i have only just got round to adding a few photos from my trip to canada to flickr - see canada 2013
i am back from canada - jet lag has kicked in so up in the middle of the night with a confused body clock! it was delightful to be with the united church of canada again to take part in worship matters. i first made a visit in 2005 to winnipeg to take part in morph. since then at least a couple of groups from the united church of canada have visited the uk and greenbelt to get a sense of what is going on here. and there is a huge group coming over this summer as well. the conference i took part in was on worship with three keynote speakers of which i was one along with ruth duck and jana childers. looking back at my slides from 2005 i am still banging on about much the same things - mission, worship and culture and now with an added focus on pioneering!
it's a great privilege to travel and visit other parts of the world and other parts of the church. i remember being in paris one time and andrew jones in a prayer thanking god for the redemptive gift of the church in france. i thought it was a lovely phrase and like the idea that each part of the church and indeed each culture has a gift that is unique to itself to offer to others. i certainly have found the united church of canada to be the bearer of gifts. two of those struck me again this time. they have a great openness and welcome - these guys are always fun to be with and incredibly hospitable. their commitment to welcome all was embodied in welcoming all people regardless of sexual orientation to membership and ordered ministry back in 1988, and also in their commitment to justice and partnership with aboriginal/first nations people in canada. i don't remember this from my first visit but the second gift i was struck by is how the theology is articulated in the songs. there has clearly been an investment in hymn and song writing. it's refreshing to encounter a different approach to singing. i found it a lot more inspiring than the old hymns that keep being sung in churches in england (not that they are all bad i hasten to add) or the contemporary worship songs that often seem lacking in theological articluation or at least rarely have themes that grab my attention (it reminded me that the reason i first started writing songs was precisely to try and articulate theological ideas). ruth duck was one of the other speakers and she is a hymn writer who has been part of this kind of articulation. i don't know her work that well though i do have a book by her on the shelf on language in using words in worship, but she is clearly somethng of a pioneer in both hymn writing and use of language in liturgy that is fair and just and it was clear she is much loved by the united church in canada.
gary paterson is the moderator of the united church of canada and spoke on the last morning on luke 10 - it was an amazing talk and quite surprised me. my memory of the last visit i made was that mission was an uncomfortable word - it had associations with imperialism that seemed hard to shake off. i was advocating a recovery of it and did the same this time. but gary was certainly encouraging a new confidence in being sent in mission with good news. the times we live in certainly call for such a challenge. the united church of canada have started a network called edge which is connecting and encouraging fresh expressions of church and revitalising existing congregations. rob dalgleish has been to the uk a few times now and been inspired by the gift from the uk church of trying new things in mission and is now heading this edge programme up. it's great to see this emerging.
i rather liked this piece on gary's blog in which he quotes from chris corrigan, a consultant who does a lot of work with the united church in canada, who describes the people he meets in the united church in canada as "heretics of hope".
for those who were there it was great to meet you - thank you so much for the invitation and welcome. i have sent my presentations to alydia - give her a shout if you would like to get hold of them. the books that were on sale that disappeared were curating worship whch is published here and alternative worship which you can pick up used for 1 cent! the pocket liturgy book is available to order on your side of the pond through lulu.com here - making communion. and do check out proost where you can subscribe and/or buy individual books as downloadable pdfs including making communion.
right now to try and stay awake today....!
occasionally something comes along that is a wonderful surprise. this happened to me recently when a book arrived in the post called and we will become a happy ending. it's a collection of stories and sayings, ponderings and pictures that describe a church called theStory in canada - it fuses meditation, liturgy, prayer, art, theology. it's laid out beautifully like a coffe table book. it really is amazing. you can preview the book here
when things like this come along i find myself filled with hope. it's a real labour of love. it's available on proost i am delighted to say - proost exists for precisely this sort of creative publishing that comes from the bottom up. it's available as a downloadable pdf. of course if you are a subscriber it's available as part of your subscription! i actually have 10 physical copies that i have bought - they cost me around £15.50 each by the time postage is added. i am very happy to pass them on at cost price so if you know me or bump into me just ask. or you can order it through amazon.
i was contacted by geez magazine a while back to ask permission to use a photo. i was delighted to be asked having heard good things about the magazine (and pleased that that is the third magazine i have had a photo in this year). well yesterday a copy dropped on the doormat. hailing from canada, it looks great, is intelligent, funny and poignant. a couple of the people working on it have done time with adbusters which didn't surprise me - it has a similar feel. on the 'feel' of the magazine the eds replied in the letters page to someone who didn't like the name by saying that they wanted a name that suggests they are in the realm of religion but not in a typical way, that the exploration of topics is more like saturday evening over beers than sunday morning with its strictures. each issue has a theme. the current one is inspired by gandhi's notion of experiments in truth (which i was inspired by in mark scandrette's book a couple of years back) - put legs on an idea try something out such as downward mobility or sit in public, see what happens. don't just sit there theorising. the magazine is like greenbelt - i.e. it's a space in church life where you actualy feel good about being a christian rather than embarrassed if you know what i mean. the magazine has been running a daringly awkward sermon contest - 300 words only. the nest issue will have a bundle of winners.
on the subject of magazines conspire also looks like an interesting new zine on the block birthed out of the simple way community - a different approach to how the economics and distribution works, with communities subscribing to be able to distribute it free having signed up and agreed to donate towards it as a community.
we are doing our own experiment in truth again this week - off to run dekhomai at the london mind body spirit festival chatting with, listening to, praying with, massaging feet of, making prayer bracelets with, doing jesus deck readings for visitors to our stand. the experiment? take christian spirituality out of the church box and into the spiritual marketplace and join in with what god is already doing... if you pray, do pray for us. we hope the 'energy is strong' in our booth :-)
i have been to canada a few times now doing some training and connecting with a few people involved in mission and reflecting on how church can emerge in the new postmodern environment (or whatever we call it now) there. and i have followed with interest some of the creative edges there to see what is growing and emerging. jordon cooper was one the first fellow bloggers i discovered when i started blogging back in the day when only a few of us were and i think that connected me in with canada. plus i have several friends there...
in some ways it feels a bit more like the uk than the usa does as a mission context partly because less people go to church. anyway it was with interest i watched the dvd one size fits all and it was great to hear/watch stories in a variety of places in canada where newness is emerging. and a couple were things started by people i had met before now. it's amazing to see the parallels in terms of challenges and change in different parts of the world. these things are small and fragile but that's true everywhere i think.
forge canada has been launched
well i'm a bit slow on the uptake but josh lyon blogged a post this one's for jonny with a link to aerotone, an e-label in germany producing very ambient music. and the big plus is it's nearly all free! le mepris is the album josh recommends which i like too - it's all piano based... and yes josh i will make it a worship trick - thanks! no 35, series 3
this photo may not seem much but it is is the first picture i have taken with my new lens - i have been saving up and splashed out. i unpacked the lens and was sat at the table at my friend ed's house, looked around and this was the first thing i saw. the lens lets so much more light in that the shutter speed is much faster than it would be on the regular lens that came with the camera. i was astonished to see how the shot came out. why this lens? i have been inspired by thomas hawk who says it's his favourite lens.
canadian journal resonate first edition is online. there is a lot there. the first issue focuses on liminality - if you are wondering what that might mean read len hjalmarson's forty years in a narrow space which is a really good piece. here's a taster...
Liminality is a place in between. It is emptiness and nowhere. Adolescence is the liminal space between childhood and adulthood. But liminality is more than a point along the way to somewhere else. It represents anti-structure to structure, chaos to order. The place between two world views is a liminal place. It is a place of dying and rebirth, even of metamorphosis, the place where the caterpillar spins its cocoon and disappears from view. Liminality is Israel in the desert, Jesus in the tomb.
The Latin word limina means threshold. Liminality is where all transformation happens. It is when we are betwixt and between, and therefore by definition “not in control.” Nothing new happens as long as we are inside our self-constructed comfort zone. Much of our day to day effort at life is toward maintaining our personal little world. Richard Rohr comments that,
“Nothing good or creative emerges from business as usual. This is why much of the work of God is to get people into liminal space, and to keep them there long enough so they can learn something essential. It is the ultimate teachable space.. maybe the only one. Most spiritual giants try to live lives of “chronic liminality” in some sense. They know it is the only position that insures ongoing wisdom, broader perspective and ever-deeper compassion. The Jewish prophets… St. Francis, Gandhi, and John the Baptist come to mind.
Liminal space tends to be counterintuitive. In liminal space we need to walk in the opposite direction. We not eat instead of eat – we remain silent instead of talking. We search for emptiness instead of fullness. In liminal space we descend and intentionally do not ascend; “status reversal” instead of status-seeking. We indulge in shadow boxing instead of ego confirmation.
Few of us choose liminal space. Instead, God usually has to engineer the journey. Someone we trusted fails us; a job we counted on suddenly ends; a child or spouse dies; we are struck blind on the road to Emmaus. Once we arrive there, we are disinclined to call it home. This is why spiritual directors and counselors are often sought in times of transition.. we need outward support and encouragement to endure liminal space. On our own we tend to run for security, back to the familiar gardens of Egypt.
the threat of me starting a category of posts called the old bill has pushed bill in to starting his own blog theoldbill which i am sure will be fab... i have added it to my list and will follow along.
made it back ok from canada. the usual missing a night's sleep was made better by the anticipation of the liverpool chelsea game which i'm sure you will know chelsea lost... - congrats to the reds. can't camplain after the season we've had.
found a couple of pics that never got added to the photo album of our trip to winnipeg. the first (click on image) is of the sign on the steps at one of the entrances to knox church - truly astonishing... maybe there's a cross cultural thing going on or did rubbers mean something else in a different era?
then the second is of wheat grass. dave and i tried a shot of it at a juice bar. as it sound it is grass crushed/juiced and comes out very dark green. you then have a chaser of orange juice (to take the taste away). it's supposed to be good for you but unsuprisingly it tasted like grass and we probably won't be having it again...
well this weekend i finally met the legendary jordon cooper. he was one of the people who first inspired me to start a blog 3 years ago or so. i checked back and he is name checked in my first ever post... he and wendy and their son mark had driven from saskatoon to winnipeg to meet us (and have a long weekend break) which was very humbling. we chatted over a beer last night, a small group of us (others were dave, bill, michelle, brendan, mark) hung out in a cafe this afternoon informally chatting about faith, blogging, the church, missional leadership, money, art installations and the like and then i ended up having dinner and chatting more with jordon, wendy and mark in the evening. this was a real treat and i hope our paths cross again. i think that the resonate model of developing a national network is excellent and hope and pray it grows in dreams and influence and people in canada.
it was also good to meet mark humphries who has recently published a bridge between two worlds , his story so far. i read it over the weekend - it tells the account of mission in winnipeg to various subcultures revolving around the red herring cathedral/cafe. he is now spinning various plates, one of which is semaphore and as you can see from the web site they have done some fabulous alt worship stuff.
dave preached this morning and did a good job. in the church there is a huge organ. when i was talking about cultural change on friday night it occured to me what an amazing contrast there was between the technology of the organ and the ipod i was using to play music. reminded me of some of the mcluhan probes on technological change. anyway it inspired a photo (click on the image to see a larger version)...
tomorrow we head back to the uk - back in time for the second leg of the champions league semi final between chelsea and liverpool :-)
it's snowed and rained and been cold every day so far in winnipeg, but we have had a great time. i was very worried that anything we might have to offer from london might not resonate or connect with somewhere so far away (i think bill was slightly nervous as well as he had persuaded the planning group to invite us). friday night was the big night. we had been flown from london to do a two hour presentation. and (phew) it went wonderfully well.
we led a worship experience (if anyone is visiting from the conference hi! a list of where most of the items - music, images, liturgy etc is here - the parable of the sower is by jonbirch). and then i spoke on alternative worship, mission shaped church and some of what is happening in the uk. the thing that seemed to really connect was the notion that insights from cross cultural mission have a lot to offer in our own contexts. i think the reason this thought hit home in the united church is that there is a perception that mission is a bad word because of the imperialistic history of mission (the imposing of our culture on foreign cultures). so when i suggested that maybe there is a good and contextual history of mission to learn from and that the imperialism we rightly have turned away from is still playing out but in our own culture (i.e. we expect people to come to us and buy into our culture to get God) it really sparked peoples thinking. i can't post any notes because i didn't have any - i just had a lot of slides in the presentation that reminded me what i was talking about... people have asked for slides or the quotes or whatever so i have uploaded some of them along with some i never got round to talking about. if you want to see the images of grace have a look at the grace pages on small fire. flea circus was a playstation 2 ad from a few years back - not sure where you can get that now. and the morphing jesus video is a worship trick that you can download.
it was also great to meet eric elnes who is leading a very creative church, scottsdale united using the arts and jazz in worship in phoenix. his stuff was very complementary to what we were doing. hopefully both together sparked people enough to do the imaginative work of how to grow church and express worship in the soil of their own cultures/contexts. he is part of what is being termed progressive christianity which seems to bit a bit of a new movement stirring. i need to find out a bit more about it. it felt like a really small world when i discovered that bonnie greene, the other keynote speaker, used to publish materials for the institute of christian studies in toronto - their books really helped shape my thinking about 20 years ago...
dave is preaching this morning at bill's church - knox. (btw bill's nick name has become 'the old bill'). bill is an amazing person - it has been brilliant to get to know him. he has amazing insights and wisdom and creativity. he is also very chaotic so you are never quite sure until the last minute what he is going to do or produce but everything he led or did at the conference was artistic genius - the crafting of words, turns of phrase etc... i have discussed blogging with bill as he clearly hangs out in that world but he says he could never keep a blog together. but he has so many nuggets to share with the world that i am trying to persuade him to e-mail me whenever he finds something or creates something new and i will start a category on the blog called the old bill to post these nuggets to...
the morph planning team have created an online community web site to share resources which is a great idea.
arrived in winnipeg... last week it was 26 degrees but today there was light snow which was a surprise.
this is bill millar, the man responsible for inviting us over. was fun meeting up and chatting about mission, culture, indigenous church and all that (another virtual meeting becomes meeting in person which seems to be a regular thing now - am looking forward to meeting jordon and wendy on sunday).
thanks mike for your comment that made me laugh a lot but no morph is not just a little brown plasticene man from Tony Hart's art programme :-)
am off on weds with dave to morph 2005 in winnipeg. it's a conference of the united church of canada looking to imagine how it can engage in mission and worship with the emerging culture(s). i'll be doing one of the plenary sessions sharing from experiences in the uk and leading some alt worship. looking forward to it. i think there may be an informal get together of people involved in alt worship/emerging church on the sunday afternoon and evening if anyone is around (it was due to be monday but has had to be shifted due to flight times)
happy easter christ is risen!
josh lyon has posted this wonderful idea called shine like stars. take an image of christ such as the one below (that josh used) which is in black and white. on a sheet of paper tack tiny holes where the dark areas of the image are. put the sheet on an overhead projector and you should get an image of christ like a constellation of stars.
thanks for visiting my blog. i realise it's a bit old school to expect you to actually come to my world, but subscribe to the feed or select the relevant presences from the middle column and hopefully i'll come to your world and tweet or whatever to save you the hassle of coming back :-)
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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.