The second Green Christian Way of Life Day was held on Saturday 28th January in St Aloysius Church, Euston, London. We had a gathering of 41 people, a mix of Companions and those seeking to find out more. By the end of the day several visitors had registered as Companions; we now number 29 Companions and 2 Explorers (who, as the name suggests, are exploring the Way of Life).
After welcomes, the Day began with an inspiring talk from Martin Poulsom, entitled Finding our Path and Walking Gently Together. Head of Theology at Heythrop College, Martin is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that specialises in youth work, and is Chair of the livesimply Coordinating Group in England and Wales. Martin is also on the Board of Operation Noah.
Martin reminded us that the first Christians called themselves followers of The Way; there is a deep connection between this early name and the origins of our faith and the Way of Life and its four disciplines, a way of following Jesus. Martin invited us to consider the end of The Lord’s Prayer and how many petitions are in these lines:
And lead us
Not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
Martin initially thought there was only one, then later two – but now he thinks there are three – and this has led Martin to pray in a different way.
‘Lead us’ is a petition in itself – how do I want the Father to lead me? Martin now emphasises the ‘lead’ petition and this has made a real difference in his life. God is leading him, taking him on another step in his way of life and rediscovering the radical. Radical is often understood as bold and new and innovative, but in fact it means rooted. You cannot be innovative and exciting unless you feel rooted, i.e. secure, and it is his faith which helps him feel secure and rooted.
Pilgrimage is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. There is time to share each others’ lives and connect with God. Martin spent three days in November 2015 walking with others on their way to Paris for the Climate Conference – a transformative experience, hearing other peoples’ stories. Pilgrimage is not just about the destination, more about the journey – we are called to be pilgrim people. A pilgrim is one who walks with Jesus in discipleship.
Commitment is meant to free us – being light-hearted and joyful is part of our walking lightly on the earth, it’s a life lived more to the full. It helps to reshape your life, asking who am I at a deep level? We are creatures of God and so we are in fellowship with all our fellow creatures. Our motivations are important, asking ourselves why we are on the journey – what we pay attention to forms us. In the Climate Coalition, the reason for acting and campaigning is “For the Love of…” – we don’t just have to be against climate change, but for climate justice.
Creation is an act of love; God loves me not only because I’m a follower of Jesus. He loved me the moment I was created.
Martin is also an accomplished musician and singer-songwriter. He played two of his songs for us, ending with Turning of the Tide. https://martinpoulsom.bandcamp.com/album/dark-light
After Martin’s talk there was opportunity for questions and discussion in regional groupings, followed by the Way of Life Statement of Commitment, the first time we have shared this together. All visitors were invited to take part alongside Companions.
Lunchtime provided delicious food – brought by all, on LOAF principles – and an opportunity to chat and get to know one another better. Following a Reflection led by Deirdre Munro, there were two separate meetings: one for people who wished to find out more, in which Barbara Echlin, Euan McPhee and Deborah Tomkins explained and expanded on the Four Disciplines of the Way of Life: Daily Prayer and Devotion; Living Lightly on the Earth; Public Witness; and Encouragement; with time for questions and discussion afterwards.
The other group consisted of Companions, who discussed how the first year has gone, led by George Dow, Chris Walton, Deirdre Munro and Tim Suitor. They focused on the practicalities of being a dispersed community living by a common set of disciplines, including how the discipline of Encouragement is working (Companions are in small groups by geographical region). There was discussion of ways of communicating – phone, email, and skype were mentioned, as well as face-to-face contact and larger gatherings – and how to improve and increase this. Chris Walton, Green Christian’s chaplain, is willing to travel to meet individuals or groups. There was also some discussion about how to make the most of gatherings and other contact. Finally there is the possibility of a (closed) Facebook group.
The Day ended with worship.