Sunday, April 29, 2007

in the cathedral

This morning I preached at Christchurch Cathedral Oxford. An interesting space to work in. The cathedral covers a large area but is actually made up of a lot of smaller spaces. When I do this kind of thing I like to enage with the congregation. Archdeacon Julian told me beforehand not to try that - you preach from a high pulpit sideways-on halfway down a long narrow aisle - and if you try to maintain eye contact, it'll look you are watching a tennis match from the umpire's chair. So it was a bit like being on the radio. Seemed to go OK, and I enjoyed the new experience. Great to have lots of mayBe people there. The theme was vocation and I used quotations from various people in mayBe community. Here's one of them, from Michael: 'Could it be that the most profound aspect of vocation is that God may have formed us with desires and aspirations which mirror the Kingdom of God, and thus vocation is best discerned in those areas of our lives which give us and others most joy'... You can download the sermon from mayBe resources

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

vinyl rush pt3. meet me down by the pylons

Meet me down by the pylons. Big thanks to buddy Matt Rees, massive Van Morrison fan of this fair city and abbot of hOME. Last week Matt was telling me about the Van gig [see Matt's blog lostempires, livingtribes] and saying that his favourite Van album is Into the music. I've been playing Wavelength for ages. So I got out my vinyl copy of Into the Music. As Matt promised, side 2 hasn't left the turntable: Angeliou. And the healing had begun. It's all in the game. You know what they're talking about. I'm in a trance-like state...

And when there's no more words to say about love I go
Meet me down, meet me down
Meet me down by the river
Meet me down by the water
Meet me down by the pylons...

wild flowers

I met up with the bishop yesterday to talk about the latest in seeking funding for mayBe. I'd written a couple of weeks ago with some suggestions as to how we might go forward if no funding partner is found [as is the case at this moment]. This was the follow up meeting, and various of those ideas seem good to work on. We found ourselves talking about the Diocese's emerging church projects as being small but bright wild flowers. More as this story unfolds.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mhairi is a local girl

I spent Monday afternoon this week with a group of students from the Oxford Centre of Youth Ministry. I'd been asked by OCYM to give a session on the Celtic Christian tradition. See the pic of us on South Park where we created an act of worship drawing on the tradition. mayBe is not a self-consciously Celtic community, but many of the emphases of the tradition [as much as we can know anything about it] can be seen in our life. I've been doing some research in Carmina Gadelica recently - the amazing volume of prayers, blessings and incantations collected in the Highland and Islands of Scotland in the mid to late 19th Century by one Alexander Carmichael. He realised that a vital tradition which had been passed down orally through the generations - possibly from as far back as Columba and his contemporaries - was on the verge of being lost, and set about collecting the evidence before it disappeared. One of the things that I found there is the sense that the saints and angels, the heroes of scripture, and even Jesus himself are very close. They are amongst us. They are earthy, local, and friends. Mhairi is a local girl who milks the cows. I like this. It makes our calling to follow in their footsteps somehow more possible, more practical, more vital. We can be saints too...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Our son James is 21. As of 5.15am yesterday. He started very small. Now he's almost 5 inches taller than me. I love him so much. We had a family meal out last night as we do for everyone's birthday. We talked about times good and times not so good. Of football in the garden - how many games did we play? I miss that. I hadn't realised before he spoke of it last night quite how hard he had found us moving from Cambridge aged 11 [when I had finished residential training.] Ouch, revelations like that cut deep to a parent. Did we do the right thing by our kids? Anyhow, somehow he's emerged from it all very lovely, with a great sense of fun, and very good company. This pic is of him around age 8 or 9.

Mark = Hemingway?

Holy Week and Easter 07. Perhaps because some of the open-endedness surrounding the next steps for us in mayBe, this year the Holy season seemed very close-up. Connected. Intimate. The foot-washing ritual at Maunday Thursday's community meal was powerful. And funny. Bernadette was concerned that when she washed my feet we might find it all 'too sensual'. It was nice, even really nice, but both agreed not quite that nice. Good Friday's Stations of the Cross walk in Shotover was simple. We stopped every 10 minutes or so to hear an excerpt from Mark's Gospel. Is Mark the Hemingway of the Gospel writers? You know sparse, to the point, simple? He left us without comfort. Holy Saturday vigil [see the pic] brought a really important moment to our evolving life - Topsy's baptism, mayBe community's first. The rest of us splashed water on ourselves and lit candles as a sign of renewing our baptismal vows, or simply of wanting to be on the spiritual journey. We used Andrew Jones' brilliant idea of mixing some dangerous words of Jesus with the sigur Ros video for Glosoli. Niamh and Theo [aged 2 almost 3] leapt in manic fashion as the kids ran up the hill. Resurrection day was, for the first time in years that I can remember, a beautiful weather day. The Eucharist was simple, and, as is our tradition in mayBe [3 years old and we have traditions now] the final liturgical act on this day of resurrection was the throwing of a frisbee "with abandon". Everything looks a little different now...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

in the pit

In the pit. About 1.45am on the night between Maunday Thursday and Good Friday. Dreaming of course. Perhaps this comes from trying to 'live Holy Week'. Should come with a warning label. Tried to remember the words of a Psalm but couldn't. Words that may have been said by, and given strength to Jesus on the night before his death when he was held, possibly in a pit or cell under the house of the High Priest. You can visit the place in Jerusalem near the church of St Peter in Gallicantu. I've found the words now. It's Psalm 88. 'I am counted as those who go down to the pit; I am like those who have no help'. How good it is that the Psalms don't try to make everything better. They let it be.