09 November 2005

Spiritual Formation

So as it turns out I'm on sick day number three. It takes awhile to kick bronchitis, sinusitis and two ear infections ... even with a good antibiotic. And I'm getting bored. I still have no energy, but now I'm sitting here thinking about all the things I need to be doing, but have no energy or am too dizzy to do. And I'm bored. There are only so many websites and television programs and then one gets a bit stir crazy. Especially when you have things that you really want to do.

As it turns out I have a friend. Yes, one friend ... for all you chucklers and chortlers out there. He has been elevated to the most high "Director of Spiritual Formation" for a national ministry. This makes LightHusband and I grin because we've been friends with him for quite some time and a title such as "Director of Spiritual Formation" is sort of ... well ... formal for this friend of ours. There is perhaps no one I know more deserving of it ... but still ... it's sort of like suddenly being related to the president or something.

In any case, in his new role our friend is developing some resources for his ministry base to help with their "spiritual formation." And yesterday he sent us (among many others I am sure) a form to fill out asking us some questions about our "spiritual formation." I was glad for the diversion, because, as I may have mentioned, I'm bored.

Here was my "out-of-the-box" description of spiritual formation:

I think that most people think it can be done in the classroom, or in the sanctuary during the weekly sermon/lecture. But really, I think it only happens in one-on-one relationships (not necessarily mentoring relationships) but times where people are working things out in the nitty-gritty of life in community. I think that most spiritual formation happens in the context of community, not in individual spiritual disciplines. Mostly because that's where we get tripped up, and screw up and find out just how puny and withered and small our version of love is. And if, in those moments, we can be really honest with ourselves and then turn to Christ and in Him find the courage to be just a little bit more like Him ... those are the moments when spiritual formation happens. But maybe I'm being a little too unrealistic.

And here was my friend's response:

THAT IS A GREAT description of what I would say is an indicator, fruit - if you will, or determiner of how well you are "progressing" in the journey. You see there may have been a day when you didn't even realize that you were screwing up?! Or there may have been a day you began to realize you were screwing up and just felt GUILTY... then came the day you were screwing up and you realized you needed to Call out...

What I believe individual and corporate exercises or disciplines help us in our Spiritual Formation in being the conduit or the medium through which God's spirit rushes in and begins to actually do the work that forms us and morphs us...

So ... what? Why am bloggin about this? Because I began to wonder as I sit in my chair with just enough energy to be bored, what is this that we call spiritual formation? How does it happen? In what context? What do you think? Mostly I'm asking out of my own curiosity. But if you'd like to help my friend out on an official basis, drop me an e-mail and I'll put you in touch with him, and you can fill out his form too.


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