i am looking forward to october 14 when we have a day at cms on pioneering spirituality. this follows on from the day we had last year. that was so good we ended up producing the pioneer gift. there are several speakers and workshop leaders. i am particularly chuffed that steve bevans will be with us as he is one of my heroes... the idea of the day is to push out conversation and thinking about pioneering mission about which we are learning lots and have lots more questions. i hope too that we will simultaneously begin to pull together some resources around pioneering spirituality. we'll keep you posted.
reflections is a magazine that is produced by yale divinity school reflecting on a theme in relation to theology and/or spirituality. the current issue (spring 2014) is on the challenge of faith in a changing culture and how that is impacting on a younger generation of adults. each issue has a guest photographer and i am the photographer for the current issue. i have a dozen of so magazines - if you are in the uk and want one let me know. if you are in the us you can sign up and receive it for free. all the articles are also online.
excited about a new resource on proost this month - it's a collection of prayers from russ parker on the theme of wild spirit. russ led the pilgrimage to ireland i went on recently and we've known each other for probably 25 years now. this is typical russ - raw, direct, impassioned, creative and infused with longing and a wildness of the spirit... a must and ideal for pentecost of course. here's the latest proost news as well.
just back from a wonderful eight days pilgrimage in ireland with a group of pioneers visiting some of the sites of early irish christianity and its saints, trying to imagine and be inspired by the stories. it was a fantastic time. i hope to add a few thoughts about it. first up i have added a set of photos to my flickr pages - ireland pilgrimage.
following oin from my first post about lent resources on proost, we have published another! and it's a first on proost for andy freeman - francis: stories and reflections
This new devotional book comes from Andy's love of St. Francis and includes creative rewritings of the stories of Francis mixed with practical activities, prayers and reflections. There are forty daily devotions in all so it is perfect to accompany Lent but also can be used at any time throughout the year. The book is also accompanied by five original drawings from Andy's daughter Jess.
i always like to have something on the go daily in lent and if you too like that then this fits the bill.
i have neglected to blog about proost here for a while. we have had a bundle of new resources of late. lent has become a really strong season for creativity in worship and spirituality for those on the alternative/emerging end of things. we have gradually built up quite a collection. anyway here's the latest proost news which outlines some resources old and new…
Lent was once described as the "bright sadness". It's a season which embraces every human emotion and every spiritual experience. In this time we learn to hope in pain, to become at peace in turmoil. At Lent we learn to find God in all things. We hope some of the resources available on Proost will help you in this journey.
This month we're launching a wonderful new book by Tim Watson. Old Lost and Broken Dreams is a beautifully moving journey through pain, disappointment and loss through poems, litanies, blessings and prayers. This is a wonderfully inspiring book to help you through Lent as Tim's inspiration is St. John of the Cross' idea of the Dark Night of the Soul - that somehow at our weakest point we learn new maturity in our understanding of God. Tim writes
"And as we journey through life as people of faith we will face all kinds of challenges. Perhaps we will find ourselves feeling like isolated prophets. Perhaps sometimes we will feel like Thomas after the resurrection. Sometimes we will have more questions than answers. Sometimes we will have to wait doggedly for the voice of God or for the leading of the Holy Spirit."
I want to recommend this book to all of you. I found it deeply inspiring as I read the manuscript before publication and I've come back to the poems and prayers again and again since then. I'll be looking to use a poem or prayer each day to help me through Lent. Do take a look.
As well as Tim's new book there are lots of resources in our Lent section of the website. A particularly popular resource is Si Smith's 40 and it's accompanying 40 Book by Si and Chris Goan. These are two inspiring interactions with the story of Jesus in the wilderness with moving words and beautiful illustrations. Each Lent we find loads of people download this resource and love it, coming back to it each year.
Another great resource is Cave by Harry Baker. This is all about seeking God alone and echoes the yearnings and challenges we all find in solitude and isolation. Harry's poetry is incredibly popular and this one is a Proost favourite.
At Lent we often find people seek out Pocket Liturgies on the site to help their community or church travel through the season together. Making Communion from Grace is one of the most popular in this line of Liturgies. Making Communion is the second set of Liturgies from Grace but specifically explores Communion and is packed with creative, innovative approaches to the church's most ancient rite. It also has a long introduction which helpfully shares Grace's story and how they have negotiated a creative approach within the Church of England.
As well as these individual resources you may want to explore the other areas of the website. A Get it Allsubscription is a great way to do this, enabling you to get your hands on everything on the site for one whole year. Why not sign up today?
This is the first of two updates you'll be getting from us this Lent as we have more new resources to launch shortly. Watch this space.
The Proost Team
i remember when we created the labyrinth at st pauls cathedral how surprised i was that lighting a candle on a laptop by clicking on it with a mouse felt right - it was conducive to prayer, it mediated a spiritual encounter. that was back in 2000 and the world of digital technology has changed enormously...
on saturday at grace at home in the world we were exploring ignatian spirituality and in the grace facebook page is a list of suggestions of resources for people to follow that up. we did an examen at grace and one that was mentioned was an app called examine which i have since added to my phone and intend to try and use. it enables you to do the ignatian examen and it tracks the previous 90 days so you can get a sense of the flow. i'll let you know how i find it. i am making it a worship trick - 50 in series 4.
but it got me wondering what apps people use for prayer and spirtuality on a regular basis. perhaps if you have some you use, you could leave a comment, a tweet, or facebook message? it might also be that you have ideas for an app?! in which case add those as well.
love this advent calendar in sound. it's an absolutley huge amount of time and effort that must have gone into creating it. the intro on the blog explains it all but essentially a speaker a day is added through advent to jacob's ladder. it's by artist sunil chandy and if you are anywhere near penge or beckenham in london go visit...
and of course this is a worship trick - 47 series 4.
in our twentieth year in grace we are revisiting some old themes in a new playful way. last night's grace was a rework of communion by numbers. in the original, a liturgy was followed through by opening a sequence of envelopes around tables in a cafe style and following through a service together. the twist this time round was that each table needed to follow the hashtag #XmasByNos on twitter and instructions arrived via phone or ipad. it worked wonderfully well. and it was particularly amazing to have a few people joining in at the same time from other parts of the world. if you follow the hashtag you can see the instructions, link to some photos, see the tunes played and rework the service yourself.
at the bottom of this post here there are links to the various prayers used including a eucharistic prayer for christmas. i wasn't involved in the planning - it's always fun to arrive at a grace not knowing what is going to happen...
i am making it worship trick 46 in series 4
ian adams latest book running over rocks came out over the summer. i read it on holiday (our holiday started out sharing a meal with ian and gail before cycling from south to north devon so it was nice to catch up with ian as well). it's a lovely book of spiritual practices.
there are a number of reasons i like the book.
the first is that i think i have become more and more interested in how to live a life. that is perhaps a glaringly obvious thing to say. is there any other option? in the summer john drane was reflecting with some of our pioneer students that the old adage believe-belong-behave had been reconstructed some years back as belong-believe-behave but now the front foot is perhaps on behave-belong-believe. i can think of a thousand argumenst to have with that phrase anyway which is not the point - the point is that it reminded me that lifestyle or how to live out a life as a human, as a person, in community, following christ, that somehow makes a difference in the world is what many people are seeking after. in other words its a life that is embodied, lived, practised. i certainly am interested in a life of faith that enables me to live in a more christlike, prayerful way, paying attention to the world, god, others.
the second is that i think ian has a great way with language - he seems to talk about faith in a way that is open and welcoming and accessible and creative. i am sure he has thought hard and worked carefully on this. it's no mean feat.
the third is that the practices are really good and helpful. there are 52 in total and they are organised into sections - like earth and body, stillness and movement, possibility and so on. you can dive into any section or any practice. you could pick a practice each week of the year. i think it would make a good book for a community to go through in a season like lent. the practices are also a good mix of ancient tried and tested along with creative and fresh ideas. here's how ian describes practices in the intro
Practices are the earthy business of encountering ideas, then working out how they might take shape in us. They help us move from aspiration to reality. They work slowly over time. We shouldn't expect immediate results, but we can expect that through them the change for good that we seek will come, gradually forming something new within us.
the fourth is that ian has great wisdom. he has soaked himself in much of the understandings of those who have navigated the religious life and draws on it in a way that is accessible but has depth. the section of practices of descent is a good example.
the fifth is that ian has written a poem for each practice so there are over 50 poems which is a delightful addition.
practice takes practise - in other words this is not a book to read like i did - in a week! it's one to try out and practise. in my defence i have kept the book with my journal having read it so that i will come back to many of the practices. it reminds me a little bit of anthony de mello's book sadhana a way to god - which is a book i have come back to so many times with its spiritual exercises.
ian and gail are leading a retreat in may which looks like an absolute bargain if you would like a weekend to be introduced to some of the ideas.
if you are interested download a copy of the annual report for the cms pioneer training course i lead. the idea of an annual report may not sound that exciting but I really like writing it as it's a chance to look back and reflect. it's now 3 years since we started which is hard to believe. it's been both hard work and fantastic in equal measure. people say that it takes 3 years for a start up to get established so i think we have made it - it feels like it. we have a new year of students starting the week after next. at this point we have 13 or 14 new who will be doing either an MA or Foundation Degree - which is a really nice number. the will be joining the other two year groups and on top of that we will have people doing individual modules. it never seems to stand still...
if any of you reading are pioneering, into mission, or whatever way you want to describe it, check out what we are doing. a couple of good ways in are ReSource weekends , and we also have a day in november conversations on pioneering presenting research around pioneering mission with a number of speakers that is going to be a really good day. i will blog about that separately in the next couple of weeks.
beth keith has published a piece of research looking at fresh expressions of church amongst young adults. i always love beth's work - she has a knack of lifting the lid off things that then seem obvious in hindsight. the report is called authentic faith and you can buy it here - i am hoping a couple of our younger pioneers might review it for the pioneer site but meantime here's a piece by beth that gives a few headlines and here are some comments in response by young adults.
she identifies 5 different types of church - church planting hubs, youth church grown up, deconstructed church, church on the margins, context shaped church
the most interesting part for me is around groups are are connecting with those outside of church. she says
The churches managing to reach young adults with no prior faith or church experience - and from a broader socio-economic background - exhibit very different traits and practices. Meeting more often around the dining table than the church building; eating together is the new 'Sunday service'.
I learn most from experience, from being out in the context that is being explained and taught. I smell it, taste it, imbibe it and assimilate it, and then I can apply what I learned to other scenarios. I learned more and was challenged and excited more than I have been in the entire academic year, this weekend. It reminded me who I am in a way that the classroom never can.
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 recenty spoke about soulwork. forgive the wordplay but more recently i got to visit s korea for the first time and take part in some seoulwork (!) with the diocese of seoul. i have added a set of photos to flickr here (though i didn't have much time to get out and about on my own with a camera). and i have written about the trip here - pioneering in seoul.
ian adams runs morning bell - it's a simple e-mail and usually one sentence to reflect on prayerfully each day, a call to prayer. it gets sent via e-mail, twitter, facebook - take your pick. i realise i think i have never made it a worship trick so will add it to the series...
starting today is a series on silence with images and thoughts from me...
thanks to bob carlton for the link to #4, a poem from empire remixed blog that begins like this.
comrades in the struggle for
the Party w/out a vanguard
the anarchic community of communities...
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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.