In this session we shall be building on what we have explored in previous sessions, with a view to consolidating the things which bind us together. This session will aim to take what we have learned about one another as a diverse group of Christians and, in doing so, seek to better understand what is meant by holiness, holiness being a virtue required of all of us.
In the last session we will have sought to draw more closely together as a Christian group, by experiencing the hospitality of God as we learn to listen deeply to each other’s understanding of truth. Did the session end leaving you all in a different place, in regard to how you think of the Church? How did it inform your lives individually during the ensuing week? Did it free you to question your own faith? Did it break down any barriers to understanding and to love? Or did it leave you confused and worried?
Other Readings (optional)
Graham Green – The Power and the Glory
Patrick White – Riders in the Chariot
Each of these books portrays a character, or characters, who is a holy person, even if their holiness is unconventional and possibly disturbing.
Holiness is not piety
Holy people are not necessarily ‘nice’ people
Holiness is a gift to be received and passed on
If you have read the two novels suggested above: (if not, move straight to the questions and exercises)
Graham Greene’s whisky priest – what makes him holy?
Patrick White’s key characters – in what different ways are they holy?
Questions and Exercises
Job’s repentance brings him to a far deeper understanding of the holiness of God, and that he is part of God, that he too is holy. Would you agree?
Imagine the scene in John’s gospel where the disciples ask Jesus ‘What must we be doing to do the works of God?’ What are they asking for? How would the question be asked today? What would you ask for, as a group? Try a period of silence in which you let go of the things that seem to matter to you personally, in your life and in your relationships. Allow God to be present to you at the deepest level of your being. Allow God to show you the things that matter to him and which he may be asking of you. Has the discussion so far caused you to question the purpose of your life?
What are the responsibilities of holiness in today’s world? Do you know any holy people?
Has the discussion led to questioning the purpose of the Church’s life? What do you think really matters regarding the Church, in the light of what has been said about holiness?
Lorraine Cavanagh is a theologian and an Anglican priest. Before her ordination she was an established painter with successful solo exhibitions in London. She then completed a doctorate at Cambridge University. Since her ordination in 2003 she has been Anglican Chaplain to Cardiff University and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. She was also part-time tutor in Christian Spirituality at St. Michael's College, Llandaff. She lives and works in South Wales.