Sunday, November 29, 2009

morning bell - with the Benedictus

This week the Church begins a new year and enters the season of Advent. In Advent the Church has traditionally prayed with the Benedictus - the great song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptiser, from the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. This week’s morning bell does the same. I'm going to try to let it carry my prayers this week, and to learn it through repetition. It's well worth checking out the story of Zechariah in Luke 1, and see how the song came into being.

THE SONG OF ZECHARIAH - Benedictus Domine

Bless├Ęd be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
born of the house of his servant, David.

Through his holy prophets, he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all that hate us;

He promised to show mercy to our forebears,
and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father, Abraham,
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight,
all the days of our life.

You, my child,
shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

To give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of all their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

ways into small missional community [10] a transparent, light and freeing framework

here's the next in my series on creating communities of the great community-maker...

If you’ve followed this series you’ll know that I encourage people to look out for a few others who share similar hopes to be committed to the project with you [see ways into smc [1] starting out in company]. I also encourage smc’s to find a bigger place of belonging of some sort - for encouragement, shared learning and some accountability - be it diocese or parish, network or circuit, or a wider community of mission like CMS.

When you set out on a new venture like this, one of the delights is the freedom to imagine and shape the thing as you go. The three or four of you, over a coffee, in the pub or over a meal. This is good! Enjoy the freedom and the creativity of this early phase. You will then reach a point, sooner than you might imagine, where it’s really important to work out a framework for how decisions will be made in the longer term.

I’m not advocating any particular type of organisation. That will depend on the sort of people you are, the nature of the project-community and your setting. But here are a few key principles that I find helpful:

- trust people: involve everyone in the framework-finding process
- seek transparency: make sure that any framework will show everyone very clearly how decisions are made and who makes them
- keep the framework light and freeing: aim for simplicity and remember it only exists to help the community to live out it’s calling
- put the framework in place with some provisionality: agree to try it out, and revisit it after a period and ask how it is working
- treasure listening: make sure that everyone has a voice in decision-making
- aim for consensus in the big issues: allow for any really big decision to be made by consensus
- find wise guidance: give to some wise, prayerful and humble person in the community a role to include calling a provisional way forward should there ever be a real impasse - in my experience this is very rarely needed if deep attention is paid to the big idea [see ways into smc [2] ]and to the spirit of the community [see ways into smc [4] ]
- don’t create jobs for life: find a framework that allows people to move in and out of roles
- seek the Christ: remember where the community belongs...

peace to you

Friday, November 20, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

StillPoint story

Good to see a story on StillPoint - the project that Matt Rees and I run together - in the latest edition of e-xpressions. You can view the story written by Ian Mobsby from an interview with us here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ernesto's art

It was good to do some work with artist-priest Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga Steele last week. If you are in or around Oxford on Saturday it's the opening of Ernesto's new exhibition and the launch of his new book on Saturday night at the Ark-T in Cowley. Great work! The pic is Ernesto's Olive Tree III [2009]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

here's the tender coming

Really enjoying 'here's the tender coming' by the Unthanks. Brilliant. Thanks Cara.

Monday, November 09, 2009

ways into small missional community [9] earthy good news?

Here's the latest in the series of posts I'm doing for the Small Missional Communities project on starting and sustaining new project-communities

This latest post in the ‘ways into small missional community’ series is an exercise in [re]discovering roots and imagining the future.

The great story of Jesus is known as ‘Gospel’ - which means ‘good news’. So it may be important to ask how Jesus could be good news where we are, in this place, for these people and for this setting.

It can be helpful to break this down into two questions:
first [and here’s the return to roots] ‘why is Jesus good news?’
then second [and here’s imagining the future] ‘so what could this good news look like here?’

We may have lots of responses to the roots question. But what might that lead to? How is the good news felt and tasted, lived and experienced? In the task of creating Christ-following missional communities we need to discover earthy ways of expressing and living the good news where we are.

An example: one of many possible answers to the roots question might be to say that Jesus is good news because he shows us that God is love. Now there’s wonder in that idea - it’s perhaps the most beautiful of all equations - but how do we say it and live it in ways that are more than cliche or jargon? The imagined future question takes us into the earthy business of how God’s love could be lived and experienced here. What might that actually look like ‘on the ground’? How could 'God's love' be shared and encountered in real ways in this neighbourhood or network? What can you imagine happening?

So why is Jesus good news for you? And what could the good news look like where you are - in, around and through the community-project of which you are part, or of which you are dreaming?

StillPoint meditation

Matt will be hosting a StillPoint meditation happening tonight 9pm @ssMary+John on Cowley Road Oxford - will be really good!