A further contribution to this subject – which provided the theme for the two recent Community Gatherings is reprinted below. It comes from Christward Kröner, who some will remember from his time as a newly ordained priest here in Johannesburg, at the beginning of the nineties. He wrote it as part of a booklet for the recent Whitsun Conference in Holland and it seems apposite here. (See elsewhere in the Newsletter for further related contributions). I wonder who the 'eminent contemporary' is, whom he quotes....
Although The Christian Community is approaching its 100th birthday, it is still at its very beginning. Today the religious life of many people no longer includes fixed forms and social commitment, so our movement might seem as a living anachronism. However, The Christian Community does not “oppose” the times, nor is it “behind the times”. On the contrary, its current validity and future potential must be discovered – and developed – again and a gain. The Christian Community recognises the religious maturity of every person, respects the freedom of belief and each individual’s innermost convictions, and trusts that divine revelation and divine presence can take place in every human soul. In this regard, it is very different from many things that have historically developed as “church”. The Christian Community received its identity from the form and gesture of the sacraments it cultivates. People who want to pray them in community, and who experience inner, sustaining evidence of the Spirit and the divine world, can connect with them. The liturgical life processes of The Christian Community are not arbitrary human inventions, but gifts from the hand of the Risen Christ, who is revealing himself to the Earth and human beings anew. We are invited to live and work in these gifts.
The door to experiencing the rituals’ spirituality opens if we are willing to quiet down inwardly, unfold soul-spiritual activity out of this quiet – and immerse ourselves in the process again and again. An eminent contemporary once said something which we can directly apply to the rituals: “Great things do not become tiresome through repetition. Only what is trivial needs variation and must quickly be replaced by something else. What is great becomes greater when we repeat it. And we ourselves become richer in doing so, we become still and become free.”
In our often hectic and sensationalist time, the tranquillity and “sameness” of the ritual is “provocative” in the positive sense. This ritual life is both stumbling block and cornerstone. It gives The Christian Community its raison d’étre. All of the sacraments and rituals serve as nourishment and support on the path to becoming Christian.
Individuals strive for a living relationship to Christ – this is the prerequisite for the Christianity of the community and the healing power of the sacraments, which ultimately are intended to work beyond the sphere of the congregation and extend to all of humanity. Congregational life in The Christian Community flows from rituals that are the same everywhere, but can look different at each location, and address the needs of the people and our time in very diverse ways. What happens in a given congregation, and what specific shape this takes, depends to a large degree on the people who collaborate in it – on their initiative and their awakeness to the Spirit.