Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Fortieth Year

I celebrated my 39th birthday on Monday...or rather I was due to go out and celebrate it with Pippa but she got sick early that morning and spent the rest of the day incapacitated. Shame.
Then I got sick the next day (yesterday) - double shame!!
But it was good to be with friends for posh breakfast out on Saturday morning instead.
Very pleased to receive the complete West Wing ('Collector's Edition') on the day itself. Still the best thing ever on TV IMHO.
Also pleased to receive a couple of books - 'Chrysalis' (Alan Jamieson) and 'Remembering our Future' (Andrew Walker and Luke Bretherton).

Friday, April 18, 2008

many streams, one river...where is God for you?

We're spending some time in Home at the moment - in our prayer focus - on the different streams of spirituality that make up the river of Christian history. We're using Richard Foster's book - Streams of Living Water - as a resource.

One of the things that has intrigued me as I have been thinking about it is that each of the traditions seem to locate God differently - at least that's how it occurs to me. Of course they would all say that God is omnipresent but I think one of the things that marks the different streams out from each other is the place they conceive of God in..

To use Foster's categories it looks like this.....

The Evangelical Tradition primarily finds God in the scriptures/the bible.
The Contemplative Tradition primarily finds God within - the inner journey, Christ within you etc.
The Social-Justice tradition primarily finds God in the poor.
The Sacramental Tradition primarily finds God in the physical or in material things.
The Charismatic/Pentecostal tradition chases God who, for them, is like the wild wind - unpredicatable and hard to pin down.

Most of us would want to affirm all of these possibilities, but what's your default? When you're not theologising too hard where would you most readily expect to encounter God?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ian Adams - Pace Bene

One of the people in my life I am truly grateful to God for is Ian Adams. He was gathering and shaping what has become the mayBe community here in Oxford around the same time that I was doing the same for the Home community. So it feels like we have been brothers in arms for a number of years now and I have been increasingly thankful for his comradeship. He continues to be an inspiration to me.

At this point in our journeys both Ian and I find ourselves needing to find alternate sources of income to supplement the stipends we receive for leading our communities. We are both determined to not see this as a backwards step but an opening up of new possibilities - and who knows where the wild wind of the Spirit will blow us.

I am not quite ready to say what I hope to do yet (more in due course) but Ian is just launching a very exciting new aspect to his ministry - Pace Bene, which is Ian's offering of himself as a guide, mentor, sounding-board, retreat-leader, consultant, or trainer to individuals and nascent emerging communities of faith. I think he'll be brilliant at it and would highly recommend him to anyone who could use this sort of input.

Do go and check out his new site :

Monday, April 07, 2008

God is nowhere/God is now here - The Road to Emmaus

Enjoyed speaking at Home yesterday evening on the Road to Emmaus which was the gospel reading for the day. I borrowed Douglas Coupland's phrase from his book 'Hey! Nostradamus' - 'God is nowhere, God is now here' and made a little video loop that played while I was speaking. The gist was that following the path of Christ means cycles of absence of presence and absence. Our faith journey starts off very solid and certain - we think we know what God is about - but almost always seems to move into times of disillusionment and doubt - just like Clopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus. Christ returns to us (did he ever leave?) but it's often different to how it was before - these disciples who thought they knew him failed to recognise him.

How often does God go unrecognised in our lives?

The other thing I love about the story - as I heard Bishop Steven (Reading) say - these disciples are actually going the wrong way! They have turned their backs on Jerusalem and given up on Christ. And Christ comes to them on THIS road.

Whichever road we are on is our Emmaus road and God comes to us there.

more crazy weather

fun in the snow yesterday morning but you've got to wonder - snow in April?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Music update

really thankful for some fantastic new music I've been listening to recently. thought I would give you some recommendations...

I've already mentioned the new Goldfrapp album, 'Seventh Tree' - it's fantastic stuff. I think someone described it as pastoral, electronic folk which seems about right to me. Less glam-rock than some of their other stuff, a bit more song based. Love it.

I stumbled across Cara Dillon on the Transatlantic Sessions on BBC4 where they get the finest Celtic folk guys together with some of the finest American bluegrass/country musicians and put them in a big house in Scotland and see what happens. I was totally blown away by her voice and found her album, After the Morning, for £1.50 on - it's fantastic stuff - beautiful songs, great'll be too folky for some of you but I absolutely love it. She's married to Seth Lakeman's brother who plays piano for her. Hoping to see her live later in the year.

Young Mountain by This Will Destroy You is one I discovered through LastFM which is a fab internet radio thingamy - you can type in an artist you like and it will create a playlist of similar artists. I was listening to artists similar to The Album Leaf and this came up - it's kinda post-rock, Sigur Ros type stuff - no vocals though - quite atmospheric but guitar based. I bought it for a few quid on iTunes. Check it out.

A little while back Pete Ward lent me an album by Ralph Stanley called 'Shine On' - it's really grown on me even if I can only take it in small doses - it's real deep bluegrass/American country singing - old time gospel stuff. Listening to the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss album also led me down this path. Good stuff - give it a try.
Bought the Jack Johnson album, Sleep Through the Static, for the missus on Mother's Day but of course I've ended up listening to it myself a bit and like it. The title track is the standout one for me.

Ok music fans, that's your lot for now!

Easter Update

we had a cracking Holy Week and Easter.

On Good Friday we had our Stations of the Cross installation and eucharist, the second year we've done this. 14 people contributed the different stations and as usual they were surprising, intriguing and thought-provoking. It was great to have the space open for a couple of hours for people to engage with the Stations at their own pace, and great to have quite a number of guests and visitors.

On Easter day we gathered for a champagne breakfast at Chris and Katharine's house and afterwards had a short easter eucharist. When that had finished we got our coats on and headed down to the river where we shared in a corporate renewal of baptismal vows for the year to come - committing ourselves to another year of trying to live in the way of Christ. It's important to point out that we didn't get into the river! We used bottled water and it turned into a bit of a water fight.

It was great that some people made a deliberate choice to be around rather than going away (it's always struck me as a little odd that at the high point of the church year everyone goes away and we find it difficult to be together!).

Anyway, I really appreciated sharing the journey of Holy Week and Easter with our little community.