Sunday, March 04, 2007

QROH: Session 3: Discipleship

Sorry. Would have posted last night but my internet access went kaput.

It has been a long day. This session starts at 8pm and it is heartening to note that the hall is still filled with people. Brian entitled his talk, “Spiritual Formation in Emerging Churches.”

Spiritual formation is defined by Brian as the development of people be, think, feel, work, relate, serve, play…in the way of Jesus. Brian made an emphasis on the play aspect. Living in the way of Jesus.

Brian then tells a story about making violin. BTW, Brian is an excellent story teller. Apparently great violin that produces the best music can only be made from certain wood. These are from trees that have survived a cold season at a certain time period. That is why master violin maker will visits houses built in that period and look for such wood in the attics. This will be the wood from these trees. A master violin maker will be able by touching, feeling and smelling the wood, to judge whether the wood will be suitable to make a violin. His apprentice will be following him and observing him for many years. One day, the master violin maker will turn to his apprentice and says, “You make the violin.” Spiritual formation is like that. We follow Jesus closely until one day we find that we are like Jesus. Like the violin maker’s apprentice, we “unconsciously pick up the art”. This is called “elbow knowledge”, that it has become instinctive. Brian mentioned that his understanding of spiritual formation as “elbow knowledge” is influenced by Michael Polanyi.

He also mentions that spiritual formation is the art of loving in Jesus. This is especially important in a community where must be constant exposure of modelling and exposure to loving in Jesus.

I am impressed by Brian’s stamina. After a 30 hours jetlag, he is still functioning coherently. At least I think he is. Either he is full of grace or he is zoned out. But the fact that he is coherent and still able to tell stories make me think that it is by grace.

Sivin is the facilitator and the conversation partners are Dr. Voon Choon Khing, Dr. Tan Soo Inn and yours truly. The range of conversation covers a large area of spiritual formation and discipleship. It started with an exploration of spiritual formation approaches in the modern context, postmodern, and Asian context. Confucius was included. Then one conversation partner shared about brokenness and formation and another shared about the “dark side” of the church.

This leads to an exploration of being in a church where one has been hurt. A written question about a person who has been hurt in or by a church wonders what he or she should do. The conversation partners were careful to point out that context is important and it is hard to give advice without knowing the context. However, they commented that the person should first talk with someone, talk to God, try to resolve the conflict, and only as the last resort leave the church. At this point, Brian mentions the value of confession in the church. It was an interesting session.

Father Jojo Fung, a Jesuit priest is invited to sum up the session. He gives an excellent summary with an interesting reflection, “I am because we are.”

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