Times and spaces for divine appointments – reflections at a conference on ”Missional Forms of Work in Old Churches in a New World”

”Mission is finding out what God is doing and joining in”, as John V.Taylor said many years ago. What is God doing among ordinary mainly people in secularised and multi-religious countries like Denmark today, and how may old churches like the Danish ”Volkskirche” join in?

When looking at the circle of life, what are the times when many or some people may be open to the presence God, the blessing of God or even the calling of God? It may not be possible to predict or even less to programme such divine appointmenst. It may happen when we experience great joys – e.g., when we experience the gift of getting a child – or when we experience great sorrows – e.g. when we lose somebody dear to us. At certain times in life many are so busy with life’s challenges and opportunities, at other times we come into a situation of detachment when we are more open to sensing the presence of the divine in our lives. This may hapen when we are taken aside from the busy-mess of life, e.g. throug long and serious illness, when retiring, during a holiday or at other times. The challenge for the church to accompany people in these situations in the hope that they may in their won way experience the blessings of a divine appointment.

When looking at the circle of the year, we may discover that there are times of the year when many or some people may also be open to encounters with the divine. Experience in each context may show to us when are these times? It may be at Christmas times, where there may be resonance in the heart of many of the story of Jesus and of Christmas hymns, that have touched our hearts earlier. It may be at ”all souls day” when we in church are given an opportunity to remember our dear ones who have passed away. It may be on national days of remembrance. It may happen when a catastrophy hits a society and a need is perceived to come toghet to try to find hope and in the midst meaninglessness. Also here the challenge of the church may be to be sensitive to the needs and longings of people and make space for divine appointmens.

As protestants we normally do not talk much about holy spaces. But just as no times in principle are more sacred than any others, but every day has the potential to become a holy day for a person when a divine encounter takes place, in the same way with places. Some people who would almost never consider attending church services may still be attracted to the church building and its atmosphere. Sitting their quietly and alone they may be open to a divine appointment. Another sacred space for some may me the church yard, where their beloved ones are buried and memories of the dead are awakened. Facing the reality of the fragility of life and the certainty of death may lead all of us to consider basic existential and spiritual questions and prepare us for an encounter with the divine. The road we walk may also become a sacred space for some, when we spend time on a pilgrimage on the camino to Santiago de Compostela – or a local one day pilgrimage. Waling quietly towards a certain place may open us up to other dimensions of life that we are not aware of in the daily busy life.

As traditionl church people – or churched people – we may take for granted that the time and space for divine appointments are on Sundays from 10-11 in our church. But our task or mission as church is to find out what God is doing in the present world among ordinary people today – when and where – and join in. Maybe God is setting up appointments with people also at other times and in other places, and maybe we have a role to play in facilitating such divine appointmens. As the church we are not in control of such divine appointment, they are not appointments with us, but with God. And only God knows what may be the outcome of any such divine appointment.

Haslev, Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Mogens S. Mogensen

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