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.