The Understandings of the Lindisfarne Community

1. As a Christian community we seek above all else to be Christlike—to be as Christ to those we meet; to find Christ within them. Over the years we have deepened our understanding of what that means to us. Our understandings are those things we aspire toward as we follow Christ and seek to keep the community Rule. They are at the core of who we are and seek to become. They are not a list of do’s and don’ts; nor are they a list of self-congratulations, “look at us we’ve made it!” At their heart they are our prayer. We see these understandings in the life of Jesus; shining, precious gems, winsome, lovely, drawing us out of ourselves and towards Christ.

2. We know too, that our community must be for “sinners” and not “saints.” We are ordinary people struggling with the realities of day to day life in an imperfect world. We are aware, therefore, that our way of living will always be incomplete. When people join the Lindisfarne Community, as any other intentional community, natural illusions and idealism about community will quickly be shattered. However, disillusionment leads towards reality. Discovering Christ among us is the beginning of true community.

3. Love is to be at the heart of the Lindisfarne Community. “Love your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies.” The immensity of the task makes it naturally impossible! Yet we are called to be a community of love. We need to remember, it is God’s love, not ours; perfect, eternal, constant. With God’s love there are no strings attached, no conditions to be met, no favoritism. Yet it is not sentimental nor romantic, for love is not merely a feeling, it is an act of will; the “naked intent” of the heart to love God, neighbor and enemy. There is the deepest of all joy in the love of God. We seek to learn to love, to walk in love, to exult in love, to make love our highest aim, to let God’s love fill us completely. Our desire is to be free within the love of our heavenly Father-Mother — to know God’s passionate love for us and to live our lives from within God’s acceptance of us. This love of God is reflected in our love for all, even those who are considered our enemies. It is a reconciling love; a love that seeks peace. It is a love for the whole of creation.

4. Our spirituality is at the level of being. It is who we are in our truest selves. Our spirituality is developed by seeking to follow the Rule of the community; by pursuing Jesus in spiritual intimacy; by developing a secret history with God. We encourage the reading of the great adepts of spirituality in the Christian and other traditions. We are a charismatic community and encourage members to seek spiritual gifts; the Holy Spirit is generous in distribution. In the Celtic Christian tradition the Spirit was depicted as the “wild goose.” In the Lindisfarne Community, we seek to follow the wild goose, wherever she may lead us.

5. Such a life must be characterized by humility. We aspire to be honest, real and down-to-earth. Humility is opposed to the arrogance, isolation and deception that pride brings. We accept our spiritual poverty, our limitations and dependency and also accept responsibility for the use of our gifts and strengths for the service of God. The humble are willing to receive as well as to give. Humility respects and esteems others. It is a form of the love that does not seek its own way. We seek to be a grace-filled community as we “wash one another’s feet.”

6. In this we are seeking to be authentic people, so that there is nothing false about us. We refuse to wear masks, seeing our lives whole and entire, being utterly honest with ourselves. Integrity toward others flows out of fearless personal honesty. There is a need to break down the difference between the sacred and the secular; to be the same on Monday as Sunday; to be the same at work as at home; to be the same with our family as with our friends and colleagues. 

7. We are challenged by a call to simplicity. Our deepest need is to grow in our knowledge and love of God, not the accumulation of more material things. There is a beauty in space, in openness, in solitude. We seek to enjoy beauty without owning or possessing; to stay focused, single minded, with purity of desire. 

8. To be faithful, as God is faithful, requires a community where faithfulness can be learned. In our calling to become community, our faithfulness will be tested. We should not resist the test, but, rather embrace it. Like “silver tried seven times” we will be all the stronger; the community will be more real. In the testing of faithfulness we learn to rejoice together and to suffer together.

9. In the Lindisfarne Community gender, sexual orientation, age, race or class are not barriers to service and function. We believe that both men and women may be called by God to the offices of bishop, priest and deacon. In God’s sight we are all equal. In the story of the garden, God gave to Adam and Eve an equal dignity, an equal calling, an equal responsibility and an equal blessing. Yet, at the same time we are called to radical subordination, preferring the other above our self. In this we seek to allow the Spirit to dig deep into our unconscious to remove hidden prejudices; that our attitudes, speech and actions may be free of discrimination.

10. We value the freedom given to us by the Spirit of God. Yet true freedom is not license, to do as we please, to satisfy every whim of desire. Freedom is the liberty to be all God wants us to be; liberty to love and be loved; liberty to serve and be served. To maintain freedom we need to check our hearts often for traces of legalism toward ourselves and toward others. True freedom means the absence of the need to control others, to dominate them. It means the absence of the need to self-justify, to prove ourselves in the sight of others.

11. We are an ecumenical community. In sacred history, God has allowed many different streams. They are all refreshing in different ways. So we reject party spirit in any of its forms, secure in who we are and where God has us; refusing to mold others to our own understanding of truth. Other people do not have to be the same as us. We are developing a theology which is comfortable in difference. In the freedom that a desire for unity brings, we are to dismantle the walls between separated sisters and brothers across religious and secular boundaries.

12. We are called toward a generous, self-giving lifestyle. In order for that to happen, we try not to hoard our time, talents, money or gifts; developing the habit of giving things away. In the Lindisfarne Community we encourage members not to be limited by the tithe, to be more expansive in our thinking about generosity; listening for the gentle promptings of the Spirit. We are often surprised how giving God wants us to be. We seek, too, to be generous with the faults and mistakes of others. Forgiveness is seventy times seven — in truth there is no end to it.

13. We are committed to hospitality, receiving others as they are; who they are in Christ. Our service is through our homes, with common meals, caring hospitality, as we extend family and friendship. In the breaking of bread, sharing our food, we recognize Jesus amongst us; in entertaining strangers we welcome angels.

14. In the Lindisfarne Community, we are willing to be out on a limb, to be vulnerable. In doing so we always run the risk of being rejected, which is at times an intense form of suffering. Nonetheless, to that we have been called. Jesus was the most vulnerable on the cross and in our discipleship we willingly embrace the cross — to be vulnerable, to be out of control, knowing the freedom that vulnerability brings.

15. We see through a glass only darkly and know our understandings to be merely provisional. We hold our convictions (which are few) without wavering, but hold our opinions (which are many) lightly. Therefore, there must be a great willingness to change — being slow to judge, never condemning, quick to acknowledge mistakes and move on. There is yet more light and truth for us to become aware of, to assimilate and so to be transformed.