Thursday, December 27, 2007

flesh and blood

This Christmas I've been reflecting on the earthiness of the incarnation. What was it like for the Holy Child? And what changes because of it? God with us, alongside us, one of us. If God comes in this way then God must come deep into the human condition. Flesh and blood. Capable of the best [and what a best]; of the worst [that possibility surely has to be there, though scripture and tradition are very clear that Jesus never took that option]; even, perhaps capable of the mediocre [question: did Jesus ever do anything half-heartedly?] Whatever it was like for the God-Man I find in the incarnation strength, hope and possibility. Whatever we face, God is truly with us, alongside us, one of us. Someone has travelled this way before.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

There she goes again: the Liverpool Nativity

I really enjoyed the Liverpool Nativity on BBC 3 on Sunday night. Produced by the same people as last year's Manchester Passion, the Nativity story is set in the present, recorded live in the city, and uses music from Liverpool's rich back catalogue [I loved Teardrop Explodes Reward and the La's There she goes]. The Mary and Joseph characters are played brilliantly by Jodie McNee and kenny Thompson, and lots of familiar Liverpool actors play in other roles. It's really good to see the great story 'out there' and being wondered at. If you didn't catch it you can see it again on BBC iPlayer

bishop's call

Very encouraged yesterday. Our new bishop John came to the deanery for the day. He facilitated a very good conversation with the clergy of the deanery at chapter in the middle of the day, and in the evening he spoke at deanery synod. The bishop talked about the current situation in terms of mission and called for us to create 'counter-cultural Christian communities', offering 'radical hospitality, generously engaged with the world around us, and passionate about God'. Sounds to me like a very important and timely call.

Monday, December 10, 2007

God help me

Last night was mayBe's Eucharist with Vows and Blessings for the coming year. Pics are from the evening. This is the third year we have done this, each time at the beginning of Advent. I find it a really a compelling moment. Our vows include elements taken from St Benedict's rule, and include learning that we have received from other great teachers like Br Roger and the Taize Community. For my role the opening question and required response get straight to the heart of things:

Q. As mayBe community we commit ourselves to believing and living in the one God has sent, Jesus Christ. Will you seek as our abbot to point the community at all times towards the one true light of the Gospel of Christ?
A: With God’s help and your prayers I promise to serve God and the community in this way.

I know this orientation of the community towards Christ must start close to home - with the demanding task that is me. May God, indeed, help me.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

try this improvisation [5]: Meister Eckhart's circle

Here's a ritual/improvisation that you might like to try the next time you are on a beach. We've done this on our latest mayBe retreats in October and November in South Devon. The starting point is this wisdom from the Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart [1260-1327]. He speaks in male language but we read it out in both female and male.

"A person who wishes to begin a good life should be like a man who draws a circle. Let him get the centre in the right place and keep it so and the circumference will be good. In other words, let a man first learn to fix his heart on God and then his good deeds will have virtue; but if a man's heart is unsteady, even the great things he does will be of small advantage".

To make the circles we found it worked best to tie 2 small sticks or screwdrivers at either end of a metre or 2 of fishing line or string. Put one stick firmly into the sand as your centre, then with the string tight, with the other stick make a circle [the circumference] in the sand around it. The circles may overlap if you want. Stand, sit or kneel at the centre of your circle, and let Meister Eckhart's words do their thing on you...