling winds of change can be threatening but can also be seen as a refreshing breeze that God is using to disturb, change and renew the church.
Looking at church history we can see that periods of church renewal are often preceded by major or significant changes in society. It is often been during these periods of change that monastic movements have been born. From the beginnings of monasticism with Anthony and the Desert Fathers, through Benedictine communities, St. Francis, the Beguines, Brother Roget and the Taize Community and to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, monastic communities have emerged during periods of cultural upheaval. So it should not come to us as a surprise that with the major changes taking place within Europe, God is again raising up renewed and new expressions of faith.
I am very much looking forward to sharing and exploring with other delegates to the conference in Zwolle, the emergence of new monasticism in contemporary Europe. As has been the witness from church history, God has often raised up these new expressions of monasticism for two primary purposes: to call the church back to something that has been lost and to help the church to imagine and explore what living out the gospel means in a changing cultural context.
I want to suggest that among the things that we are being called back to is the imperative of the Great Commandment: to return to the primary call upon our lives, alone and together, to seek God and to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. When we have been captured by the activism, busyness and consumerism which can lead us into ‘managing churches’ with lots of organising programmes and running meetings, it is easy to drift or have our attention diverted from what the monastic tradition talks about as the, ‘one thing necessary‘ the primacy of seeking after God.
There is within monasticism an inherent embracing of the spiritual disciplines. Spiritual formation, the transformation of the heart and a commitment to an intentional way for living, usually with a Rule of Life characterises both established Religious and new monastic communities. Living out the faith where values underpin and inform how we live out the gospel. A vocational way for living that is contemplative, providing both a reflective way of observing and critiquing our own lives, the church and wider society and also a framework that helps us engage prophetically and apostolically with the changing cultures.
I also want to suggest that God is not only calling us back to our first love of him but that he is reminding us of his Great Commandment, to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. This is one of the main reasons why new monasticism is both monastic and missional.
Drawing from the experience of the Northumbria Community I hope to share and encourage people to think about the wisdom that comes from the monastic tradition that can serve the renewal of the church and its engagement with the changing, post-Christendom world.
I will also explore the dimensions of availability and vulnerability, the two core values that are at the heart of the Northumbria Community’s rule of life and how they form a pattern for missional living.
To quote a more contemporary songwriter, Bono: when people are looking for a future they will often try and reinvent or rediscover the past. As we look to the challenges and opportunities of the future, I believe that we can glean much insight and inspiration from the monastic movements, which were the first for some nations of Europe, to share the Gospel.
Roy Searle is een van de stichters van de nieuwe monastieke en missionaire Northumbria Community: een geografisch verspreide gemeenschap van volgelingen van Jezus, verbonden door een gezamenlijke Leefregel van kwetsbaarheid en beschikbaarheid. Roy leeft in de Cheviot Hills in het noordoosten van Engeland, dicht bij de Schotse grens. Hij is voormalig President van de Baptisten Unie van Engeland, lid van het Renovare team in GB en bestuurslid van het Journal for Missional Practice en docent van St. John’s College, Durham University waar hij kerkleiders traint en doceert op het gebied van missionair leiderschap en spirituele vorming. Zijn eerste bezoek aan Nederland was als junior voetballer. Hij reist nu door Engeland en de rest van Europa om mensen en geloofsgemeenschappen aan te moedigen God lief te hebben en te delen van onze overvloed.