Cycles of Renewal and Reformation

Phyllis Tickle in the book Great Emergence posits God has a rummage sale every five hundred years or so, throwing out what is old and not needed, recreating the church in response to the current context of world history. Her thesis holds the church’s history within continuing cycles of renewal and reformation starting with monastic reform in 500 A.D., then the Orthodox Church split from the Roman Church in 1000 A.D., and again with the Protestant (and Catholic) renewal and reform movements of the 1500s. Seeing these experiences as normative, she believes the church is now again at the threshold of its reformation.

Whether one fully agrees with Phyllis Tickle’s schema is not as important in its strict application as the notion that God is always forming and reforming his church, with the Spirit brooding over it in every age. There does seem to be, even in a general sense, that something happens with a certain patterned timing that brings a new life to God’s precious own as they, in each generation, seek Him with their full heart. Abbey Way is part of this renewing history of Christ’s Church.

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Maybe more than anything else, to be a saint is to know joy. Not happiness that comes and goes with the moments that occasion it, but joy that is always there like an underground spring no matter how dark and terrible the night. To be a saint is to be a little out of one’s mind, which is a very good thing to be a little out of from time to time. It is to live a life that is always giving itself away and yet is always full.
— Frederick Buechner, Now and Then