Isaac of Stella meets Pete Rollins

In a sermon, the Cistercian monk, mystic, and theologian Isaac of Stella (c. 1100-1169) preaches:

Why, brothers, are we so little concerned to seek one another’s well being, so that where we see a greater need, we might show a greater readiness to help and carry one another’s burdens?  For this is what the blessed apostle Paul urges us to do in the words: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ; and also: Support each other in charity.  For this surely is the law of Christ. (Sermo 31: PL 194, 1292)

Pete Rollins, founder of the Ikon community in Belfast, writes:

At Ikon, we do not tithe to the “organization,” nor do we look to it for pastoral support.  Rather, Ikon encourages relational tithing and relational pastoring whereby we give to one another materially and emotionally. (How (Not) to Speak of God, p.131)

This strikes me as a particularly helpful thought for those of us in independent communities with no buildings, paid staff, or large operational expenses.  Too often, we can focus on collecting money so that we might one day have buildings and salaries, or, perhaps better, to give to good causes (as if we cannot do so individually).  We also tend to turn one or more persons into the pastor/s, who are somehow more responsible than others for taking care of folks, emotionally and spiritually.   How do we shift from an organizational to a relational vision, so that each of us is responsible for caring for others (whether in the community or out in the world) in material, emotional, and spiritual ways – in accord with their needs, and our individual gifts and resources?   For, as Isaac of Stella says, this surely is the law of Christ.


One Response to “Isaac of Stella meets Pete Rollins”

  1. The Liberal Rite Says:

    Again, we see that the concentration on individual spirituality and development is key to growth. Buildings can be fine places, but as the Celtic tradition reminds us, the sacraments are as rich when celebrated in the open air, surrounded by God’s creation.

    Because there is a societal perception of what “church” is, I believe many feel that if they do not conform to this (salaries, buildings etc) they somehow fall short in the estimation of others and thus fail to fulfil their mission. Yet this is but one of many possible models.

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