Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Contemplative Tradition - 1 of 6

This brief survey over six separate articles is a snapshot of the book, Streams of Living Water, by Richard J. Foster. There are six Christian Traditions highlighted for focus in the book: Contemplative, Holiness, Charismatic, Social Justice, Evangelical, and Incarnational. This is the assumed summary of the Christian faith.

In completion of the six traditions we achieve Imitatio Christi, the following of Christ’s way of spirit and power.

The Contemplative Tradition or Prayer-filled Life

Jesus was the exemplar of the prayer-filled life and intimacy with God the Father. Several times in the gospels it is recorded that he sought the Father alone and ‘prayed in a solitary place.’

The basis of the prayer-filled life is an inward journey to the desert of one’s soul as an antecedent to the outward journey into the world. Prayer always precedes action as the voice of God’s Spirit permeates its way through the tough exterior into our souls helping us see how he sees.

Fire and love are two key words describing the contemplative life: “Purging, purifying fire. Enveloping, comforting love,” as the Spirit speaks to us and we listen, prepared to obey.

Indeed, other words that describe this highly paradoxical life are love, peace, delight, emptiness, fire, wisdom and transformation.[1] These in fact form a process; love leading to peace, and to simple joyous delight, then a yearning emptiness, that breathes a fire into our search, conjuring wisdom and thus transformation.

The contemplative tradition is about a “life of loving attention to God.” It is important because “through it we experience the divine rest that overcomes our alienation.”[2]
[1] Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (London, England: HarperCollinsReligious, 1998), p. 49.
[2] Foster, Ibid, p. 58.

No comments: