The Apostle John in his first epistle says that “God is Love” (1 John 4:16), and this is also Llan’s collective experience and claim. As more and more of the false self is put to death within us, so this essential nature of God becomes our essential nature and is manifested in our lives as the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). As we are thus transformed the ‘aroma’ of that transformation – the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15) – begins to emanate from us and can’t help but affect the people and environment all around.
Deliberately taking this aroma to places where people hang out, meet up and generally socialise is how Llan understands being ‘missional’. Being missional is not about preaching a dogma or trying to convince others of a point of view (however subtly), but simply about being present and living out of our True Selves, which the bible calls the Holy Spirit. It also means being open to and aware of God’s healing, uniting and chain-breaking activity in the world around us. As we receive people with compassion and openness, the Holy Spirit – who is forever proceeding from the Godhead and gathering creation into the Trinity’s eternal dance of joy – may well weave us into Her mission of liberation. Throughout Christian history this has been known as participating in the Missio Dei, or Mission of God.
In this light, ‘third places (or spaces)’ are important to Llan. A third place is any social environment other than the home (first place) or workplace (second place), so examples include cafes, parks, bars and clubs. Instead of meeting in a separate and purpose built building (e.g. a church) we focus our local activities and identity around a third space, committing to be a consistent presence there, building relationships and being open to the Missio Dei.
And so we come full circle back to Cymric spirituality, as this is a contemporary interpretation of the very approach used by early Welsh missionaries to establish the first Llans – go into an area, build up relationships and in Christ’s name serve the wider community through the ministry of the monastic community.
Our whole approach to being missional is summed up perfectly in this prayer written by Cardinal John Henry Newman:
Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go;
Flood my soul with your spirit and life;
Penetrate and possess my whole being so completely
That all my life may be only a radiance of yours;
Shine through me and be so in me
That everyone with whom I come into contact
May feel your presence within me.
Let them look up and see no longer me—but only The Christ