It was A.W. Tozer who wrote and spoke of the great need in the church for a “sanctified imagination”. And we need to look for that and see it not just in terms of individuals, but in terms of the entire church itself, certainly drawing from individuals. We need the gift of being able to “think outside the box.”
Tradition is a great gift, and one that is too easily dispensed of by the church. “If we’ve always done it this way,” means for some that we need to do it in a different way. But certain practices and habits of life are indispensable as the backdrop and even the means of entering into something new and fresh. I think of Monastic orders and practices in this context, and the newness of life and vision which can arise from them.
A sanctified imagination as in thinking outside the box is certainly not confined in just how one does church, but in how we are the church. And we should always be thinking and praying on just how we can meet our neighbor in showing the love of Jesus, whoever that neighbor may be. And we may want to give our attention to this, not only to those with whom we have some kind of natural affinity, but perhaps especially those with whom we may seem to have little if anything in common at all. And particularly to those who are regarded as outcasts either by the world (often the refugees fleeing war torn countries) and even, sadly enough to say, by the church (I think of transgenders, which are at the center of a hot issue right now). We want to be well grounded in the truth and love that is in Jesus, and that’s going to mean being present in and through Jesus for all, for everyone, insofar as that’s possible. And where it seems impossible, trying to reach the unreachable through prayer, which is our first priority of practice, anyhow, being in the word of God (scripture) and prayer in the fellowship of the church.
Perhaps a main thought here is that while certain things may remain the same, like in our Anglican tradition, the liturgy for the gathering and for Holy Communion, there can be added some variations even within such liturgy at times in keeping with insights on how to be more faithful in light of cultural context. And most importantly in the mission we’re strengthened for even after the worship gatherings.
Change can be incremental, setting in place new traditions at the time, which may be helpful for a while. We need to be open to being stretched outside of our comfort zone. It is easy for me to simply settle in and try to do well within a certain practice, doing this day after day, week in and week out. But I need to be open to what might perhaps be small changes which can be helpful in letting in the gentle yet powerful breezes of the Spirit. A way of thinking, “sanctified imagination,” I believe supported by the New Testament which in itself ought to be part of our tradition.