What speed does God move at? That is the question we were asked to ponder during the seven week course “Live Godspeed”. The title comes from the theologian N.T. Wright who explains that as God came to us in the incarnated Jesus in first century Galilee, God’s speed is a walking pace. In other words we need to “slow down to keep up with God”, to live our lives in the moment and to be present to our surroundings and the people around us in a way that isn’t possible if we are swept along by 21st century hurry and anonymity.
The course challenged us to examine our lives and the ways in which we were not present to God, each other and our communities. Do we take the time to see other’s virtues as well as their faults? Do we feel that we “belong” to where we live, are we truly known by those around us? Do we feel like pastor and theologian Eugene Peterson that “there is no place on earth without the potential for unearthing holiness”? How can we practice stability in our modern, transient society and re-humanise our towns and cities?
The Bible has many stories which examine being known and present: from the Genesis account of Adam and Eve in the garden hiding from God and choosing not to be known, to Jesus being present with people that society didn’t even consider worth acknowledging let alone being present with, such as the Samaritan woman described in John’s gospel chapter 4 verses 4-26. In fact the story throughout the Bible is of God with us, culminating in His ultimate presence within our flawed and messy world through birth, life, death and resurrection in the human person of Jesus.
Those of us who attended the original Godspeed Course have been trying to live the lessons learned. We are exploring mindfulness, vulnerability and being fully present to God where we are and in the body we have. N.T Wright says that it is useless to complain about our rushed and shallow culture but that as Christians we must subvert it instead. We can do this in so many ways-by taking the time to learn somebody’s name, or even just smile and make eye contact in the situations where it is so easy to say “I haven’t got time”;“it doesn’t matter”; it’s not my problem”. Why not chat to the cashier in the supermarket while you are packing your bags or maybe that person you always try to avoid….
Being present and known by others enables us to recognise the image of God in one another and those who we may consider “other” but whom we can bring into the loving community of the Kingdom of God as brothers and sisters. However, to know ourselves and others takes a lifetime and can only be done in community. So perhaps it is time to start meeting together as a group again to practice mindfulness and being present and encourage each other to be present to the world around us.
Information about the Live Godpseed course can be found at https://www.livegodspeed.org/. Do speak to Revd Jeremy Putnam if you are interested in attending the next course which begins on 8th November. It has the potential to change your life and that of those around you.
This month's article was written by Kirsty Basram (Parish Administrator) who attended the first Live Godspeed course at All Saints Highertown.
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.