Jean Vanier and the Holy Spirit

Rev. Cliff WarnerCliffNotes, Frontpage News

Dear Christ Church,

Who is on your Mt. Rushmore? Who are the handful of people whose influence towers in your life, either by personal relationship or the life they lived or their writing or speaking?

The late Jean Vanier is on Christine’s Mt. Rushmore. He is the founder of L’Arche, “an international network of communities for people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities to live together in faith and friendship.” His greatest impact on our spiritual formation has been through his emphasis on weakness and vulnerability as essential to being truly human. The company he kept—people with disabilities—did not value him for his status, intellect, or accomplishments. He was stripped down to love, the love he received and gave in these unique communities.

In the spring of 2001, Christine and I attended a small gathering in Vancouver, BC with Jean Vanier and the local L’Arche community. We were, at that time, in major discernment about our next post-seminary steps. We were praying about either returning to our non-denominational sending church in Austin to prepare for international mission, or to an Episcopal church on the border of Mexico to serve the parish and the immigrant community around the church.

Jean Vanier’s voice combined with some other indicators that the Spirit was leading us to El Paso, Texas. I’ll never forget a phrase he used, almost prophetically, to speak about the years of ministry in front of me in my 30’s, years he said that would be characterized by “maturing fecundity.” Our years on the border were both fruitful and formational, indeed.

Discernment is a process by which we listen to and follow the promptings and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This Sunday we continue our sermon series on the Holy Spirit with “The Guided Life.” Are you wondering where is God leading in your life, or do you have a decision to make? Join us this Sunday!

Peace, Cliff+