Staying in one place is rare in today's culture. We move around from city to city, job to job, church to church. Stability is one of the core principles of our church.
Stability creates an environment to grow and mature, rooting us deeply within and without, through endurance and perseverance, with a particular community and location.The practice of stability poses great promise. It also poses many questions. I am, by profession, in ministry--though I'm not employed right now. Traditionally, ministers move from church to church every so often. And my wife would have better job opportunities if we could move elsewhere. But even though we're willing to go wherever God sends us, I don't want to move around every few years. Sometimes better job opportunities aren't worth uprooting. Sometimes.
Stability calls us to a committed way of life with a certain group of people for the long haul. Stability in monastic tradition would also add the willingness to be grounded in a geographic location from which mission and ministry is birthed. From a place of deep listening to God and connection to the people around them, the community’s charism and calling is discovered.
In particular, stability requires a interior stay with-it-ness when external or internal forces toss us about, making us want to flee.
The principle of stability is deeply rooted in God’s faithfulness to us. It is promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It is in this promise of God with us through His constant abiding presence we are able to commit ourselves to each other in God.
Abbey Way claims this principle of stability as its own. Antidotal to non-committal and individualistic forms of church attendance, stability names the real work of creating a community which is able to reflect the glory of Christ. As Abbey Way embraces stability as one of our core principals, we hope to create a consistent and accessible embodiment of the Gospel, enabling others to find Jesus and experience new life in Christ. (From http://www.abbeyway.org/principles/)
We've been in places where we wanted to root ourselves before (most of them--some we would have stayed around longer in if there were employment opportunities), and we've been in places where we haven't (Chicago was fun, but we would have had a hard time raising kids there). Right now we're in a church community we love and a neighborhood we want to be a part of transforming. Still, I don't savor the prospect of living in the middle of the city my whole life (I'm still a country boy at heart).
Putting down roots can be hard. When a seed starts to send out a root, the seed has to crack. Sometimes we need to be broken--and feel the brokenness of our neighborhood--for us to get to the point of growth where we are. And right now we're sprouting not in a field of alike crops, but in a prairie of wildflowers--each different, but each adding to the landscape.
(Photo by Amy Mingo)