Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Quote of the Day

"Christians find their true identity when they are involved in mission" - the inimitable David Bosch (of course).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

St Irenaeus

without wanting to distract attention from the previous important announcement i couldn't let today pass without drawing attention to the fact that it is the feast day (not sure why they are called that anymore) of St Irenaeus of Lyon. He is definitely one of my favourite early church fathers (2 generations from the N.T. apostles). he had a tremendously rich understanding of salvation which has been called 'representation' (to distinguish it from 'substitution'). For Irenaeus, it was vital to understand that Christ was the last Adam who represented the whole of humanity (like the first Adam did) - taking it through death and out into resurrection. There's lots more that could be said but this ain't the time or place. here are some other facts (from

Born: c. 115 AD, Smyrna
Died: 202 AD, Lyons, Gaul (France)
Feast day: June 28

St. Irenaeus was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyons, France. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of John the Evangelist. He is recognized as a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. His most famous work is Against Heresies, a lengthy description and refutation of Gnosticism.

Announcement: 30 people in 1 coracle

well - having had all the necessary conversations - i can now finally announce (although most people reading this will already know about it) that hOME - our fledgeling Christian community - will be de-coupling from our mother church this September and learning to stand on our own two feet a bit more. St Aldates has given us a start in life and has incubated our egg. but it now feels like it's time to move on. the egg is hatching and so the mother hen is getting off.

we still have the full support of the Bishop and the Diocese and we will be relocating in Oxford. we are in conversation with another church about the possibility of some sort of partnership and a mutual sharing of resources but it won't be the same kind of relationship we've had with St Aldates.

I'm really excited about the future possibilities and this move feels really right although it will put a strain on our resources and may involve me finding some other work. we'll see.

so, those in our community who feel the missionary call of the great missionary God to go with us will be getting into our coracle and heading out in a couple of months time. and we'll see where the Holy Spirit takes us.

catch up blog

can't believe it's over a week since my last blog post - i thought i had ceased to be a bad blogger and had turned into a good blogger - taking plenty of virtual fibre to keep my blogging regular. but no!'s a catch up blog on what i've been up to over the last week. there really isn't that much to report:
i did find out that i have been paying too much tax for the last two years (!!!) so went to see my newly appointed tax adviser (probably appointed 2 years too late some might say!) on Thursday and did tax returns and the like and she told me to expect a rebate which will be nice.

went to the Bishop's house on Thursday evening for his annual clergy garden party type thing. very nice and pleasant in the kind of way you would imagine it to be when lots of C of E clergy drink pimms on the lawn.

Pip and i went up to N Wales on Friday for my Nan/grandmother's 90th birthday celebration tea. she's losing it, bless her...said to us "I can't believe I'm 80" to which we replied "you're not 80 you're 90". i guess that happens...i can't always remember how old i am these days but i normally manage to guess within 10 years.

came back on Saturday and went to an awesome party with some friends - Alan, Di, Jim, Beckie and Jon - on Saturday night. it was the relaunch party for our local pub, The Fishes. this kind of thing can often be a case of "here's your voucher entitling you to ONE free glass of nasty wine and a tesco-value hotdog" BUT NO! this party had people walking round with trays of glasses of champagne, trays of oysters, buckets of ice cold Corona, strawberries coated in frozen chocolate, an amazing buffet/BBQ with seared tuna, steak, chicken skewers etc. ALL FOR FREE! Probably the best free party i've been to. so, that's The Fishes in North Hinksey, Oxford, ladies and gentlemen (they deserve a plug after that).

Sunday: AM went to the priesting ordination of one of my colleagues at St Aldates - Helen Azer, who's the Curate here. was asked to be the Rector's representative in his absence so that meant robing and processing, laying hands (with the Bish and other clergy) on those being priested, and assisting with the administration of communion.

Monday: went down to London for a blather with some people thinking about how we can resource each other as we explore the creating of new forms of church. something quite good might come out of the discussion but i'm not at liberty to say what or with who at this point. watch this space.

catch up complete.

Monday, June 20, 2005

emergent UK Coordinating Day

It was a privilege to be invited by Jason Clark to be involved in the Emergent UK Planning Day held at the London School of Theology on Saturday. It was a time to meet new people and have an input into the ongoing development of 'Emergent' in the UK. Here's a photo of those involved in the day (you can see me sweltering in the heat on the left towards the back) and you can read more about the day here on Jason's blog.

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

'The Rebel Sell' - are we addicted to being on the edge?

I have just finished reading this book - 'The Rebel Sell: How the Counter Culture became Consumer Culture' - by two Canadians, Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter and i can honestly say it is one of the most challenging books i have read for a long time. Their basic premise - which they then work through lots of different countercultural issues - is that the whole idea of a counterculture mitigates against real positive change in society because it derides the whole notion of incremental change through political engagement. The only thing worth pursuing, the countercultual critics would say, is a total overthrow of the system...anything less than that is not worth getting out of bed for.
So, for Heath and Potter - 2 Canadian academics (and, I suspect, neo-Marxists), the idea of the counterculture can actually get in the way of real change.

They also have some very interesting things to say about the marketing of rebellion and cool, and this aspect of the book raised a fascinating question for me about emerging church. here is my question:

if all the perspectives, values, practices etc. that we are fighting for in the whole emerging church 'movement' suddenly got adopted by the mainstream church, would we be happy and once more 'play nicely with all the other children'? or would we be looking for something else to preserve our distinctiveness on the edge of church? i.e. are we purely interested in those theological/ecclesiological issues or do we derive some sense of identity from being the 'emerging' church that has more to do with wanting to be on the edge, wanting to be cool and rebellious, than it has to do with anything else?

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

dreams plans visions

great exhibition on at Modern Art Oxford at the moment that Pip and I went to yesterday. they've invited all kinds of people, artists, and groups to contribute their vision for the Oxford of the future. I like the way they've focused on a date in the not too distant future - 2015 - which is far enough away to allow the imagination room to explore but near enough to anchor it all in a sense of what could actually be possible. we saw some great stuff - interviews with local people, a giant panoramic photo of a 'solar powered Oxford', a video about the future Oxford mono-rail, artists sketches of what the centre of the city could look like in the future etc. if you're in the Oxford area and particularly if you have a passion for the city like I do then i highly recommend you go along. it's only on for 10 days (till June 19th) and more details can be found here.

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

what's your theological worldview?

below is the result i got when i took this quick online test. follow the link at the bottom of the post in order to take the test yourself. BTW i don't agree with some of the description of who i am supposed to be, especially the second sentence!

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Roman Catholic


Neo orthodox




Classical Liberal


Reformed Evangelical


Modern Liberal




What's your theological worldview?
created with

Friday, June 10, 2005

dropping by un-announced...

so last night, around 20 to midnight, Pip and I had both been to our respective huddle meetings and were just winding down about to go to bed, and the phone goes. it's not the kinda time we normally expect phone calls, so I screen it, and hear that it's my old mate from theological college, Paddy Malone who now lives in London. he asks me what i'm up to tomorrow and i say 'not much' as Friday is supposed to be my day off. i surmise from his question that he might be around the Oxford area so I ask him where he is - is he staying with mutual friends of ours who live around the corner from us? he says he's a bit nearer than that...i suspect that perhaps he is outside our front door wanting somewhere to stay for the night. he tells me i'm wrong and invites me to look out of our back window. as i do so i can just about make out a light at the bottom of our garden. and as i move out of our back door i also see that a tent has been pitched and some food is being cooked on a camping gas stove. Paddy and another friend - Simon Lockett - have canoed down the river from Simon's house in the village of Islip, a few miles north of Oxford, all the way to our back garden, hitched up the boat and set up camp at the bottom of our garden.
after much cracking up Pads, Simon, Pippa and I crack open a couple of bottles of wine and get a proper camp fire vibe going. Three hours, some fine wine, some very fine single malt, and some lovely cuban cigars, later i retire to bed thinking that that was possibly one of the oddest ends to a day i have ever experienced.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Saint Columba

Saint Columba
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

today is the feast day of Saint Columba of Iona. He was a very important important early Celtic apostle, who left Ireland and planted a monastery on the Isle of Iona off the western coast of Scotland. i have been there - it's beautiful. from there a team was eventually sent to the Isle of Lindisfarne - now known as Holy Island - off the east coast of Northern England, which was the base from which much of Northern England was first evangelised. you can read more about Columba here.

Friday, June 03, 2005

re:source church plant training - creating church in the emerging culture

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

this looks like a great day. wish i could go to it but it's the first day of our holiday in Cornwall.

messin about on the river

messin about on the river
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

this afternoon, friday's generally being my days off, Steve (our Deacon) and i went on an adventure down the river. most of you will know that we are lucky enough to have the river at the bottom of our garden. and someone was kind enough to let us have a couple of boats (a one-man kyak and a 3/4 person canadian canoe). one of the best things to do is to go to the pub in North Hinksey in the boat - land it at the pub garden and go in for a pint. this afternoon Steve and i attempted the never-before-attempted full circuit. from our house (circled in red on above map) we head South and then fork right to N Hinksey village (pub closed for refurb at the moment - shame). then head North again, pass under main (Botley) Road, then take the East fork and then head South again to bring us back home. (you might need to click on the map for a larger version if you are really interested in seeing our route)
it was a great trip. we stopped about three quarters of the way for some refreshments (my fab wife had even made me a packed lunch!!). it did start chucking it down with rain on the last stretch but that just added to the illusion of being frontier, intrepid explorers.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


this Saturday morning hOME begins a new 'hOME-option'. those who feel they would benefit are gathering for breakfast and then we're going to get spiritually nourished by doing a kind of group-lectio-divina reading of scripture and then allowing plenty of time to pray for each other afterwards. we're planning on doing it the first Saturday morning of each month.

Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

open theism

there's an interesting conversation going on over at TallSkinnyKiwi about what some consider to be the theological hallmarks of those who associate with the emerging church (in fact TSK has set up a voting system so we can find out just how heretical the emerging church actually is (by the standards prescribed by the conservatives).

one of the theological positions in question is that of open theism. those of you who know me know that i am a big advocate of the open theist position as i think it offers a truly beautiful (as well as bibilical) view of a God who risks and makes himself vulerable in order to have the kind of relationship with his creatures that he desires - one characterised by genuine mutuality and love. but i'm not going to go into all the details here. for those who want to find out more about this position I've just found an interesting site here by one of the theologians advocating this position.