Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Spirituality for everyday life - a guest post from Dr B.

At a time when much of the attention is on women bishops in the Church of England, Margot Kässmann, Lutheran bishop in Hanover (who said she was delighted by the general synod vote and looked forward to having her first female colleague in the Church of England), has just had the English edition of her book, "With Hearts, Hands and Voices: Spirituality for Everyday Life", published by the World Council of Churches. Against the background of the spiritual resources of the Bible, worship, prayer and song, the book explores the diversity of spiritual opportunities open to individuals or groups. Using examples from the past and from the present day, the book is an encouragement to hold together the tension between hope and struggle, prayer and action, the life of faith and responsibility for the world. "Spirituality is nourished," she notes, "by the sources of our fathers and mothers in faith, and at the same time cannot be imprisoned by boundaries of tradition because it develops new forms and dynamics along the way."
Over the front door of the manse on the island of Hiddensee in the Baltic Sea - an island where motor transport is banned - is an inscription that she says brilliantly expresses the tension between God's gift and our responsibility: "God is the wind and the waves. But the rudder and sails that bring you safe to harbour are your own." Christian spirituality will motivate us and offer us opportunities, but always points back into the world; "it doesn’t pull us away from the here and now, but rather opens up opportunities for life and action. This kind of spirituality strengthens our faith and gives balance to our life in order that we can speak up for truth and justice." And she writes:

In many ways spirituality has become an ecumenical concept which points to the future, not least because spirituality helps us to stand in strength alongside our sisters and brothers all over the world. It makes the strong willing to stand up for the weak, and helps the weak know that they have not been left lost and alone, but that they are a part of the family of the children of God. This kind of spirituality gives people the power and the courage to confront injustice and violence instead of simply acquiescing to the status quo … The World Council of Churches assembly in Nairobi in 1975 spoke of a 'spirituality for combat'. Nowadays, we might find this concept a little harsh: spirituality and combat seem to us to be opposites. But if combat means gaining the strength to fight against destruction and violence, against the complete domination of the market, against alienation, then the idea does have meaning for today. We need a spirituality that enables us to resist evil.

Margot Kässmann, "With Hearts, Hands and Voices: Spirituality for Everyday Life", Geneva: WCC Publications, ISBN-13: 978-2825415221.

Links to WCC Publications and to Amazon.