Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cowley Road Carnival Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the annual Cowley Road Carnival. I love it. For one day they close the whole road to traffic and thousands of people flood the street - it's Oxford's most multicultural area so there's lots of local flavours and colours to enjoy and celebrate. There's a great party vibe and it's very evocative of the kingdom of God.

Last year's was great - I remember dancing on the street to some local soundsystems and generally having a great time in the sun. Doesn't look like there'll be much of that this year though!

A few of us from hOME have decided to volunteer this year and help out serving - doing set up for some of the stages and stewarding etc. Because I have an unusual clergy job it means that tomorrow morning, instead of being in a church somewhere, I can be getting my sleeves literally rolled up and helping to make the Carnival happen.

If you live locally it's really not one to miss!

As hOME meets on Sunday evenings in the Community centre hall - right in the centre of the action - we've decided to cancel our normal service and host a post-carnival chill out room instead (with prayer stations, ambient music, projections, floor cushions, lots of candle light etc.).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

pet hate

just watching the Henman showdown from the first round of Wimbledon on the BBC and it's reminded me of one of my pet hates. For some reason the BBC in their wisdom only show their mini scoreboard (the one in the top left hand corner of the screen) while a point is in play - precisely the time that you want to be watching the play not looking at the score. In between points - when it would be a good time to check the score - they remove it. It's sooooo annoying! Does anyone have any idea why?

Monday, June 25, 2007

facebook = death of blogging?

It looks like everyone has been well and truly bitten by the great bug that is facebook - I know I certainly have. And it looks to me like there's far less blogging happening as a result. Certainly true in my case. But I don't want to let my blog slide totally so thought I would post something.

We had another soggy holiday in Cornwall last week (Pip and I are considering hiring ourselves out as water-shortage solutions consultants - you got a water shortage? just pay for us to come on holiday where you are and we can almost guarantee that it will rain the whole time we're there).

Came back to do Chris and Katharine's wedding on Saturday (see photo on left and below courtesy of Mel). hOME weddings seem to be like buses - we've had 2 in the last month and none before that. As a result we have unwittingly transitioned to a community that now has a large percentage of married/hooked up people. How did that happen?!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Corpus Christi

Today in the Church Calendar is Corpus Christi - which is a day of thanksgiving to God for the institution of the eucharist.
(the photo comes from the blog of Alan Creech)

It's a big festival in the Catholic world and even though we are not wanting to overly-identify ourselves with any ONE tradition, but drink deeply from all the wells, I am thankful for the eucharist.

It keeps us anchored in the story of the gospel.
We celebrate the eucharist in hOME at every worship gathering (weekly) and I think it's really important that we do so.
At the Last Supper Jesus took, blessed, broke, and shared the bread. The four main 'actions' of the eucharist - taking, blessing, breaking and sharing are also the four main elements of the Christ story. Jesus was given (or taken), blessed by God, broken (primarily on the cross) and shared out for the life of the world as the living bread.

So each time we celebrate the eucharist we are re-enacting the heart of our faith.

But those 4 actions also encapsulate God's action upon us:
he gathers us, he blesses us, he breaks us, and he shares us out for the life of the world : we experience this on both an individual level and a corporate level in Christian community.

So for this reason (and there are others too - for example eucharist reminds us of the essential goodness of physicality), I'm glad we re-tell the story each week in our worship gathering.

interfaith walk for peace

Went on the annual interfaith walk for peace yesterday (see picture on left including one of our guys - Andy - who somehow became chief steward for the march - in the foreground with rather cheeky pose!).
We started at the Synagogue and then walked on to the University church and then on to the Mosque in East Oxford. All the Abrahamic faiths together (+ others too). I even 'collared up' for the occasion (not something I do that often).
In an age of distrust and fear it seems even more important these days to do this sort of thing.
For me I'm not at all going down that relativistic route of saying we're all basically believing the same thing (apart from anything else that would be very disrespectful of the other faiths who, largely, wouldn't want to say that at all). Just saying that we have respect for each other, value each other, can learn from each other, and do not fear each other. And these seem like things worth saying.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Richard Rohr @ York

Absolutely blown away by Richard Rohr at the conference I went to in York over the weekend. He's in my Jedi Council for sure.
I said to someone I feel like I've been born again again.
There's a lot of talk in emerging circles about 'powerless discourse' and a kind of doing away with the 'expert'. I disagree. Put someone who knows what they're talking about in a big room, preferably on a stage, give them a microphone and let them talk at me for hours on end. I don't particularly want to go to something like this and pool my ignorance with a load of strangers in small groups. I want to listen to a spiritual master, which Rohr undoubtedly is.
Of course, we need to make sure we're not confusing this for the real work however. The rubber hits the road when we take this stuff back into Christian community and learn together how to live it out. That's a much more appropriate context for 'powerless discourse' if you ask me.
Anyway - it was truly inspirational stuff. He was basically talking about how bad the church has been at facilitating true transformation in people. That true transformation comes through wisdom (which is actually a common description of the Spirit in the scriptures) but the church hasn't developed a wisdom culture but instead been obsessed with what he calls 'informational knowledge' i.e. it's about getting more and better information, knowing how to label things correctly etc. The church has by and large operated in this early level consciousness.
Instead we need to know how to get beyond what he calls the 'dualistic mind' to wisdom and the 'contemplative mind' which can deliver true transformation.
Of course he said a lot of other things too! I'm looking forward to listening again to the CD's.

Of particular interest to people reading this blog might be the fact that he talked in the last session about the emerging church. In his view it has 3 characteristics:

1. An honest reading of Jesus - not reading the gospels to score denominational points but an openness to receive ALL of Christ's teaching. The church has often emphasised things that Jesus didn't emphasise and ignored things that Jesus did emphasise! The emerging church is seeking to take the whole of Christ's teaching seriously.

2. A passion of justice, peace, and ecological issues.

3. An openness to developing the contemplative mind. (He joked that he would always rather talk about scripture to Catholics, and contemplation to Protestants because both groups are very happy to admit that they know little about these things...the problem comes when trying to teach scripture to Protestants and contemplation to Catholics cos both groups think they have it all worked out in those areas and don't have what he calls 'Beginners Mind'.)

Anyway - as you can see...I'm a bit of a fan...and there is a bit of a guru thing around Rohr which I know he's quite embarassed about (he said so). I did say to my travelling companions (great to be there with Jim from hOME and Ian and Gail from mayBe) that if the weekend ended in a mass wedding we were all in trouble...!!