Our Episcopal visitor Bishop Richard preached at our commissioning service on September 4th, he said:
As they were going along the road a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have their holes and birds their roosts; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me,’ but the man replied, ‘Let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; you must go and announce the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, sir; but let me first say goodbye to my people at home.’ To him Jesus said, ‘No one who sets his hand to the plough and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ I’m going to follow you! Rather presumptuous!
Reply. No where to rest..
Interesting to consider in the context of a community. After all, the basis of a community is that you have a place to be, to rest, to work.
But Jesus is challenging the notion of being settled. He is challenging the status quo of seeking prosperity and possession. He is telling us to seek a new way.
Benedict understood this and so constructed a rule, a way of life that encapsulates the Jesus programme.
Jan Chittister puts it well:
The rule of Benedict calls for life a conversion. One of the Benedictine Vows signed on the altar is the vow of coverstatio morum, or a promise to take on a lifestyle and values and attitudes that are different from the lifestyle and values and attitudes that permeate the society around us. We are to be gospel people. We are not to be our own Law; we are not to be the centres of our own universe we are not to be unaware, unconcerned unlistening to all the others. We are to be the formers of human community and we are to be formed by it as well. That is the function of authority. Authority is more than the preservation of law or the maintenance of order
.. Authority is the call to growth.
So are you ready to follow Jesus? From his understanding of the gospel.
In real terms it means that the Holywell community will be a place of resource, of growth, of joy and happiness. But it will also a place which will unsettle you and challenge to rethink your lifestyle and realign yourself to the gospel.
For Jesus the urgency of the gospel, of the mission is paramount.
He goes on to say. Leave the dead, and don’t look back. You need to look forward to point to the way to Jerusalem and the hope of grace and growth. To turn back to the dead, to turn back at all then you will be off track, you will be loosing ground and behind. You have the real danger of turning into a pillar of salt, like Lot’s wife.
How true this is for today’s church. Don’t live amongst the dead, and don’t keep on looking back. See Christ working amongst you and follow him to the Father, and to new life.
The fresh season of the Holywell community is an opportunity for all its members to live the the way if Christ, in unsettled joy. To grow as people and to creat a community which is placed in the world but challenges its presumptions. The Holywell community is to be a sign of the gospel, a pioneering base that will encourage and inspire others. We will pray for you as you pray for us.
Let God’s work begin, amen.