This Sunday is the feast of Transfiguration. It’s an important feast, we’ll celebrate liturgy of the Johannite Gnostic Eucharist. Please come along and stay for a cup of tea afterwards.
There’s a lot I could say about Transfiguration, it’s such an intriguing moment in the Gospels – such an amazing visionary experience… but I’m not going to. Instead I’d like to take a moment to talk about spiritual practice.
Someone asked me last night what role “faith” played in Gnostic spirituality. While we care more about finding gnosis – the deep knowledge of the heart that comes through experience – than blind belief, we still need faith in the sense of belief and patience.
Without faith that it is possible to encounter the Divine directly, why on earth would we embark on the journey? We need to trust the tradition, to believe that the path leads to the experience we crave and to have the patience and perseverance to cross the various barriers put in our way.
If you’ve read a few of these newsletters, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of the communal practice embodied in the ritual of the Eucharist. This weekly, group, encounter with the Divine Presence is a critical part of my spiritual practice. It has contributed incalculably to my own ability to love and to know. So, I pitch the advantages at any opportunity.
I talk a lot less about private prayer, solitary contemplation and solo practice in general. This is largely because we’ve never had an organised way to foster solitary practice in the parish. I’ve explained it to anyone who wants to know, advocated for it whenever asked and I’m always happy to help people find their own path, but there’s been nothing formal.
I strongly feel that the spiritual journey is best made in both directions, both in community and in solitude. In solitude, we form our ability to bring firm, steady attention to knowing ourselves and witnessing our experience, we ready our hearts to love, we come to know ourselves and through that gate to know the Divine.
We bring the fruits of the private work together in community when we encounter the Divine together, and just as importantly we encounter each other all our strangeness and difference.
Next week, the parish starts meeting regularly to explore contemplative prayer via some tried and true techniques: basic quietness training through the Jesus Prayer, chanting the psalms, Centering Prayer and calm abiding meditation.
We’re using Meetup.com to organise these meetings in the hopes of connecting with some new people, so if you’d like to expand and share your own practice journey with others, register for a free account and let us know you’d like to come along.
We’ve called this new gathering the Wisdom Jesus Meetup. I’d love to see you there and have the opportunity to explore this amazing world of spiritual practice with you.
Readings for the week
Service – 6pm
The service this Sunday will be the “Johannite Gnostic Divine Liturgy”. The service alternates engagement and stillness, provoking a meditative attitude and the cultivation of deeper perceptions. The service features prayer and chant and the sharing of the Body and the Blood in the form of bread and wine.
Conversation, hot drinks and snacks follow the service. Please stay and mingle.
The congregation at St Uriel’s meets every Sunday at 6pm at:
The Unitarian Centre
15 Francis St
Rector: Father Tim Mansfield
Apostolic Johannite Church