Sunday, January 30, 2005


on retreat the next couple of days at Stanton House just outside Oxford. can't wait.

Meet the Fockers

saw this last night. loved it. just as good as the first one i thought despite what some reviews have said. De Niro was brilliant as usual. Dustin Hoffman had me in stitches. Even Barbara Streisand was good. a great Saturday night movie.

Meet the Fockers
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Free Groove Armada CD.... today's Guardian Newspaper. 10 tracks - some by Groove Armada themselves (a live track 'At the River' + a couple of others) and then some tracks they've selected by other artists. definitely worth getting if you're passing a Newsagents.

Friday, January 28, 2005

habbo hotel

my previous link to the Habbo Hotel was broken - it is now fixed and you can get there from here too.Lent begins a week on Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) and we're going to run a weekly study group there, reading Christina Baxter's 'The Wounds of Jesus'.

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

emergent convention, San Diego

wish i was going to this. top range of speakers and seminars and general dudes and dudesses.

emergentYS Convention

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Online Lent Group in the Habbo Hotel

we're gonna run an online Lent Study group meeting weekly again this year in the Habbo Hotel. We'll meet once a week during Lent which starts on Ash Wednesday - Feb 9th this year. The book we've decided on is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book for 2005 - 'The Wounds of Jesus' by Christina Baxter, Principal of St John's Theological College in Nottingham. I'm not sure if something like the wounds of Jesus has ever been studied in the virtual world of the Habbo Hotel before.

welcome to our world

last night Pip and I hosted an 'orientation evening' for people who have been expressing an interest in getting connected to the community of hOME. we were surprsied and pleased to see 12 people turn up to our small house. i had prepared a very basic powerpoint presentation which i hoped to show from my Mac via an S-Video lead. only problem is that our TV will only display a PAL signal and Macs output is NTSC. newer tellies can cope with both. ours can't. so the presentation was in Black and White. Not that impressive then!
anyway, we survived. we're so pleased to be growing but it does mean we are faced with the usual challenge to integrate new people into our community. i guess these are the points where people (myself included) can hanker after 'the way it was' if we're not careful. But we are called to be a community that draws people into relationship with each other for the sake of the mission of God in Oxford (in all it's variety). I, for one, am looking forward to welcoming these new people to our world.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.
there is a DJ/Producer called Peyton and the more stuff of his that i hear the more i like. it's just great funky house on a gospel tip. we saw in the New Year this year dancing to his track 'Higher Place' (ably span by DJ Gareth) and there is a great track by him on the recent Hed Kandi release ('The Mix: Winter 2004) - both of which i think we'll be using in our worship sessions soon. Anyway, if you're intrigued to find out more about Peyton (who's got a very interesting background - raised in a hyper-Pentecostal environment) go to the Hed Kandi site here.

what I'm doing today

we're getting some beautiful sunny, crisp, winter days here at the moment and Oxford looks particularly beautiful when the weather's like this. so i'm going to stop working at home soon and relocate to the Bodleian library where i'm going to work on planning the upcoming hOME weekend away and also the hOME orientation evening tomorrow night. we've had quite a few people expressing an interest in joining hOME recently so we're gonna host an evening to give them a handle on what we're all about.
I'm also gonna hit Blackwells bookshop (consistently voted the best bookshop in the UK - it rocks) this afternoon to try and and find a good Lent book for us to read. Does anyone have any suggestions? We're gonna run an optional (isn't everything we do 'optional'?!) study group, meeting on-line at the Habbo Hotel each week during lent. last year we ran a group studying Nouwen's 'Return of the Prodigal Son' but we were hampered by poor technology so this year we are hoping for a better service from Habbo.

Friday, January 21, 2005

submission, U2 and Cholla Bread

i enjoyed last night's hOME-central worship focus service. the theme was the spiritual discipline of submission (which must have been a really odd one if you were coming to hOME for the first time). i tried to point out that it was the latest installment in a series we've been doing on the spiritual disciplines. we showed the film I'd made (a great excuse to learn how to use iMovie and iDVD). i was listening to the new U2 album the other day and as i was listening to the track, 'Sometimes you can's make it on your own' (which Bono wrote for his dad i think) it struck me that you could imagine God speaking these words to the human race (if you have the CD have a listen). also it kinda fitted in with the theme of the service so i used the Hebrews ? passage " much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live", and developed a kind of music video and burnt it on to DVD (so glad i decided to go for a Powerbook with a superdrive). i think it worked.
later on we celebrated communion with Cholla bread and a nice french Cabernet Sauvignon. when i was buying it in M&s's the guy ahead of me in the checkout queue said that it looked like a nice supper which led into an interesting conversation as i told him he was kinda right!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

quiet week on the rees blog

probably the quietest week since this blog started in fact. but it's not indicative of anything. just bin busy. Tai Chi on Monday night - followed by late night leadership meeting. it was great to see Rich Johnson yesterday when he escaped London for the day to see the Oxford posse. we had some good chat and talked about Ian Stackhouse's book - Gospel Driven Church - which is causing a bit of a storm at the moment. today I've met with my spiritual director this morning and taught a session for the guys spending a year working for the mother church (St Aldates). This evening I have finished a short film I've been making for the hOME worship service tomorrow night. i've been using iMovie and iDVD for the first time - they rock. never made a film before. never burnt a DVD of my own stuff before. hopefully it won't show tomorrow night. more details of the film after i've shown it.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

more apple eulogising - sorry!

ok - i promise this will be my last bit of Apple eulogising (at least for a while!). i was just reading an old post in one of my favourite blogs - that of Karen Ward, pastor of Church of the Apostles in Seattle. She says,
"if you wanna understand emerging pop culture and technology and find clues into emergent church praxis, *watch apple computer* and the ethos of their products (like garageband...). it is not by accident that many alt/emerging worship geeks have embraced apple products for making it easy to integrate video, music and graphics to use in making media art for the emerging church."

Friday, January 14, 2005

the new, contemplative, you

i think this is the year for going internal journey of the spirit...studying the spiritual disciplines has made me re-focus on what the mystics call 'the interior life'. this is key i think. i've had enough of shallow spirituality. never mind the width, feel the depth. i went to a Tai Chi class the other night. i know, i know, some of you will have issues or concerns with that. but i weighed up the pros and cons and made a decision that i am comfortable with. it's really about breathing, relaxation, and controlled movement. and the Christian tradition has been sooo poor when it comes to a spirituality of physicality. i want to recover something of that whole side of what it means to be a spiritual being; and seeing as there are so few resources for this within the Christian tradition i am happy to discerningly look elsewhere.
Last night in my huddle we were discussing the discipline of solitude and silence. and it occurred to me that i can't remember the last time i did nothing. now my wife would probably be surprised to hear me say that...but I'm talking about NOTHING AT ALL. e.g. sitting on a chair, no music on, not watching TV, not reading, not talking to anyone, NOTHING. and just waiting. i'm going to try it sometime this next week. i think perhaps I/we don't do that because we are afraid of what we may encounter. so we fill our lives and time with much clutter so we don't have to look too deeply within.
at the end of our huddle meeting we spent between 5 and 10 minutes in complete silence together as a group. it was rich and powerful.
silence, solitude, Tai Chi, retreat - these are going to be important things for me this year i think.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Being a new devotee of Apple i have been keeping an eye on the MacWorld event in San Francisco that's happening at the moment. this is the main event for Apple each year where they launch new products and software etc. Anyway, they have just announced and launched the above product - the iPod Shuffle. It's very, very weeny and light, plugs straight into your USB port on your computer and can hold about 250 songs which can be loaded randomly from iTunes or selected by you. There's no screen so the whole idea behind this product is you don't know what song you're gonna hear next - they're using the strapline : 'Give Chance a Chance'!. It's gonna be cheap too (starting at $99 - don't think it's released here yet). I think it's a great idea. More info here.

Monday, January 10, 2005

cultural relevance and compromise

the charge is occasionally levelled at those involved in emerging expressions of church, that "they have given up too much ground in order to be relevant". it's a comment that we should take seriously, and i welcome the challenge to think through what we are doing. i do want to say two things in response though.
firstly, the goal is not to be relevant. relevance still implies distance i.e. i'm not really like you but i'll try harder to be a bit more like you. i think that if we take incarnational mission seriously, cultural relevance becomes a bit of a misnomer. i mean, Jesus didn't have to try to be like a first century Jew - he was a first century Jew! Paul said, 'i became all things to all people in order that i might win some'. so the goal is not relevance but incarnation - not to become like those that God has called us to - to serve, heal and bless - but to become one with them.
but that's almost a bit of an aside - what about the main question...have we given up too much in our pursuit of this?
well, perhaps. there is a fine balance here. when a community is incarnated in a culture there will always be a danger of cultural capitulation and compromise. ironically, this is what i perceive happened during the enlightenment/reformation. here, the church, influenced by the values of the culture around it - and particularly by the enlightenment's obsession with the individual, reduced the gospel to a primarily individualistic notion i.e. it's about individuals becoming individual Christians, rather than being about the people of God for the sake of the world.
so, let he who is without sin be the first to cast the stone. let those who accuse the emerging church of selling out to the culture be careful to make sure that the theological tradition that they are proud to be a part of has not itself been compromised.

new leadership for a new year

at the beginning of 2005 we are having a bit of a leadership re-structure in hOME. as i blogged about a little while ago i am moving towards a more functional rather than positional view of leadership. with that in mind we have appointed a deacon and a warden for the community of hOME in a kind of retro type way. even tho we are part of the Anglican tribe we are not thinking of the role of deacon in the way it's usually used in the Anglican tradition. instead we are using it in the Acts 6 way - someone with responsibility for the distribution of food. so we have appointed Steve to serve as our deacon, catalysing the whole community into a greater degree of involvement in social justice issues etc. we have been making it clear that Steve will not be there to 'do' all the 'ministry to the poor' but rather to make us a community that is more involved in this kind of mission as a whole.
Jim, our new Warden (the term has already taken on Peter Kay undertones!) will watch over the borders of the community and also be involved in taking some responsibility for the finances of the community.
We are also hoping to appoint an artist-in-residence and maybe even a resident theologian too.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

companions on the journey

been away the last 24 hours reconnecting with 'my boys'. it's a little group i'm part of consisting of 4 of us that were in theological college together - me, Rog, Paddy, and Mark. we meet together 4 times a year and rotate round, visiting each other's homes in turn. this weekend we've been in Bristol at Roger's place. we don't always do this but this time 'the wives' came too. we had a lot of laughs and even a few tears and it's always so good to be with those guys and hear where we've got to on our journey, pray for, and prophesy over, each other etc. there really is no substitute for people who've walked with you over a period of time. i really appreciate those guys and the challenge and support that they bring to me. we had some tough stuff to talk about this time but i know that that's only gonna take us deeper and make the bonds stronger, so it's all good.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

the thinking behind busyness

brilliant piece from Jonny blogging from a Youthwork conference he's been on where one of the speakers shared some fascinating insights into why we prize busyness in church so highly. everyone in any form of church leadership MUST read this now!

He is a She

just found out today that our kitten is not a he but a she. this means we are going to have to readjust our language as we've been using entirely masculine language for him and calling him 'Dexter' (after Colin). i suppose we might just go for a neutral 'Dexie' as using a completely different name for him/her now would be just too wierd. hmmm. anyway, we took her for her first jabs today and as a result she has been asleep under the sofa upstairs all afternoon! ahhh drugs.

The Mother Ship

The Mother Ship
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

as a new convert to the cult of Apple I thought that it was appropriate to share the love by uploading a few photos from my visit to the Apple Store yesterday. What a great place. unlike any other store i've ever been to. i mean, when was the last time you went to a shop and there was a lecture theatre in it? i managed to get a slot with a genius (see photo of 'Genius Bar' below) - tho i had to wait for a cancellation as they were booked out for the whole day. Even tho the guy i saw was undoubtedly a Mac genius he wasn't able to solve my problem - to do with getting the bluetooth on my Mac to recognise my XDA as a phone rather than as a computer so i can send SMS messages from my computer - he was a nice guy anyway. I attended the worskhop on using GarageBand (a fantastic free music composing software suite that comes with new Macs) and learnt how to make tracks. I put my new skills to work on the bus on the way back to Oxford - composing a piece of music called 'Oxford Tube' - how original!
Si Kirby read my blog yesterday morning, found out i was coming to London for the day, phoned me up, and we met for coffee on the Tottenham Court Road after I'd spent 2 hours in the Apple Store.
It was great to see him and we had a good chat and put the world to rights.

Genei at work

Genei at work
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

me at the pilgrimage site

me at the pilgrimage site
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

we wuz robbed!

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

i've seen it all now! possibly the worst refereeing decision of all time. Spurs last night were denied a famous victory at Old Trafford by a terrible refereeing decision that denied us a goal that SO clearly was! Granted we were on the back foot most of the match - as you would expect to be at Old Trafford - but we defended so well, didn't get rattled, passed the ball around beautifully. LOOK AT THAT PHOTO ABOVE - how can anyone not see that the ball has crossed the line!!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

i've been re-converted!!

not in a spiritual sense! but i have finally made the switch to a Mac after getting a fantastic deal on a refurbished Powerbook from Apple. I have seen the light! and i think i can see what all the fuss is about! Today I am making a pilgrimage to the Apple Store in London where, amongst other things, I will be going to a workshop on how to use a fantastic program called GarageBand so that I can become the next Orbital. hmmm. seriously though, I'm hoping to use it to create new worship music for hOME.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

the anger of God

I was leading the morning service at our mother church (St Aldates) this morning (I am preaching there this evening) and as i led the intercessions which were obviously focused on the earhtquake and tsunami victims i found myself overcome with emotion. i found myself asking the congregation whether they were able to feel the anger of God, the rage of God, about the ravaging of his good creation by the forces of destruction. it's a perspective i hadn't previously considered but i think that God is generally very angry about this whole situation.
congrad gempf has posted some staggering before/after pictures from the New York Times photo journalists. see them here.

New Year's Day Walk

walkin and a talkin
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

quite windy then!

quite windy then!
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Steve enjoying some proper refreshment post walk

New Year's Day 3
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Vicar of Dibley and 'Making Poverty History

had another fine New Year day walk today - which is becoming something of a tradition round these parts.
after tea, crumpets and a DVD back at Chez Rees with friends Rich, Steve and Felicity Pip and I settled down to watch the New Year's Day episode of the Vicar of Dibley (as an Anglican clergyman you are required by law to watch it - like saying the Daily Office). Boy am I glad we did (said in an American accent)! It was like one long promo for Richard Curtis's campaign 'Make Poverty History' - which was fine by me (far more tasteful than the Xmas day episode which was quite frankly crap I thought).
2005 is a big year in the campaign for debt relief/trade justice/poverty eradication - particulary in the UK as it's our turn to chair the G8 this year. Richard Curtis has apparently set aside the whole of this year to work on the campaign instead of writing decidedly dodgy rom com scripts. looks like Hugh Grant won't be doing much this year either then - which is a bonus. find out more and sign up for the Make Poverty History campaign here.
Happy New Year.