Monday, February 25, 2008

try this improvisation [7]: Give me a drink

At yesterday's Eucharist on the Parks we were responding to the Gospel account of an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. There's banter between the 2, leading to a powerful moment when the woman asks Jesus for a drink of the water which, he has promised, will quench her thirst for ever. As the wine was shared at the Eucharist we used these words, with the person giving the cup saying the 2 lines beginning "Here..." and the person receiving saying "Give me..."

"[Name] Here you will never be thirsty."
"Give me a drink."
"Here you will never be thirsty."

There was some discussion about whether we should say "Give me a drink please" but in the end decided that we liked the urgency of the line on its own.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

mission-shaped questions: sacramental encounter

I'm reading the just-published Mission-shaped Questions from Church House Publishing, edited by Steve Croft. It's a kind of follow-up to the amazingly successful Mission-shaped Church report from 2004, and is a series of essays aimed at addressing some of the theological issues that have come out of fresh expressions of church since that time. There's an inspiring essay by Lindsay Urwin OGS who is Bishop of Horsham, which explores the role of sacramental ministry in fresh expressions. He sees the sacraments as essential. This is where people encounter 'fresh expressions of Christ' himself. He argues that in appropriate circumstances we need to make 'risky exceptions' to some of the usual rules governing sacramental ministry, and tells a moving story about an ordination for a youth congregation called Eden. Our own experience in mayBe backs this up. When we began in 2004 we had the freedom to go where we wanted with our worship, but found very rapidly that we were drawn to allowing the Eucharist to be at the centre. Simple but engaging, close but mystery-filled, we keep re-discovering that in this sharing of bread and wine somehow the risen Jesus is present.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

feig and the cathedral

It was very good to catch up with Michael Volland when he came to Oxford on Monday. Michael is a Pioneering Minister in the C of E and has started feig - a small emerging missional community in Gloucester. Good on the Diocese of Gloucester and Gloucester Cathedral for creating space to make this happen. Michael has been given 7 years housing, stipend and freedom to shape feig, and is doing his curacy in the Cathedral. This is really imaginative use of cathedral resources. Feig are shortly going to be using the cathedral coffee shop for some kind of connecting point with the local community. Should be good - will be interesting to see how this develops.

Monday, February 18, 2008

a wider role

Things seem to be coming together for the next stage on my journey. From April, with the blessing of mayBe community and our bishop the idea is that I will be spending around 40% of my time in my mayBe role, and the rest getting involved more widely in encouraging more new emerging church stuff to happen. I hope to do this in various ways including mentoring, resourcing, facilitating and writing. This feels very exciting and positive. And also good for mayBe, which has a well established pattern of life, a very good team of guardians and lots of good possibilities coming up. I'll post more on this as some of the details become clearer.

try this improvisation [6]: what is faith?

This weekend the Lent scripture readings got us thinking about the nature of faith. At our Eucharist on Sunday afternoon on South Park looking down into the city [on another beautiful day] we did a simple ritual trying to to explore the possibility that faith is stepping into the stream of what God is already doing. That faith is not primarily about our faith in God, but about God's faith in us.... We laid out a big V shape with rope on the grass, and then one by one stepped into the V at the narrow opening facing down into the city. Simple, seemed to work. Niamh , who is 3, said she liked this game.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jane & Tom

Jane and Tom have decided to get married. I took this pic of them at Greenbelt last summer. May the sun always shine on you....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

you are loved

It's Valentine's day.

Moot's lenten journeys

Really enjoyed being with Ian and the guys from Moot yesterday at the opening night of their lenten journeys:beyond the wilderness event at the SW1 Gallery in Victoria. Some really good stuff is being shown, and great to see the connections being made between art, spirituality and locality. The programme for the rest of the event from now until 21 February looks very good too. Well worth a visit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

distinctly welcoming: more on Archbishop/Sharia

Richard Sudworth, who is a CMS mission partner working a multi-faith context in Birmingham, has posted some very good and helpful stuff on the Archbishop/Sharia controversy on his blog distinctly welcoming. Richard argues that 'if we are not careful, we will find ourselves advocating for what Lesslie Newbigin called a "naked public square": devoid of the language of faith and thus prey to totalitarianism and naked greed. Alternatively, jostling for prime position on a pedastal of privilege, pushing off the awkward squad of other religions that want to make their presence felt undermines our faith and, in the process, neuters the public square from the rigour of genuine challenge.' Richard urges instead 'another way forward in Christian faithfulness.' It's got me wondering if we need to find more active ways of engaging in public life that are not 'law-down' but based on 'ground-up' change for good coming from faith-communities and individuals.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

love the 6 Nations

I love the 6 Nations. Is there a better tournament in any sport anywhere? Last year I missed a lot of the games, so this year I am trying to make sure I see as many as possible. France v Ireland yesterday was a cracker, and I'm really looking forward to Italy v England today. Shane William's try for Wales v Scotland wasn't a try - but it was brilliant.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

into Lent

Lent has begun. This year there will be for me I think a particularly interesting, and probably demanding, link to the material that I am reading from the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Here's a typically testing saying which I am musing on at the moment, from [the perhaps aptly named] Alonius: 'If I had not destroyed myself completely, I should not have been able to rebuild and shape myself again'. The pic is of a drain cover I saw last weekend.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Archbishop and Sharia controversy

I am trying to work out what to make of Archbishop Rowan's suggestion yesterday that the 'application of Sharia might be unavoidable' within the UK legal system.

I guess there are more than a few things to be fed up about in this country at the moment - like the Premier League playing exhibition games around the world for guess what.... yet more cash. But one of the truly great, enduring, hopeful characteristics that makes the United Kingdom still such a special place to count as home is the real freedom that we share because we all live under the one common law, a law that aims to protect everyone equally, regardless of background, status or religion. Remember Magna Carta from school? In the UK no-one is above the law - a law that has, broadly speaking, worked well for this nation over the centuries. In a liberal democracy, in theory, the common law creates the space in which all religions can thrive, and guarantees the freedom of individuals to pursue any religion or none.

I think that Archbishop Rowan's aim is to champion the place of religion in public life. But Trevor Phillips of the Equality and Human Rights Commission is worried about the potentially divisive nature of allowing a separate legal system to operate. It's important to look at the Archbishop of Canterbury's website for an explanation of the nuances in what he was saying. But I wonder if in the current world context arguing for application of religious law - of any religion - could be problematic? Sharia seems to be capable of being outworked in many different ways, some of which seem to be far from benign to women, children, gay people or other religious minorities. Our bishop John, the Bishop of Oxford has just released a response which highlights the Judaeo-Christian foundations of UK law and urges care and caution. Archbishop Rowan's suggestions and the debate that is ensuing will deserve time and attention.