Saturday, September 12, 2009

Come the New Jerusalem: YAFIR and New Monasticism

It’s been a week since I moved into the house donated to the YAFIR (Young Adult Friends in Residence) program. The house was in bad shape when we got it but half a dozen F(f)riends have worked very hard for the last three weeks and it now feels more like a home. I am the first intern to move into the house and it feels a little strange just banging around the place waiting for things to get started. It’s given me a little down time though, some time to get used to living in a new place, get my stuff moved in and connect with Friends from Perry City Meeting.

I have been thinking and praying a lot about the community aspect of the program. It has been very clear to me, and the YAFIR committee, that the interns were to build and live in an intentional community however how that would happen and what it would look like has totally been left up to the interns. I have very definite feelings about this. I am not comfortable with the idea of us just being a group of random people living together in the same house. Neither am I at all comfortable with the idea of us living in a community based on the usual model of alternative, secular intentional communities.

I am however very strongly drawn to New Monasticism. When I read 12 Marks of New Monasticism I knew that what it outlined was what I wanted, and more importantly what I needed. It spoke to my condition perfectly. It was a deeply moving spiritual moment for me. Every time I pray about this it only becomes clear to me that I am being called to participate more fully in the Emergent Church movement and New Monasticism as part of that.

On the other hand I and my other interns have not had an opportunity to get together and talk about it. The other two Young Adult Friends involved in the program do not identify as Friends in the Spirit of Christ and I do not know what their feelings will be about participating in or affiliating ourselves with a movement that is undeniably Christian. I must admit the Christian theology and practices New Monasticism embodies is a large part of what draws me to it though. On the other hand those already involved in New Monastic communities are doing much the same work the YAFIR program was designed to do. I think that the connections with other people doing similar work we could make by connecting in some way with this movement would be helpful and nurturing to the YAFIR program as whole. I also think this is a great opportunity for Young Adult Friends to reach out beyond the Quaker community and make connections with other serious religious people involved in similar work. I think Quakers do have a place in the Emergent Church and New Monasticism and I would love to see the YAFIR program take part in finding that place.

The other two interns and I have tried to communicate via e-mail but it hasn’t really worked out up until this point. I hope and pray we will come to a clearer understand of the direction this community will go once at least two of us have the opportunity to talk face to face. I also hope that the other two interns possible leeriness of Christianity will not stop us from building a strong, meaningful community under the guidance of the Spirit.

I will continue to pray for strength and faithfulness for all of us.

297 comments:

1 – 200 of 297   Newer›   Newest»
forrestwife said...

Holding you in the Light Anna.
check out my blog
stillwatersrefuge.blogspot.com

Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

Anna, I appreciate your desire to live in a community more thoroughly grounded in, and structured around, Christian commitment.

I am mindful of the fact that Friends communities used to be such communities. (And in some places they still are, but seldom are they such among liberal Friends today.)

I do have some problems with the specifics of the “twelve marks” you link to. Some of them sound like human intellectualizing (“abandoned places of Empire”, for instance) more than they do like what Christ taught in the Gospels (“render unto Cæsar”; “if someone requires you to go with him one mile, go two”). I think an open-ended commitment to obedience to the leadings of Christ, even when they contradict one’s own notions of what Christ wants, is pretty important here.

I hope you get the chance to talk this out with the other interns, and I will be interested to learn what comes of that talk. Do let us know!

Anna said...

thank you both for your thoughts and prayers!

Friend Marshall:

It is interesting to me that the first of the 12 Marks( the one you quote) was one of the ones you had trouble with, because it is one of the ones I feel most clear on.

I understand Empire not merely as political but a social way of being that actively goes against Gospel Order. To me reclaiming space, and resources, and ways of living we have been taught to think of as useless or not as good is in line with the teachings of Christ more so then many other forms of political and social activism. Because when we reclaim we do not merely point out where someone is wrong but create an alternative way of seeing, understanding, and acting in the world. We also build communities that way, rather then blindly striking out against the powers that be out of anger and hate. It's a harder road but one I do believe Christ taught us to follow. I think Christ taught us to be careful of ways of resisting power structures that are hurtful and hateful and do not build communities. At least that is the way that I have always understood the Bible passages you quote.

As always though it's great and thought provoking to hear your understanding of things.

Peace and Joy,
Anna.

Lawrence said...

So good to see you online, Anna. This is Lary Jones, formerly of Binghamton meeting. What a transformation from when I knew you in first day school and meeting. I support your leading.

Best,
Lary

Anna said...

Hi Lary and blessings!

Peace and Joy,
Anna.

Micah Bales said...

Anna -

I am praying for you and for the community of Young Adult Friends that is about to come together. Thank you for keeping us informed as it develops.

I pray blessings for you in the name of Jesus Christ: That you may be strengthened in your devotion to Him and obedient to the guidance of His Spirit.

Love and friendship in Christ,

Micah Bales
http://valiantforthetruth.blogspot.com
http://lambswar.blogspot.com

Anna said...

thank you Micah and blessing on you and your work too.

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