We are in the midst of an enchanting transformation of the life of faith in the USA. God is doing new things in people’s lives. Many churches are uncovering new ways of living the gospel: recovering the communal meal as an act of worship, engaging sacrificially in the lives of children and their families, building a deeper sense of community life both within the congregation and within the mission field the church is called to love and to serve. Each person has the opportunity to embrace theses new gospel ways or to resist them.
The task of leaders in the church today is described well in a reading from the Celtic Daily Prayer:
When Cuthbert came as prior to Lindisfarne he handed on the monastic rule by teaching and example, but some of the monks preferred their old way of life to the rule. He overcame these by patience and forbearance, bringing them round little by little through daily example to a better frame of mind. At chapter meetings he was often worn down by bitter insults, but would put an end to the argument simply by rising and walking out, calm and unruffled. Next day he would give the same people exactly the same admonitions, as though there had been no unpleasantness the previous day. In this way he gradually won their obedience. He was wonderfully patient, and though overwhelmed by sorrow at these monks’ recalcitrance, he managed to keep a cheerful face.
He urged his people to lift up their hearts and give thanks to the Lord God more by the yearnings of his own heart than by the sound of his own voice. Often as they were pouring out their sins he would be the first to burst into tears, tears of sympathy with their weakness. –Celtic Daily Prayer, Northumbria Community, Page 362-363