Forest Church

Known and Unkown

#SensingOtherness tags experiences of sensing an aspect of human being which is more than just its physical elements. People also talk of #SensingAwareness, experiencing a changed state of awareness that could also be described as “being at one” with Nature.

These sensations can be very personal and difficult to discuss, or even describe. When you look at a sunset and describe it as beautiful, what are you recognising?

The author of Wisdom chapter 13 contrasts the experience of sensing the creator in the created with the practice of those who make something and declare that people should worship it. The way it is written could be read as an attack on pagansism.

However, in 21st century Scotland, the emerging spiritualities called pagan are often the ones that are leaving the recieved trappings of religuon behind. They are abandoning the constructs of modern society and searching for something ‘other’. Whilst Christmas has been gift wrapped and is sold on the high street they gather round fires and look into the stars, perhaps like the magi in the gospels, who journeyed out in confidence but without knowledge of their destination.

Wisdom ch 13: 1-9

Hopefully we are not all called into the desert to wear animal skins and eat honey and locusts like John the Baptist, but to what extent do we genuinely preserve our traditions to hand them on to future generations? or do we bind ourselves to the human constructs in order make us feel secure, and remind ourselves of the church of our childhood.

Jesus is described as discussing worship with the Samaritan woman at the well, he says that people will worship in Spirit and Truth. He contrasts the known and the unknown. The high places (often condemned by the prophets, but also a place of spiritual searching) and in the temple in Jerusalem (often condemned for legalism and false religiosity, but where God can be known). He is positive about both. It is also another example of God going out and meeting people where they are, with something to offer and to do something new.

You might be someone for whom the recognition of beauty is like a flower blossoming in your mind, or someone who seeks it like the dawn breaking on a distant horizon. Or perhaps you find understanding when patterns of words make meaning fall into place in a beautiful harmony. It might simply be that beauty inspires you to make the world a better place.

Whatever the primary way in which you encounter beauty is, once we examine our experience, and recognise it’s reality, then we are better able to recognise the validity of another persons experience. Then, if reassured, we can develop our abilities more broadly to sense genuine spiritual experiences. This may be in a traditional setting, or it might be in an unfamiliar place.

Forest Church is an attempt to go outside not only the buildings to worship but also our habits, in the confidence that God is already at work there. By leaving the known and familiar behind, we hope to discover Jesus at work, creating and sustaining all things in being. Re-wilding domestic religion so that we can find our spiritual homes.

The next Quartz Forest Church will be on Sunday the 16th of January. Meet at the front door of the Crichton church in Dumfries at 14.00 We will adapt what we do according to the weather, and using the passage from Wisdom and the lessons in the elements we explore the relationship between knowing and unknowing.

0 replies on “Known and Unkown”

I love the idea of re-wilding domestic religion to find our spiritual home – allowing the outside world to connect with our inner seeking world and see what grows from the soil of our souls…there is always truth in beauty when our hearts are ready to see it.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

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