Thursday, December 25, 2008

holy child

The holy child is born. God with us. And almost unnoticed, everything changes.

Some wisdom from Meister Eckhart from mayBe's Eve of the Nativity eucharist:
What good is it to me,
if Mary gave birth
to the Son of God,
and I do not also give birth to him
in my time and

May the joy, peace and hope of the Holy Family be yours, for the world, today.

[I took this picture of light shining through cloud last New Year at Thurlestone, South Devon]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

waiting time

Still the waiting time of Advent. I love this pic by Heidi Hausmann. Fruitful for meditation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

the desolate city and Zephaniah

I'm finding the act of working on this week's morning bell very hopeful. I've never spent much time before with the book of the prophet Zephaniah from the Jewish scriptures. But this text, which the scholars seem to think dates from the latter part of the 7th century BC in the setting of Jerusalem feels like it could have been written now, in any number of places across the world. It's an agonised piece of writing from a city left desolate by the folly of its people, with particular blame attributed to those in positions of power. The words of God 'therefore wait for me' are the turning point in the text [3:8]. Through the time of trial comes 'a people humble and lowly' who will seek God and bring change. The book finishes with an image that perhaps inspired Jesus, who would have been familiar with the writing:'I will gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise'. Zephaniah - a prophet for our times. Saying it as it is, sparing us nothing of the desolation, but holding out hope if we decide to live differently.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Coventry pilgrimage: links to pics and stories

Here are some promised links to the Fresh Expressions National pilgrimage day at Coventry cathedral last week. There's a report on the Fresh Expressions website. Rory Keegan gives his perspective in a very readable post on the CPAS Church leadership blog. Norman Iveson has put some of his pics on Media Fire.

Monday, December 15, 2008

kids-inspired eucharist

mayBe's first kids-inspired Eucharist on Sunday. mayBe has always aspired to be an all age community, and we try to make what we do accessible to all ages wherever possible. This was the first time that we really tried to help our children [a few months - 4 years] to be involved in planning, shaping and making the eucharist. Rachel and Sam brought it all together. I thought it was great - and the plan is to do the same again in the next cycle. Next time we'd like a bigger space. Soundtrack music was baby Mozart.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fresh Expressions National Pilgrimage day

Very good to be involved in Monday's Fresh Expressions National Pilgrimage day at Coventry Cathedral. The idea of the event was to engage with the catholic and sacramental streams in the Church of England, encouraging re-imagination of what church can be in those traditions. The Archbishop of Canterbury was with us for the day. mayBe was one of the groups involved. We did a prayer station called 'Mary's yes' which offered a simple act of prayer, adding a fragment to a big 'yes' on the ground, and a blessing with water. We used this mayBe icon of the Annunciation painted by Rachel Yates at one of our Eucharists. I was also involved in a workshop/seminar with Stuart, Abbot of the Benedictine priory formerly at Burford, now en slow route to Worcestershire. We are going to be continuing our conversation. I'm looking forward to seeing pictures from the day. I'll post links as soon as they appear.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

CMS acknowledged community and Daily Prayer

Very good news this week for CMS, with whom I am doing some work at the moment. We have been officially recognised by the Church of England as a community of mission - the offical status is ‘acknowledged community’. This represents both a significant evolution - from a mission organisation to a community of mission - and perhaps also a return to roots. In its beginnings 200 years ago the society seemed to have had a real community feel - emerging from a socially engaged group of Christ-followers known as the Clapham Sect, which included the great anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce.

I’m excited that part of my role in my current work with CMS is to help us make this transition to community. Earlier this week we introduced a form of Daily Prayer for CMS to the staff at Oxford. We used it at Monday morning staff prayers, and it seemed to go well. This is something I’ve been working on with Gill Poole and Mark Berry. We’ve drawn on the story and experience of CMS to come up with a starting point. Our hope is that the world-wide CMS community will contribute to its evolution, and that it will shape us as a community as we use it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


I'm really pleased to blog about a new enterprise that I'm involved in as one of my pace bene projects. It's a collaboration with my buddy Matt Rees. It's called StillPoint and the idea is that it we provide resources and spaces for people to engage in the practise of Christian spirituality. The primary focus will be the exploration of the contemplative and mystical streams of the Christian tradition. We're planning to offer classes, conferences, artistic events and prayer spaces. We've managed to put together what we hope will be a really promising set of happenings in 2009, including a conference with Martin Laird, author of the brilliant 'Into the Silent Land'. Launch night is planned for Wednesday 4 March at the Phoenix cinema in Jericho. We've got film and music-maker Jamie Catto who is one half of One Giant Leap coming to the launch - we are going to interview Jamie and show some of their stuff. If you'd like an invitation and would like to go on our mailing list please email me.

Jeremy Begbie

Great to be in Cambridge last night for the farewell do for Jeremy Begbie. Musician, theologian, professor and preacher, Jeremy is a mentor to me and many others. He has been at Ridley Hall for over 20 years, and now is taking a post at Duke University, North Carolina. During the evening, mixed in with the speeches, presentations and prayers, Jeremy took us on brilliant journey playing at a grand piano the music from Rachmaninov, Debussy, and Liszt. I really recommend his wonderful book 'Theology, Music and Time'. This week in morning bell I am going to be thinking about time, and I'll be referring to some of the work that Jeremy has done in this area in through his practise and reflection in and around music.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

try this improvisation [12]: yes we can!

Last week at mayBe's eucharist on South Park we took the 'audience response' from President-elect Obama's acceptance speech and used it as a prayer-cry-statement for how we would like to see God's better world coming now, both local and global. We heard the passage from St Luke's gospel where Jesus reads from the scroll in the synagogue:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Then we brought this into a conversation with a segment of Obama's speech:
There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.
I promise you, we as a people will get there.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

Finally we spoke out the changes we each are hoping for, and used this response:
in God's good care ALL: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

Monday, November 17, 2008

morning bell week 31: body prayer

My own early education in prayer was almost exclusively in the context of words. My work with people around prayer has shown me that I am far from alone in that experience. Words, of course are important, and they are a gift to us in prayer. But we are not just connected with God through words. We are physical creatures on a God-blessed earth. And right at the centre of the great story of God told in the Christian faith is the astonishing idea that God came to us in earthy-body form, Jesus of Nazareth.

So this week’s morning bell is taking as its starting point the possibility that our prayer can be a physical thing. I am going to be offering some of the simple body prayer practices that I use and find helpful. My prayer is that as morning bell-ers and I do this together we may discover that the ever-creative God is closer than we can imagine.

morning bell for day one this week explores how to allow our walking or running to become a prayer. You can get morning bell here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

small missional communities with CMS

I've just started a 3 month part-time project with CMS. A key part of the project is helping to encourage and resource new small missional communities. I think that one of the great things that CMS can offer in this context is a global perspective, both in terms of their experience of how the Church is engaging in mission in the emerging context world-wide, and in sharing a Jesus who is for all cultures, all peoples, all times. We are organising a 24 hour conversation at High Leigh in January for people interested in forming small missional communities. Please get in touch with me if you think you might like to come.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

full-on Sigur Ros

On Friday night Gail and I went to see Sigur Ros at the Colston Hall Bristol. You know that feeling of anticipation you get about seeing a band that you really like for the first time? They were very very good. I hadn't expected them to be so visceral and strong. There's a fragility to some of their recorded stuff, but this was full-on. Buddies Matt and Jim from hOME were there too.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

hope-filled day

What a hope-filled day! Barack Obama is elected US president. The first African-American president. A tangible sense of change for good. Everything becomes possible. This is the kingdom season in the Church year - reminding us that God's better world of love, peace and justice is breaking in and breaking out all around us, here and now. Obama's election is surely a sign of that hope-filled happening.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

blah: becoming of G-d

Very good to have Ian Mobsby at our second blah in Oxford last night at the Phoenix cinema. Ian has done lots of thinking around the implications and possibilities that emerge if God is Trinity. Much thought-provoking stuff and a feisty debate. You can order his book the becoming of G-d.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

morning bell week 28: Hassan Dehqani-Tafti

This week the morning bell is taking inspiration from one of the Christian communities of the East. We are working with a prayer by the Iranian bishop Hassan Dehqani-Tafti, who died earlier this year. He was the Anglican Bishop in Iran from 1961 to 1990. He had to spend the last 11 years of that time in exile following a shooting attempt on his life in 1979 in which his wife was wounded. The following year his only son, 24-year-old Bahram, was murdered. This prayer by Hassan Dehqani-Tafti is a deeply personal prayer born out of struggle, and yet it has a real capacity to become a prayer for many, and something perhaps that may change us as we pray it.

Bacharach: genius

Really enjoying the Electric Proms on BBC iplayer. Last night I watched the Oasis gig, which includes a storming version of the Beatles I am the walrus - and the Burt Bacharach performance. I hadn't realised quite how many brilliant songs had been written by Burt Bacharach, often with Hal David. I know some people dismiss them as easy listening, but I think he had a real gift. See what you think.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

morning bell week 27: John

I’ve really enjoyed reading ‘John’ - the latest novel by Niall Williams [published by Bloomsbury in the UK]. It’s a poetic, imaginative and compelling story about the aged disciple John at the end of his remarkable life.

The letter in the New Testament that we know as 1 John is traditionally believed to be authored by this John, and will form the starting point for this week’s morning bell. John’s reflections on the life of Jesus and on the nature of God in this letter are a deep source of possibility for our praying and being.

re-imagine the world: mayBe in the cathedral

mayBe's re-imagine the world creative space event in Christ Church cathedral seemed to go well on Friday. Great to have everyone contributing somewhere in its making. Lots of visitors. You can see more pics on flickr from Dave and Rich.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

change ! workshop

Gail and I are doing a new workshop series in November. It's called change! and it's aimed at helping us make the bold and generous changes that will be good for us, and for the people and world around us. Change is on Tuesdays in November and you can book via Gail's website.


The daily morning bell call to prayer has a different theme each week. In tough times my experience is that I can tend to become inward looking, and live as if scarcity is the prevailing state of things. This week the morning bell call to prayer is a call to remain [or become] generous. To let abundance have its way. Hope I can practise this. The pic 'happy' is from Sr Corita Kent - and seems to have an abundant, more than enough, plenty feel to it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blah no2 in Oxford - Ian Mobsby 28 October

The first Blah in Oxford was with Jonny Baker and a very good thing it was. The next Blah event in Oxford is coming up later this month at 8pn Tuesday 28 October, again ain the bar of the Phoenix Picture House in Jericho. It's with Ian Mobsby from Moot in London. Ian has written a great book on how our understanding of God as being Trinity can shape our spirituality and shared community life. No need to book - just come along and buy a drink at the bar. See you there!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Prayer day with Moot

I'm looking forward to leading a 'developing prayer' day run by Moot in London on Saturday 25 October. You can make a booking here. The pic is of one of my favourite prayer places on the Isle of Mull. I'll be talking about prayer on the day, but the really vital thing will be our working with some prayer practises.

Francis's only concern

Fr Richard Rohr's webcast on Saturday - the feast day of St Francis - was inspiring. 'Francis's only concern' he said 'was to imitate Jesus'. And Richard urged us, in the spirit of the saint to 'never seek to be undespised'[!] The talk is going to be made available soon at Center for Action and Contemplation

Friday, October 03, 2008

mayBe in the cathedral

Really looking forward to our first collaboration with Christ church Cathedral Oxford. Here's the flyer and info:
On Friday evening 17 October experimental Christian faith community mayBe will be working in the ancient and beautiful spaces of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford. Starting at 7.45pm, there will be various places set up around the cathedral offering creative space in which to engage with the vital possibility of 're-imagining the world': prayer-engage stations, a conversation space, candle-lighting, and a collective piece of art-making. There will be ambient and live music, wisdom from the Christian contemplative-active traditions, a eucharist and blessing, and hospitality. The entrance to Christ Church is via the the big Tom Tower Gate entrance on St Aldates. For more info please get in touch with Ian on 01865-723544 or 07889906983. Or you can email us:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

St Francis: turning the world on its head

On Saturday we celebrate St Francis day. If you receive morning bell from me you will have realised how vital a companion St Francis can be if, like me, you are seeking to follow in the way of Christ in uncertain times. I'm really looking forward to a webcast that my Franciscan teacher and mentor Fr Richard Rohr is giving on Saturday. You can register here - there's a recommended donation of $5 and it closes in a few hours time.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tom n Jane in the Priory

It was wonderful to be asked to do Jane and Tom's marriage blessing in the ruins of Much Wenlock Priory. This seemed to be a one-off experiment for English Heritage who look after the site, so perhaps it was one of the first services held there since the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. mayBe led some chants - I hope the monks were smiling, even singing with us. The rest of the weekend was magnificent - we all stayed on a camp/cabin site with ceilidh, welly-wanging, mass tug-of-war, and story-telling. Well done T+J who pretty much organised it all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

harvest resources

I've been doing some work with CMS over the summer, including work on material for use at Harvest Festival/thanksgiving services. The resources are linked to stories from CMS in Sudan. You can access the material on the CMS website.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

on the floor with Taize @Greenbelt

2 weeks ago tonight at the same time I am writing this post I was lying on the floor. I was at the back of the balcony of the big Centaur venue at Greenbelt during Taize worship. The lying on the floor thing began for me about 4 years ago when I discovered that I had no more words for prayer. It's a practise I have kept returning to ever since, a real reminder that prayer is a 'being with' thing. You might like to try it?

The Taize community - and the late Br Roger - have been a great help to me for, I guess, at least 15 years. I love their prayerfulness, hospitality and devotion, worked out in a monastic life fully engaged with the world around them. There's a beautiful mix of depth and simplicity in their approach to worship. Br Roger always said that the repetition in their singing of chants means that the song will continue in our lives after we stop singing. May this be so...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Church of Scotland

Really enjoyed being with a group from the Church of Scotland earlier this week. The group was organised by David Currie who has responsibility for encouraging emerging/fresh expressions in the Church of Scotland. I met David a few years ago at an event when people in emerging type situations met with Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham. It was good to meet up again. Also to good to meet up again with John and Olive Drane, and to meet Jarred, John and Neil for the first time. It was good, in the week of St Aidan's day, to be able to thank them for all the good people and influences that the Scots have shared with us in the past. From a personal point of view they include St Aidan, who came from Iona to Lindisfarne, the Iona Community - a big influence on mayBe - and Glasgow's Late Late Service, whose inventive liturgies were an inspiration me in the mid 90s. Looking forward to seeing what really good things come in to being next in Scotland...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Brian McLaren

It was very good to meet Brian McLaren for the first time at Greenbelt - a lovely and inspiring man. I'd read and enjoyed a couple of his books - 'Generous Orthodoxy' and 'A New Kind of Christian' - a few years back. I was also able to ask him some questions regarding his perception of what's happening in the UK for a piece I'm writing for a new journal being put together by Fresh Expressions. The megaphone pic of Brian was at his first talk at Rise when the electrics failed. Brian's latest book is 'Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope'. Looks very good - and a great title!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


On the Monday morning at Greenbelt Gail and I went to a very good seminar on addiction by Clare Catford. Clare is a journalist and member of Moot. This is just my hunch from self-observance but I guess that most of us either have or could very easily have addictions of some kind. Clare spoke really openly about her stuff and you could sense that she was connecting into many people's experience. Clare has a book out called 'Addicted to love' which is getting rave reviews from readers on Amazon. It made me think that it might be good to do a cycle exploring addiction in mayBe - I'm going to make the suggestion and see where it goes. If so I'm hoping that we may be able to get Clare to come and be with us.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Nadia, House, and Salvation on the Small Screen?

The rolling blog about Greenbelt continues. The weekend began with a shared journey to the festival with Nadia Bolz-Weber. Great to catch up and hear how House for All Sinners and Saints is getting on. Nadia and Matthew visited us a couple of years ago and the conversation ever since has been a sustaining thing. I'm really looking forward to getting her book Salvation on the Small Screen from Amazon [available now on pre-order.] Nadia spent 24 hours watching religious TV with friends and the book was born. Should be good!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Si Smith and the Hub

I really enjoyed the arty stuff that went on the in the Hub at Greenbelt, much of it in the care of Si Smith. Si is pictured here with the prints by 6 artists [including mayBe's Cara Heafey] who contributed to the art for all idea. Si's print is the circular one in the middle, Cara's is the one far right. The other pics are of the wildly popular self-portrait section in the Hub, and the story-telling care of Proost using Si's excellent '40'. Keep on Si!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

David Dark and the space of the talk-aboutable

5 years ago I read a book that really helped me to understand what the project I as working on - an idea for an emerging church community [which evolved into mayBe] - could become. The book was 'Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, the Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons' and the author was David Dark. Since then, whenever the possibility of giving up has seemed attractive, this book has been one of the places of light that I have revisited to remember why I am doing what I am doing, and why it's worth keeping going. So it was wonderful to be able to meet David at Greenbelt. No surprise - he's a lovely man, as well as wise, insightful, and great company. In one of his talks he spoke about Greenbelt being a space of the talk-aboutable - a place where we can muse together about the possibility of life, without there needing to be a fixed destination. Gail took this pic.

Friday, August 29, 2008

heh that's one of my pics!

I was sat with Gail listening to Brian Mclaren on Friday at Greenbelt and suddenly realised that a guy in front of me had a magazine with a picture of mine on the front cover - the Church Times Greenbelt guide. It was a pic I took in the summer of my friend StevieB. Really good to see it being used, though it might have been nice to be asked or credited [or is that just me needing affirmation?!] Here's the magazine version and my original.

mayBe flash mob

On the Saturday evening at Greenbelt mayBe did a flash mob event: 'way of the sun 2.' The idea was to create a human rising sun and take pics from the grandstand. Of course it rained as we did it. It was fun, and it worked - see these pics from Dave Richards.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

with Feig in the cathedral

Great to be with feig in their home in Gloucester cathedral on Thursday night before Greenbelt. I took the pic as we went into the cathedral via the Pilgrim door. It was really good to catch up with lots of other people doing emerging church type stuff. Big thanks to Michael and the feig people for hosting this. A highlight was walking a labyrinth with music on the hang drum from Philip and Gill Roderick from Contemplative Fire. Really made me look forward to mayBe's first Eucharist in Oxford cathedral coming up in October - I'll be blogging about that closer to the time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Greenbelt 08

Back from Greenbelt. Very good times - think I'll blog a piece a day for a few days because there's so much to work with. mayBe did a contemplative Eucharist on Saturday afternoon, based around a story written by some mayBe people from their own lived experience, intermingled with words of Jesus and wisdom from wiser-travelers-than-us. Seemed to go well. Feels a real privilege to share our life in some way with a wider community. Here's some pics by Dave Richards.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Really looking forward to Greenbelt Festival. This has always been an inspiring event for me and I'm sure it will be the same again this year. mayBe is doing 2 things, both called 'way of the sun:' a contemplative Eucharist 3pm Saturday in New Forms and a flash mob event on Saturday evening. This pic is one we will be using - taken by mayBe's Andrea it's of a figure on Holy Island of St Cuthbert. For us on Saturday it will symbolise the presence of Christ. Also looking forward to catching up with Nadia - she's staying with Matt and Pipp tonight then on to the festival with me via the event in Gloucester hosted by feig. See you over the weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

a turning stones thing

This week I've taken some time out for writing. It's been a kind of turning stones experience. I found some interesting things flowing from the book of Lamentations, which I am using this week for morning bell. If what I am doing is helpful I hope that it will find its way to people in some way in the near future.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Feast of the Transfiguration

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. Jesus-the-man is revealed, brilliantly, as divine. The Orthodox churches have made much more of this event than the churches of the West. Their focus reminds us that the Transfiguration is really worth our attention. It suggests that there is something much more profound going on than may appear on the surface of our day to day existence...

Monday, August 04, 2008

wet Eucharist - then the Isis

Last night mayBe's Eucharist was in rather autumnal conditions on Iffley Meadows. The brave few were joined by a herd of enthusiastic bullocks. This is a fairly frequent occurrence for mayBe - wherever we do Eucharist animals seem to want to join in. All very St Francis for about 5 minutes, then we decided that slow retreat was the best policy. [Don't run - they run after you]. Followed by post-Eucharist refreshment in the former Isis tavern, now a licensed cafe, the Isis Farmhouse. The consensus was that the meadow and farmhouse would be a good regular venue for mayBe's stuff. I think we'll be back soon.