Sunday, 11 October 2009

Uncontainable outcomes

Canon John Gibaut who is director of Faith and Order gave a very encouraging address to the plenary commission in Crete as it began its work and one phrase he used has particularly stuck with me. John spoke first of the expected outcomes of the meeting but then he turned to what he termed "uncontainable outcomes":

There will be many outcomes that are both uncontrollable and unpredictable, the gifts of theHoly Spirit to us and to the churches through our prayer, work, fellowship and pilgrimagestogether this week. I call these “uncontainable outcomes”, and there is no place for such categories in the WCC reporting mechanisms.
As what we still refer to as the ecumenical movement becomes more institutionalised it was good to be reminded of those unexpected, uncontrollable outcomes that are actually a fruit of healthy discussion, disagreement and debate. One of the memories I shall take from this meeting is walking through the Orthodox Academy of Crete while participants are meeting for morning prayer in various rooms in their discussion groups. They all follow the same basic outline and Bible reading but they also choose different songs and music. It's very moving to hear one group singing in Spanish while in a different space another group is saying the Lord's prayer in multiple languages. This early morning prayer and Bible study also feeds into the work in uncontainable ways, feeding people's reflections.

The concept of uncontainable outcomes also spoke to my recent musings on the creative age and the idea that in the knowledge based economy we need to learn to value relationships, processes, meetings and much more that is intangible and yet essential in life. On Sunday evening some participants at the meeting joined in the Cretan dancing - another uncontainable outcome as people returned to the Academy last night saying "we danced!" Is there a better statement than that to be able to make at a theological meeting?
The Lord of the Dance is also the Lord of un containable outcomes.