Augustine draws on two biblical characters to describe these two ways of life: The Apostles John and Peter. Augustine says, “The first life, the life of action, is personified by the Apostle Peter; the contemplative life, by John. The first life is passed here on earth until the end of time, when it reaches its completion; the second is not fulfilled until the end of the world, but in the world to come it lasts forever.”
As illustrated by Peter, the first way of life is the way of contemplative action. It is the verve and dash that responds to the call of Christ to “follow me.” The life of action seeks to live into God’s aims for the world by doing what God is doing and going where God is going.
Of course, one can only do what God is doing and go where God is going by listening to God. For Augustine, this second way of life is active contemplation, demonstrated by John. While Peter is the “do-er,” John is the one who leans on Christ’s chest, listening to the divine breath, feeling the heartbeat of God, and enjoying the reality of being God’s beloved.
We need both at CCC. Even in this Summer season, we are an active group. We are already planning events to help us live into our covenantal commitments in the Fall. We are preparing to pass Maryland’s Marriage Equality referendum. We are planning anti-racism discussions and events on Middle East peace. Summer has just started, and I’ve already met with groups who are preparing Fall Sunday School and Youth Group calendars, New Member events, the Capital Campaign, Gifts and Callings classes, and Senior events. We are an active church. But I didn’t need to tell you that.
Go out there and act, CCC! I’m right there with you. Let’s meet the needs of the world, preaching, teaching, nurturing, feeding, singing, liberating, stewardship-ing, and following the living Christ. And in the midst of our contemplative action, let’s not forget active contemplation. Activism has a spiritual rhythm. We plan for the pauses. We act together, and then we draw together to pray, dream, and listen for the breath of the Divine Sprit. Only then do we engage the community again. We act and then we listen. We engage and then we pause. We move and then we become still. As we take part in this rhythm, we do not think ourselves into a new way of living, but we live ourselves into a new way of thinking.
Blessings on you all this Summer season.