Thursday, February 24, 2005

hOME weekend away ~2

we had a cracking weekend away last weekend at the Eton Dorney centre next to the river where apparently they are going to hold the rowing etc. if we win the bid to stage the Olympics in 2012. unfortunately we were limited to bringing 25 people due to the size of the centre but i think it was a good number to have (and we had a couple of day visitors - Kate and Elizabeth - on the Saturday). as a centre they were obviously more geared up for teenagers than adults which was illustrated by the fact that when we were welcomed to the centre on the friday night we were told that we weren't allowed to chew gum and it sounded like there was a curfew of 10.30pm! (althought i think i might have misunderstood that last point). still the staff were helpful and really understanding when we spilt candle wax on the carpet (I should probably own up and say it was ME, and i should also give credit where it's due and thanks Jon W who scraped it off amazingly well).
our focus for the weekend was 'mission' - looking particularly at how we need to understand mission in the light of the missio dei..the mission of God. In other words, when we talk about mission we are talking about God's mission. we looked at the focus of the missio dei - the world (for God so loved THE WORLD) - and the content of the missio dei (the renewal of all things in Christ, which was the work that God began on Easter Sunday morning in the resurrection of Christ (as the first-fruits). the mission of God includes movements of peace, justice, reconciliation, ecology etc. as well as the more traditional understanding of it being about calling and inviting people into relationship with God. we then looked at how all of that cashes out for us in hOME and we launched the idea of mission hUBS (tho some people had been operating in this way for a while - liek the poetry slam guys)....micro outward focused groups joining in with the mission of God to the world. we looked at 3 different areas that they would conceivably operate in: causes, compassion, and culture (to reflect the breadth of the missio dei) : and then broke into three groups to brainstorm these areas in more depth according to the passion that God has put into our hearts. there was some remarkably creative and diverse ideas coming out from the 3 groups which represented possible directions for our hUBS to go in. throughout the course of the rest of the weekend we made the 3 brainstorms available and people put their name next to the things that interested them. we're going to publish this somehow so people can see who else in the community is interested in the same things as they are, make the connections and take responsibility for the next step as we seek to see the community of hOME become a greater blessing to the world around us.
we also spent some time on Sunday examining our Rule-of-Life which i'll blog some more about in a separate post cos this one is already way too long.
it was great to start each day with morning prayer from the Anglican Liturgy, and also to celebrate communion together on Sunday morning.
all of that sounds very spiritual so i should also mention that we did go to the pub both nights, played wide games, had a pub quiz (but not at the pub), played football and Ultimate frisbee, celebrated birthdays, shared objects which represented hopes and dreams for the future for each of us, and generally had a good time!

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

what's in a name?!

i'm working on content material for the new hOME website and i've got to the ubiquitous 'Contacts' page. after putting in the usual caveat that this is not a list of who the important people are in the community i have gone on to list people by their functions (please refer back to earlier post about positional/functional leadership and relating that to categories of 'being' as well as 'doing')...Warden, Deacon, Archivist, Artist-in-Residence etc. the problem is that I have no idea what to call myself. i am quite enjoying the fact that it's a problem because perhaps there is some significance in that. perhaps titles have had their day. but i don't want to think of it as a title, more as a description (like the others i've mentioned above). and it is only for things like web sites. i mean no one is going to address me as 'Vicar Matt' etc. But what do i put? 'Pastor' is not going to work for me 'cos pastoral ministry is not my strength area (my wife will back me up on that one) tho I'm getting better. 'Leader' is too vague 'cos actually there are a lot of people in our community who that would apply to. my current favourite, to go with the monastic theme that is an important strand in our community, is 'Abbot' but i think it might be a bit daft. there is some interesting info about the origin and role of an Abbot here. any suggestions? (what an opportunity for those who want to take the bobba!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


well whaddya know! i was only talking about him in the pub last night and lo and behold today is the feast day of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. crazy! he was an important chap in the early church and a disciple of the Apostle John. read more about him here. (still meaning to blog about hOME weekend away but still haven't got round to it yet!).

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

COTA - Ordo CD

got my copy of the new Church of the Apostles CD this morning and have loaded it up onto iTunes and listening to it while i work (and blog!) this morning. so far i love it - it sounds really fresh when so much worship music these days sounds same-ey. and i am really impressed by the deep use of scripture in the songs. pretty much every line of the songs so far (I'm currently on track 7 of 13) is a direct quote from scripture. actually the words from track 7 come from Martin Luther! if it's true that songs shape our internal world far more quickly and perhaps effectively than the spoken word then having songs so steeped in scripture can only be a good thing. there is a remarkable resonance between what we are trying to build here in hOME, Oxford, and what's going on in Seattle with the Church of the Apostles, albeit with some differences in cultural expression (like our music is influenced more by club/chill out culture). i thank God for Karen and the Church of the Apostles and often find myself in conversation referring to them as being very close to us in their vision. And Karen, if you're reading this, I'm looking forward to hanging out this summer when you come over for Greenbelt. anyway, you can get the album here (and also listen to a couple of extracts). if you're purchasing from the UK then even with the shipping costs it's still remarkably cheap for a full length album thanks to the mighty pound! well worth it.

COTA - Ordo
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

misheard lyrics

i'm gonna post about our exhausting but rockin weekend away soon but for now....Jon introduced me to a great web site at the weekend called where people share lyrics they have misheard. this is one of my favourites so far: the song is the theme tune from 'Friends' and the line should be..."when it hasn't been your day, your month, or even your year"; but the misheard version goes..."when it hasn't been your day we all come home and wee in your ear". schoolboy humour? maybe but i would be even more concerned about what kind of person i had become if i didn't find that funny.

Friday, February 18, 2005

the 2nd annual hOME weekend away

a load of us are heading off today to the Eton Dorney Centre near Windsor for the 2nd annual hOME weekend away which we did for the first time around this time last year. last year we had to cook for ourselves, this year we're going upmarket - a bit - and having our meals cooked for us! we're going to focus on how we do mission from a starting point of an understanding of the missio dei (the mission of God) which I'm going to give some input into tonight. we've also asked people to bring with them an object that represents for them a hope or dream for the future. should be a fun weekend.

Eton Dorney Centre
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

first online Lent Group session last night

Last night we had the first session of our online Lent Study Group at the Habbo Hotel. we were a little short on numbers - only 4 of us there - as some people couldn't make it but that may have been a blessing due to the rapidity of the conversation. anyway, it was a lot of fun. Chris showed up wearing a reindeer hat. jim looked surprisingly like his real life self. i was playing out a personal fantasy by giving myself big hair - an afro in fact. At least Naomi showed up as a girl and didn't completely reinvent herself! there was some waving and quite a lot of dancing. in fact as we drerw our discussion to a close we decided to all have one last dance together. as i sat looking at my computer screen i was cracking up! what a crazy world we live in. we expressed some frustrations with the book - Christina Baxter : 'The Wounds of Jesus' - but nevertheless managed to have some good conversation about corporate repentance and shouldering each others burdens. i think we need some furniture though. it's amazing how virtually uncomfortable you feel when you can't sit down in a virtual room!

habbo hotel
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

cat and mouse

our cat is very fascinated by the mouse (on my computer) - she sits on my lap while i work and watches it. sometimes she thinks about chasing it. i just thought that was funny. she's a postmodern cat - not interested in conventional mice anymore.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Common Worship Daily Prayer

as an Anglican Priest one is supposed to pray the daily office each day. over recent years i have discovered more and more of the power and importance of liturgical prayer and it has become a much more common feature of both my personal prayer life and the prayer life of our community. readers of this blog will know that i have been using the prayer book of the Northumbria Community for a while now. more recently i have discovered that the official Anglican daily prayer liturgy is available online (and updated daily with all the relevant scripture passages included). now i know it sounds crazy but since i made this discovery recently i have actually been using the official anglican daily office - sometimes i like to live on the edge. who'd have thought it - an anglican priest discovering the anglican daily prayer's a mad world. anyway, it's available here and i'll update my sidebar too.

Friday, February 11, 2005

photo opportunity!

here's a very funny photo from Jonny Baker's blog!

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

meant to post this last week..

here's a photo from my retreat last Monday/Tuesday which i meant to post last week but forgot. i promise this wasn't posed! i REALLY WAS sitting at the desk by the window of my room praying, reading and writing and i took this at some point.

meant to post this last week..
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

ash wednesday @ hOME

last night was our ash wednesday service at hOME. we continue to find the liturgical year a source of inspiration for the rhythm of our worship in hOME. last night i prepared a meditation based on the idea of lent being a time when we strip away stuff. we made some individual 'pass the parcel' type packages, each with 11 layers. each layer represented a different way of defining ourselves that we are encouraged into by our culture which we need to strip away: things like being defined by our jobs, our sexual attractiveness, our education, our independence etc. each sheet had a meditation, some questions to ponder, some pictures, and a prayer. in the middle of the space there was a table with a big pot and 3 candles on it. people went to different parts of the room and found some private space. they then proceeded to remove the first layer of the parcel. once they had spent time considering and praying they went to the table in the middle of the room and set fire to the piece of paper to symbolise letting go of that way of defining ourselves. in the middle of the package was a small bag of soil and some thoughts based on Gen 2:7 about adam being formed from the dust of the ground. people were encouraged to take the soil away with them and keep it in their pocket. the idea being that the soil would remind us of our true nature every time we touch it or see it. after a time of sung worship we then used the ash from the burnt paper to sign each other. we then had a short time of discussing what we are and aren't defined by and then finishing with some prayers. It was a great night.

ash weds1
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Monday, February 07, 2005

my first african visitor!

very pleased to see that, according to hitmaps (see the bottom of my sidebar on the left of this page (click on it)), i have recently had my first African visitor. welcome, whoever you are!

ash wednesday @ hOME

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

time for some different criteria for succesful ministry?

this (from Jordon Cooper) is spot on and well worth reading all the way through:

Adopting a missionary approach will require changing the scorecard. Church scorecards currently reflect member values: how many show up, pay up, and participate in club member activities. There are the numbers used to compare one church with another--the numbers that denominations ask for in their reports. These numbers establish the pecking order among clergy. The bigger the better and the more respected by club members of other churches.

A missionary church culture will need to begin keeping score on things different from what we measure now. These may include how many ministry initiatives we are establishing in the streets, how many conversations we are having with pre-Christians, how many volunteers we are releasing into local and global mission projects aimed at community transformation, how many congregations are starting to reach different populations, how many congregations use our facilities, how many languages (ethnic and generational) we worship in, how many community groups use our facilities, how many languages (ethnic and generational) we worship in, how many community groups use our facilities, how many church activities target people who aren't here yet, how many hours per week members spend in ministry where they work, go to school, and get mail.

Until we start making heroes of people who decide to be and act like missionaries, we will fail to turn club members into missionaries. Until we bless people who "go out" from us to reach people who may not come to us, we will continue to have a kingdom vision that is shrink wrapped to church programs and church real estate. Until we start adopting school and hosting community food banks and teaching parenting seminars for people who come to us for food, we will keep fostering club member mentality.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

trinity to split

just as we were all coming to terms with 'Busted' splitting up it seems that the Trinity are going to go their separate ways due to 'creative differences'. read all about it here.

special edition billy graham ipod

i think this is going to be a big hit. more details here.

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

groove armada in Oxford tonight!...

well half of them anyway! Tom Findlay plays a DJ set tonight at a a night called 'Simple' at the Bully on the Cowley Road. The BBC has an article about it and also some interesting comments by Findlay on the direction the clubbing world is going in. read it here.

groove armada
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

TNIV online

i've been waiting for this. the latest version of the NIV - the TNIV - is now available online. the NT has been available on a free download for a while. now they have released the OT as well. unfortunately it's only available at the moment as a PDF but they will soon launch a web version with 'go to' and 'search' facilities. i like the TNIV. i've persisted with the NRSV cos it's less sexist and apparently the most accurate of modern translations. but a lot of the time i find that it just doesn't read as well. so i've gone back to the NIV but i often find myself cringing at the preponderence of male-centric language (even when the original language doesn't require it). the TNIV deals with that - it's basically a non-sexist NIV.

Friday, February 04, 2005

the incompatibility of religion and rock?

'athelete' have just released their album. their single - 'wires' - has got right under my skin. they did a free gig in Oxford the other night that i was supposed to be going to until there was a ticket mix up at the last minute. they are christians too. christians making good music. whatever next. the fact that they are christians has led the guardian to publish an article about people of faith in rock (Cliff Richard, Yusuf Islam etc.) and the relationship between their faith and their music. i was quite intrigued to read this quote by the editor of the NME, Conor McNicholas:
"The problem with religion is it’s never cool. At the heart of all religions, there’s a notion of control, and that’s the opposite of rock’n’roll’.
Is McNicholas right? My experience is that rock and roll tends to squeeze a lot of people into the same mould. i'm talking about the rock and roll cliche. sex, drugs and rock and roll. it's not very imaginative. kicking out the jams and not being told what to do normally just means being told what to do by somebody else - namely the guardians of the great tradition of rock and roll. so, rock and roll purports to be all about freedom but it just replaces one form of control for another.
at the heart of the christian gospel there lies a profound mystery - that freedom comes as we lay down our right to freedom and 'submit to the father of our spirits and live'. As Leonardo Boff put it: 'obedience is the greatest free decision one can make for God'. Christ models for us the paradox that freedom comes only through laying down our lives to the will of God. rock and roll : faux freedom.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

brian mclaren - 'Time' and Larry King slots

you already know how much of an influence Brian Mclaren has been on me and we were really pleased he could come and visit hOME in December when he was over for the emergent conference. well, Time Mag (US) has just run a feature entitled 'The 25 Most Inflential Evangelicals in the USA' and Brian has made it in at No.17 (of course i knew all along that the list was alphabetical and certainly didn't need Rich to point this out to me in the comments - just messin with you all!). He has also just appeared on the Larry King show with a number of the others that appeared in the Time article and apparently Bri did us all proud.

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

the 4 nations slam

great night last night. after an early evening speaking engagement i headed down to a packed Zodiac nightclub in Oxford for the 4 nations poetry slam. for those unfamiliar to the world of poetry slams (last night was my first time but they weren't very gentle with me), let me explain. it's a bit like a performance poetry version of Pop Idol. teams compete by entering individuals (tho there were some group poems last night) who perform a poem (within a set time period - 3 mins i think). The poem is then scored by pre-selected judges in the crowd who hold up score cards. last night there were 4 teams from 4 nations - UK, USA, Canada and Ireland. there are 2 semi-finals (which last night were USA v Ireland, and UK v Canada) and the winners of each heat go through to the final. last night the final was between the USA and Canada. It was a rockin night - some great, poignant (and often hilarious) poems by some great characters. the BBC carried a piece on it here. Tho I stayed for the whole slam i left before the result was announced so perhaps someone could enlighten me - it looked like a very close call between the two teams in the final.
One thing that struck me was how many of the poems seemed to be searching for a re-enchantment of the world. asking and pleading with us to stop and notice the wonder of the world that we live in. cajoling us to see tired and familiar things with a sense of awe and almost reverence. people in hOME like Naomi have blogged before about how they wished church could be more like this sort of gathering and on last night's evidence i think i can see why.

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.