Sunday, January 31, 2010
Really looking forward to the second StillPoint stations of the cross exibition at the Jam Factory in Oxford. We've got 14 great artists with an inspiring mix of styles each producing an art piece based on one of the traditional 'stations of the cross' - an ancient practise of entering the universal story of the passion of the Christ. Opening night is Friday 26 March and then it's on for almost a month.
Friday, January 29, 2010
here's the latest in my series of posts I'm offering on small missional communities online:
Here’s an interesting task that comes in creating and sustaining a new Christ-following community: how can we find ways to make the life of the community both accessible to anyone who might just want to explore or visit, and at the same time enable others who want to commit themselves to do so. Can accessibility and commitment happen in the same space?
One possible route is to nurture a way of seeing the life of the community as being like a journey, and picturing the community as a traveling band, perhaps like a bunch of medieval pilgrims. So the community is not understood as a fixed entity. People join the traveling band and find a welcome to share the journey for as long as that works for them. Some may become committed to the journey and to this traveling band. Others will share the path for a while and then find another way. Some will join and leave and rejoin at different points. The key [and at times demanding] thing is to grow a sense that this fluidity is OK.
If the offer of fluid access is important, so is the possibility of commitment to sharing the journey with the community, and space for commitment to following the Christ. Communal vows are one possibility. My experience is that these need to arise from the community in reflection, prayer and conversation - definitely not imposed - and are best offered for a reasonable but limited and renewable period of time, like a year. Another way is to offer people the opportunity to commit themselves to a particular community project or task. This will probably be a shorter time span - an event, a month’s activity, or a festival season. And of course some kind of disciple-formation [catechumenate] is another route.
In the gospel of Luke chapter 7 Jesus is pictured teaching the disciples, surrounded by a larger and involved audience of interested onlookers - perhaps another helpful picture of the possibility of both accessibility and commitment...
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
If you are looking for ways to help and be alongside the suffering people of Haiti:
- offer financial help via agencies such as Christian Aid Oxfam and Unicef
- resources to be alongside the people: I'm reading chapter 1 of the book of Lamentations in the Jewish scriptures/Christian Old Testament, which laments for a city and people devastated - look out for the slender thread of hope in chapter 3
- for a ritual to accompany prayer how about scattering a pile of old bricks or stones, light small candles or nightlights amongst them, say a prayer as you do so and go into silence....
Thursday, January 14, 2010
here's the latest of my pieces on small missional community for CMS - reflecting on the place of the Eucharist:
Stillness for reflection, bread and wine shared, sacred words spoken. Jesus the Christ left us a practise that has continually shaped the huge variety of communities that have sprung up seeking to follow him and his way - what we might know as the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, Eucharist, or the Mass.
For many this has become the central act of Christian community, a weekly or even daily pivot point for all our activity and prayer, sensing that this is the time and place where we may be most open to God and to each other, and where we are nourished by Christ’s presence in a particular and mysterious way. For others it is a less regular activity, but important nevertheless, a deep remembering of the Jesus who died for the world and for each person. Wherever you find yourself in relation to the Eucharist I guess that you’ll probably agree that it is a vital ingredient in the life of a Christ-following community.
The question that we may well come across in the context of a small missional community is how we ‘do’ the eucharist? The issue soon arises for those coming from traditions where the priest, presbyter or ordained minister takes the presiding role in the eucharist. What does a small community do if it has no priest or ordained minister?
It seems important to me that we respect the tradition and guidelines of our particular setting and denomination. We are in a long line of people and communities who have walked this path before, and their learning and our place of belonging with them matters. So if for example that context calls for a priest to preside at eucharist, I suggest that we need to look for such a person[s], trusting that in God’s good care a priest will be found who will empathize with, relate to, and perhaps even belong to, the community.
There can also be a place in the life of a community for a simple meal where stories of Jesus are told, food and drink shared and prayers offered. It wouldn’t be described as Eucharist, but my experience is that such a meal can be a profound experience of human life and God’s presence, nurture and thanksgiving.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Looking forward very much to the next StillPoint event on Saturday 13 March in Oxford with Fr Gregory Fruehwirth of the Order of Julian of Norwich. He'll be offering insights and practises for the contemplative way flavoured by his long experience of living inspired by Julian. More info and booking via StillPoint.