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difference: September reflections
Hi <<First Name>>,

This month's eResource is the 12th edition, marking a year of the movement. Thank you for being part of it, whether you subscribed a year ago or a minute ago! 

We are continuing our series on loving enemies, exploring what this looks like in action and the difference it can make.

Scroll down to watch Stephanie's story, read our reflections and find the latest news on how to get involved with training and resources .
Earlier this year we were joined by the Rev'd Canon Dr Stephanie Spellers at our webinar exploring the habit of curiosity. Click on the image below to watch her share about how she has learned to meet hostility with curiosity. 
Video: Stephanie's story
If you'd like to share your story with us, you can do so by replying to this email or by writing it in our online form
Hostility is infectious. Who hasn’t sometimes found themselves responding to a frosty remark or a mistrustful look with equal frostiness and mistrust? ‘They’re shutting me out, so I’m going to shut them out. So there!’ as Stephanie described it. The French language even has a phrase – l’esprit de l’escalier – for the well-known experience of thinking of the perfect comeback too late.  

On the one hand this is instinctive self-protection in a threatening situation – our defences shoot up unconsciously, even unwillingly. On the other hand, it reflects the fact that our room for engagement is squashed. When others are hostile, our options feel limited - we can lash out or we can absorb the ill-feeling silently, allowing it to accumulate and fester.  

Jesus offers us the outrageous third option or, rather, command: to love our enemies – that narrow, counter-intuitive path, in which we practise neither hostility nor passivity. We need the Holy Spirit to give us the energy and creativity to make this possible. In Stephanie’s story, it was the practise of curiosity which enabled her to do this, even when her enemies were hostile to her very existence. The posture of wondering about the story of another person disarms our own hostility – and sometimes it can even do the same for them, creating the possibility of conversation or connection.  
Not only that, but choosing to love her enemies through curiosity enabled Stephanie to enact the hopeful future she longed for: ‘If I’m not curious about them, if I’m not open to them, then they’ll never be open to me.’ She embodied the hope of a better relationship through her own attitude and practice, bringing a piece of the kingdom of heaven into the present.   
This is at the heart of what God’s reconciliation is all about. It is no coincidence that, before St Paul goes on to write about the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ which we have been given, he writes:
‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ - 2 Corinthians 5:17
As the theologian NT Wright describes:
'Jesus…calls his followers to live in him and by the power of his Spirit and so to be new-creation people here and now, bringing signs and symbols of the kingdom to birth on earth as in heaven. The resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit mean that we are called to bring real and effective signs of God’s renewed creation to birth even in the midst of the present age.’ 
When the hostility of others – or our own hostility to them – threatens to paralyze the relationship, perhaps we can choose to get curious. To wonder about the other’s story, to ask them to help us understand something from their point of view. In the process, we might find ourselves being part of a hopeful future that barely seemed possible. 
Spend some time reflecting on Stephanie's story and the passage from 2 Corinthians. Invite God to speak to you by his Holy Spirit as you do this. 

To guide your reflection, consider the following questions.
  1. Where am I being called to take the first step in being curious about others who may not be curious about me? 
  2. Where do I find it hardest to be curious?  Can I ask God to help me access my curiosity in those moments?
  3. How can my daily habits and practices allow me to embody the hopeful future God promises?
New Training Spaces Added

Due to high demand, we have created additional spaces at our online training sessions, which you can register for here

This training provides you with all you need to run the Difference course, whether online or in person. Once you've attended one of the training sessions you'll have access to all course materials and will be ready to get started with your group. 


Watch our Webinars

If you enjoyed hearing from Canon Stephanie why not check out our whole webinar series with other special guests and a chance to go deeper with the three habits. Find them on YouTube here.

Grace and Peace,

The Difference Team
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