there's a new movie on proost from jon birch - apollo christmas. the latest u[pdate from proost has links to various advent and christmas resources but here's what it says about this movie...
This week we launch Jon Birch's wonderful Apollo Christmas movie. On Christmas Eve 1968 astronauts orbiting the moon made an amazing broadcast. With incredible visuals, euphoric electronic music and the words of the three astronauts - this movie takes a different spin on wonder at Christmas.
discordant is a new venture, a creative zine or journal with a DIY ethos inviting contributions from anyone engaging with christianity and culture. it's part of the proost family. the idea is to participate so go and take a look and get involved. the first theme is wonder and you have until february to contribute. there is an example here you can download for free which also has a sampler of 6 tracks free too. love it!
proost is actually organised slightly earlier than usual this year for advent season. and there are some great new resources. i think we are likely to use seeking light at grace (though yet to be discussed). anyway here's the proost update with info and links
As we approach the season of Advent we are reminded again that we wait for God to come to us. We wait in hope for we know that the presence of God with us - that we remember in the birth of Jesus - is transformative in ways that we can only begin to imagine. We wait in hope.
Writing his seminal book 'God in the Manger' Dietrich Bonhoeffer considered the amazing hope of the birth of Christ.
"God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”
Sometimes we cry out to God 'How Long Lord?" as we wait for him. But we wait in hope.
Sometimes we wait expectantly knowing that God will be with us. But we wait in hope.
Sometimes we wait in confusion. Unsure what will happen next. But we wait in hope.
All of our writers here on Proost know and share these emotions and experiences. We are all human beings. We know suffering and we know joy. We hope the resources we share on this website may bring hope to you in whatever you face this Advent.
We are pleased and thrilled to share 'Seeking Light' by Ian Adams. The latest in his series of season reflections - this time focused on Advent, Christmas and Ephiphany. If you've not encountered Ian's work before then do have a look. If you have then you'll know this will be a wonderful accompaniment to Advent.
We are also thrilled to share two new pieces of work from Tim Watson. Journey to the Inward Wild is Tim's second in the Hymnal to the Wild series. Bursting with beautiful poems it's an honest, vulnerable and hopeful read. These poems are perfect to accompany your own devotionals and worship or to read for pleasure or share with others. We are also pleased to share a free resource Advent Thoughts - a series of simple slides taking us through the season. This is free so what do you have to lose !
Advent is a season where Proost has featured many resources to help with your own journey to Christmas. These are available in our back-catalogue and through the Seasons button in the menu. On the frontpage we feature three highlights - Alt.Advent (Jon Birch), We Who Still Wait (a collaboration of Chris Goan, Si Smith, Ian Adams and Steve Broadway) and then People Walking in Darkness (a movie from Grace.) Do check these and other Advent items on the site.
Lastly the best way to access the site remains our Get it All subscription, still only £60. Perfect for you but also as a gift to someone else. Take a look.
Thanks for reading. May your advent season be filled with hope.
next grace stranger in a strange land is next saturday nov 12 8pm st mary's ealing - do join us
How does change challenge our identity? How do we handle situations in our lives when things familiar seem no longer so? We in British society are coming to terms with a future Brexit. Come and hear from those who have had to face even greater change, both individually and for their society.
news from proost on new resources and old resources bundled together! i am a massive fan of si smith and have tried to get hold of his rage despair hope work for a long time so glad to see it finally land!
As October rolls into the beginnings of Winter so it's time for us to ramp up things here at Proost.
In the coming weeks you'll be seeing our Advent resources featured and you can look out for new material from Ian Adams amongst others. We're also busy completing our first Proost Fanzine - a downloadable PDF or EBook sharing poetry, prayers, ideas and features as well as some surprises. Watch out for more here soon.
So as this time we have some things to finish off and some features to share.
We've focused this summer on receiving and encouraging material from new artists. Many of you have sent in material which we're looking through and hope to feature some of in the New Year. We've also published some artists new to Proost. Rage, Hope, Despair is the amazing multimedia resource looking at Job and created by Youthscape. If you've not seen this yet do take a look as it's one of the most dynamic things we've ever hosted here on Proost. It also features illustrations from Si Smith.
We also featured new poetry from Kiwi Mark Laurent and we've been thrilled to hear your responses.
Today we launch creations from two new Proost artists. Openings by The Many is an amazing collaboration of music, prayers and ritual first premiered at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina, USA in 2016. We are thrilled to work with Gary Rand and see this resource on Proost.
We also are launching Poetic Justice by Rachel Edge. Rachel contacted us in the summer and we loved her poems - she has a gift for the metaphor and creates a wonderful collection of poems which we think you'll love.
Finally we were amazed by the recent UK reaction to our Box Sets of physical books and so have launched one more .... the Proost Poetry Box Set. These four physical books feature some of the best of Proost poetry including our best seller Learning to Love and work from Chris Goan, Ned Lunn and Tim Watson. Stock is limited so let us know if you want one. Due to postal costs this is a UK offer only but if you're from outside the UK do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can let you know costs of postage to your location.
grace last saturday played with the metaphor of an iceberg where a large proportion of it is not visible, is below the waterline. it was a simple service but really profound too. the prayers and liturgy have been added to the grace website here. we explored ideas of what is hidden and visible in relation to the grace community, faith and god.
to what you cannot see
to what you cannot control
to what you cannot put numbers to
to what you cannot ignore
to what you cannot hide from
it welcomes you
the surface is open
the sea has room
the food is plentiful
the water is cool
the company is warm
the rest is undisturbed
the shelter is total
they welcome you
the welcome is universal
the entrance is free
the invitation is open
the hand is extended
there is no time limit
the time is now
they welcome you
to hidden generosity
to gentle undercurrents
to subtle nourishment
to unspoken prayer
to inarticulate longing
we welcome you
to actions beyond words
to help without asking
to provision without measure
to hospitality without price
to risk without fear
they welcome you
take hold of the unknown
accept the unconditional
let go of limitation
give up the guidebook
trust what you cannot question
god welcomes you
whether you deserve it or not
whether you think you deserve it or not
all are welcome
you are welcome
they welcome you to their mystery
their depth from which all creation springs
come and swim with them
they welcome you
the father that only the son has seen
the word that no-one recognised
the spirit that intercedes without words
they welcome you
world without end
love the flyer for the next grace! the idea for it came out of a day we had back in june reflecting on grace and what we are up to - we realised that the visible parts of grace are supported by a whole set of other practices, friendships and hidden things. so that's what we'll be exploring. here's the blurb...
The lower part of the iceberg is invisible, immeasurable - and yet it supports everything that we see. How do we measure the worth of the hidden parts of our communities, our faith, our lives? All are welcome to join us in an 'underwater' exploration.
leading the communion service at greenbelt for several thousand people is a challenge - the scale of it but also doing something that is both creative and appeals to a wide range of people - i know as i have led it a couple of times! this year was one of the best all built around the simple idea of children leading it. this included the sermon slot where the archbishop of canterbury was aksed questions by children on his role and on the passages. the favourite question seemed to be who would win in a fight between him and the pope! anyway greenbelt and andrew graystone (who put it together) have made the liturgy and resources available here - a little child will lead them - thank you greenbelt! i am making this a worship trick.
do have a look at one day - a piece of liturgy that managed to be profound and hilarious at the same time...
last night's grace was on the theme of seeds and a lovely communion service. these are a few of the prayers that those of us planning it wrote - and i am adding them as a worship trick - 65 in series 4...
Gardener GodForgive us for the times we have kept our seeds in the packetFor the times we’ve been too scared to risk, too selfish to love, too embarrassed to tryGardener God, have mercy on usForgive us for where we have let weeds grow in the soil of our livesFor the times we have forgotten to pray,for the days when we don’t bother to listen,for the moments when we neglect the stirring of your spiritGardener God, have mercy on usForgive us for when we have trampled on the seedlings of othersThrough careless words or outright criticism,through envy or feeling threatened,through being insensitive or wrapped up in ourselvesGardener God, have mercy on usForgive us for when we think it’s all down to usWhen we forget that to grow we need the earth of our community,The water of other people’s contribution,The sunshine of your favour,The nutrients that come through conversation and challengeGardener God, have mercy on us
affirmation (based on the grace ethos/values create, participate, risk, engage):
We believe in the Creator who imagined this worldAnd then made it with all its earthy gloryWho made us in God’s imageWith the same gift of imaginationMade to CREATETo look after the earth and develop its resourcesWe believe in Jesus the Son of GodWho most perfectly embodied that God like imageHe was able to see what God was doing and join inParticipating in the overflow of God’s love for the worldWho call us to PARTICIPATEIn the the same love for the worldWe believe in the Spirit of LifeWho animates us with the breath of GodWho assures us that we are God’s childrenWho calls us to RISKTo offer up the gifts we have been givenWe believe that one day God will make all things newWhile we wait we will ENGAGEIn our communities, our neighbourhoods and our workplacesBringing foretastes of that new creation nowSharing the good news of God’s wonderful KingdomAmen
Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground a dies it remains a single seedbut if it dies it will produce lots of wheat.Wheat is ground to make flourFlour is mixed with water, salt and yeast to make bread.Bread is your bodyYour body is brokenFor healingUnless a grape pip falls to the ground and dies it remains a single seedbut if it dies it will produce lots of grapes on the vine.Grapes are crushed to make juiceJuice is mixed with water, yeast and sugar to make wine.Wine is your bloodYour blood is poured outFor forgivenessThank you so much for gifts of bread and wine to remember you byThank you so much for being the seed that fell to the ground and diedthat we might have new lifeSend your Spirit on these giftsCome to the tableYou are welcome if you are waitingYou are welcome if you are buriedYou are welcome if you are hiddenYou are welcome if nothing’s happeningYou are welcome if you are growingYou are welcome if you are flourishingAll are welcome at God’s table,especially those who know they are poor, weak and broken.God is here, the One who makes the seed growAmen
a new season of grace starts on saturday sept 10, 8pm, st mary's ealing. do come and join us as we look forward to the year ahead. there will be communion and a café afterwards. i really like september - it always feels more like new year than new year if you know what i mean.
i have read a stack of books this year and always mean to mention them on the blog and don't seem to get round to it so alongside editing photos from the summer in the next month i'll add a few books i have read that i think worth a mention...
first up words of hope from amos trust is a collection of prayers and liturgies and reflections - it's delightful and poignant. amos trust is small human rights organisation challenging injustice and cultivating hope. the words capture their spirituality wonderfully well. it's such a refreshing change to read words that you can echo an agreement to in your own heart. i find the arriculation of spirituality in much contemporary worship is either very focused on individual relationship with god or on proclaiming how great jesus is on a throne in the sky. it's harder to find songs and prayers of longing and anger and hope that relate to the world we actually live in.
this book is a reminder to me of the importance of communities and movements articulating a mission spirituality not just in mission statements and branding and in news stories but also in prayers, liturgies, poetry, art and longings that are expressed soulfully. it is of course what proost has been about and is about for years!
i am so pleased that finally rage despair hope has landed in proost as a downloadable resource. the artwork is a set of illustrations on the book of job by the amazing si smith. i first saw the artwork and we used it a few years back at grace in 2011. it's been developed as a resource by the creative guys at youthscape - originally designed for schools it coud be used in loads of ways. we based an alternative worship service around it for example. anyway the resource includes the following
on tuesday we had a celebration at CMS for the pioneers who have trained on the CMS pioneer training and were graduating, finishing, getting ordained, or becoming lay pioneers. it was a wonderful occasion. one of the students, steve, had put together the celebration which included a boat filled with water as a centre piece. there was a brilliant moment late on when he switched on two fans with a plastic sheet attached which became a billowing sail. this was all exploring the idea of journeying and relying on the wind of god's spriti to fill the sails for the next part of the adventure. steve had also written an opening piece of liturgy/prayer which he has kindly sent and i have put below - the same god, locating pioneers in a long line of ancestors who have gone before...
The same God who spoke in to darkness, ‘let there be light’,
The same God who was with Noah and his family in the flood,
The same God who called Abraham and Sarah and promised them the stars,
The same God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush,
And was with him through the sea and into the desert,
The same God who was with David as he approached Goliath,
With Daniel in the lions’ den,
With Samson, with Gideon, and with Jonah in the belly of a fish,
The same God anticipated by Isaiah, by Anna and by Simeon,
Who came as a baby, born in a stable, and fled as a child refugee.
The same God who turned water to wine,
walked on the seas and modelled self-sacrificing love;
healing the sick, touching the untouchable, even raising the dead.
The same God who wept.
The same God, which this world found guilty, and nailed to a cross.
This Jesus, this God, who could not be defeated but rose victorious,
This God who let his wounds be touched by doubters,
Who ascended to heaven, and descended as fire,
The same God, who appeared to Saul, and inspired a new way of living.
The same God, who has been seen in the lives of the saints past,
In Benedict, in Francis, in Julian,
in Mother Theresa, In Martin Luther King Junior and in myriad unsung heros of our faith,
This same God,
The pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
Is here with us, gathered today.
As we mark this occasion and celebrate with our pioneering friends,
May we know your presence and closeness,
your comfort and disturbance,
your grace, peace and love.
i started writing worship songs years ago because of words (ok i wasn't that keen on the music around either!). i found if difficult to find words that articulated what it was we as a community then (st matts in bath at the time) believed and wanted to express. it was a great journey of expression and led me to explore the same in alternative worship through a range of art forms. and actually it also led to setting up proost to collate songs and liturgy and movies that had this same sense of expression from the grassroots in soulful (and theological) ways. i am still surprised how few communities go this route. i get that it is more time consuming but it is so much more rewarding that simply using commodified worship songs or liturgies written in high places. though of course blending your own expression with good stuff written by others is probably even better...
anyway all that to say i was sent a link to this blog/site plural guild which is the first i have seen for a while that really embodies that spirit of articulation. and the words are words i can sing which i have to say is a refreshing change (and i know i am hard to please). so thank you to plural guild (love the notion of guild by the way)! the song below seems especially poignant today on a day when my country have voted to leave europe - love the line there is no other there is only us. there is a also a downloadable album of advent and christmas songs too. i am making these worship trick 64 in series 4
really looking forward to gav mart hosting an evening for grace on july 9. gav is a singer songwriter and will be joined by friends for 'myths from the margins' which will also be the latest in the st mary's sessions series.
i was excited to see an album from gav mart and martin daws out on proost - bring it down. gav is a musician and singer and martin is a wonderful spoken word poet. i love the blend of spoken word and music in this way. they have been touring so it's great to see they have put an album out. available here...
proost is on a roll this year with some great material - it's worth subscribing then you can log in to the back end whenever you like to download resources. don't forget if you are in the usa there is a us site here where you can pay in dollars.
i really hope it is!
i am so pleased that someone has leaked the panama papers. they show what we all know really. the so called democratic world we live in is one in which greed rules. the rich and powerful are able to make obscene amounts of money, hide it out of sight of the system and regulations, whilst at the same time not giving a s**t about the poor. in fact the poor don't exist in their world because they can lived in gated communities and go to private members clubs and avoid them. the thing i hate about it most is the sense of entitlement - people start to believe that they are superior, that they deserve it, that they are entitled to it. i really hope that this exposé will shine a light on at least some of this practice. and to state the bleeding obvious - we do not have to run a society this way. in fact it is a rubbish way to run a society. it makes my blood boil the way it is ideologically driven by the ludicrous idea of deregulation and a free market - i.e. if we leave things alone and don't intervene everything will go well. WRONG! what happens is greed rules the waves as is being demonstrated again and again again. it needs to be addressed through regulation and taxation. i think this economic disparity is the big justice issue of our time (the environment is the other huge one that we have still got our heads in the sand about and of course they are related). it is compounded by the fact that it is hard to make sense of - the financial systems seem so confusing (to me at least) that it is like dealing with smoke and mirrors; and it is hard to know what exactly we can do about it other than tweet or write a blog post. because often those rich and powerful are cozied up with the media and elected to run our governments. i am being dramatic i realise but this is an incredible drama we are witnessing.
i went to see misty in roots in concert on saturday night. they are a brilliant reggae band made famous through john peel's love of their album live at the counter eurovision in 1979. what i particularly loved about the gig was the blend of spirituality and political insight. the opening song was a praise song to god (jah - his most excellent greatness) - i recognised the words as from psalm 150. it was so uplifting (and i'd love a worship band like this!). the second song was 'poor and needy' with lines such as
Deliver the poor and needy from the hands of the wicked
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?
Defend the poor and fatherless,
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
this was then followed by 'babylon's falling' railing against corruption and hypocrisy of the powers that be through the image of babylon - that puffed up city and empire whose rulers thought they were gods and could never be called to account. but of course like all empires babylon fell in dramatic fashion. and the concert went on flowing with a spiritual and political message of lament and hope. i have been thinking about it ever since for two reasons..
the first is it reminded me of how reduced our repertoire tends to be in today's worship in churches. when did you last hear a song lamenting the state of the economy and calling for judgement on the wicked? at best we will get that in a reading. but the hymnology has generally collapsed into the private sphere where god is close to me but it makes no difference in the rest of my life, or is so abstracted up in heaven on a throne that there is no connection. it is a regular occurrence for me to go to a church and find no connection between the worship songs and what i want to express. (i am reminded of robert beckford's book jesus is dread where he asks whether you can have a black political christianity.) the size of the problem was brought home to me in a sermon i heard a while back that defended stephen green from the pulpit as 'being a nice guy' and a christian whilst making absolutely no comment on the scandal of banking he was involved in - i.e. faith collapsed into private sphere with nothing to say to the bigger justice issues of our time. i regret that i didn't stand up and shout the preacher down to be honest - i was hopping mad.
the second is that this language and imagery of babylon seems so poignant in today's world - and the panama papers is the tip of the iceberg of those who think they are like gods but for whom their empires will eventually fall and they will be called to account.
right i am actually meant to be packing my bags to head off on a silent retreat for the week - see what i hear in the presence of silence
yes before you complain i do know it's easter week and am personally reflecting on stories of the resurrection but... tuck this away for next year or something - stations of lament: hope and the poetry of pain. jason miller sent me a link to some things they had done in ohio in lent and holy week this year. i have blogged about his stuff before (though can't find the links). i don't know many communities using lamentations for worship but think there should be more. anyway one for the right season. and worship trick 62 in series 4 (that very slowly developing series!)
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where i come across creative ideas, liturgies, movies, music tracks, service outlines or anything that strikes me, i add them as worship tricks. i started these in april 2002 when i first began blogging and they have built up over the years so that i am now on the third series. this has proved a pretty popular feature of the blog.