On 11 May I was really pleased to join some colleagues, some of our CMS Pioneer students and others to hear Mark Scandrette talk about the radical invitation of the Beatitudes in the Ninefold Path.
The event was held at the Home Community Café, at St Andrews Church in Earlsfield. One of the nice connections with Home café is that it is an idea that was brought to our Make Good week 3 and a half years ago and worked up as an idea so it was great to see it now as a real enterprise. This church is also home to Earlsfield Friary, a new monastic community engaging in mission. The café is housed right in the church and serves excellent coffee. Our meeting was mostly held in the nave of the church, amid beautiful stained glass windows and vases of yellow tulips.
Mark Scandrette is an author, teacher, activist and coach from San Francisco. His coaching, his website tells us, is for ‘… leaders and teams who want to create a better world from the inside out’. Having heard Mark speak at CMS last year I knew this to be true, Mark has a creative and enjoyable way of presenting innovation from within.
The day was specifically to explore the nine beats of the beatitudes – the way of Trust, Lament, Humility, Justice, Compassion, Right Motive, Peacemaking, Surrender and Radical Love. The idea behind these nine beats was a way to encapsulate what it means to be and grow as a Christian, using the words of Jesus in the Beatitudes.
These nine beats are accompanied by nine actions, – opened hands for Trust, head in hands for lament, etc. Together we worked through the nine beats and actions after a time of preparation. Mark has a great way of making people feel safe and encouraged.
We assembled in the altar area of the church to name the things that worry us, our fears and concerns. We wrote these out and then explored in pairs how it might be if our worries came true. As a positive thinker, it is hard to explore this. Yet, of course, the way of faith is to be prepared for the worst but to hope for the best. Interestingly, even the worst is not so bad when shared in a faith context with support from our Christian community and most of all from God.
During the rest of the day we prayed (silently), with words of affirmation, for those we passed on the street; we had a gorgeous colourful lunch; more delicious hot drinks and sweet things; plus a chance to work in a group of three, washing each other’s feet and praying together through the ninefold path.
What the ninefold path offers is a way of practically expressing Jesus’ words, and building connection together. Mark helped us to see the ways that he had set up our time so that we could feel supported, and he encouraged us to do the same.
As I left Earlsfield the bus sailed past ‘The Beatitudes Salon’, this seemed very fitting. A reminder that Jesus – and his words – are already present in our communities. That we are called to make connection with Trust, Lament, Humility, Justice, Compassion, Right Motive, Peacemaking, Surrender and Radical Love – especially where God brings them close to us.