i was surprised how much interest my previous fermenting post got - and i am happy to say it seems to have inspired a few bits of fermenting out there. it may be that people loved the photos - which did look great i agree. but i have made a few schoolboy errors i'm afraid. the main one is not paying enough attention to the waterline and for whatever reason which have been multiple i have had a few jars go mouldy because i have had things poke above it. i thought i'd better confess in the public domain so took a photo of the latest one - which i think looks rather beautiful. but it did remind me that the flip side of creativity is failure. if you can't fail you won't try stuff and you don't learn. but i have pressed through and now successfully made the following ferments...
so this week's adventure has been yoghurt and i followed the sandor katz recipe in wild fermentation. it needed 8 hours to yog rather than 4 (is that a verb?!). and i used a dried culture from bulgaria which took a while to come in the post - i didn't realise you could simply use some yoghurt to kickstart it. i don't have such luxuries as a yoghurt maker so used a cooler/coolbox with hot water in and that did the trick.
having made it i then drained one through a cheesecloth for an hour to thicken it into greek yoghurt and that is incredible. so i think i'll do the same with my second jar. it tasted delicious with fruit and some homemade granola after cycling 26 miles this morning - i can never bring myself to buy granola as it sees so over priced for essentially some toasted oats with bits in!
the photo album fermenting has a few more photos in now though i have realised i must add some of the sourdough which i kind of take fro granted having made bread for several years now but it probably the best ferment i make actually...
so there you go - that's where it's got to in my lockdown fermenting adventures.
the flipped classroom is a simple idea. you use technology to make available content for individuals to access for their learning before you meet and/or afterwards – this might be video, reading, presentations and so forth. but when you gather as a group you use the time or the bulk of it for interaction and dialogue. i've taken this approach to teaching online.
but i began wondering could you think the same about church and what would the flipped church look like? my thoughts are on the pioneer blog - click on the link. i have been pondering these things in preparation for the webinar on wednesday reimagining church
this got me trawling back through blog posts from 2005 and 2006 and i found this post and set of questions i posed wondering about the implications of the online environment for church. well here we are 14 years later asking the same questions...
can we imagine...
church beyond gathering?
church beyond once a week?
church as always on connectivity to christ and one another?
church where community is the content?
theology and resources of church being open source?
church valuing the wisdom of the crowd rather than the knowledge of the expert?
our church/spirituality being easily found by seekers because we tag it that way?
an ethos of low control and collaboration?
an economy of gift?
church as spaces for creative production and self publishing?
church as providers of resources for spiritual seekers and tourists?
at cms we have open days and evenings coming up on may 19 and june 15 for our pioneer training.
regardless of where the lockdown has got to we will be open and running all of our pioneer training options next (academic) year. we're already teaching online through zoom which i am enjoying - i like new challenges. it will be nice to meet physically and blend the two when things ease up but you can do a lot at a distance.
the kind of training we offer helps students' imagination. we hope that if they train with us they are able to think for themselves, be creative, start things, be resourceful, build community, find connection points locally, draw on resources in terms of theology and mission but apply them to where they are. and i think now more than ever the kind of approach we have is ideal for the moment we are in.
so all of that is to say do sign up if you are interested to find out more.
a reflection/piece of liturgy i wrote for grace last night. i have been struck looking at the stories of the resurrection appearances how grief and hope are often close together, and how often god’s absence and presence are experienced in the same stories. perhaps this has something to say to us in our own experience at the moment - many of us have felt god is far away and many of us have been reassured by god’s presence.
The women arrive at the empty tomb
God is nowhere
Suddenly Jesus meets them
God is now here
Mary weeping with loss in the garden
God is nowhere
The gardener speaks her name
God is now here
The disciples afraid in a locked room
God is nowhere
Then Jesus appears
God is now here
Thomas refusing to believe
God is nowhere
He touches Jesus wounds
God is now here
The disciples fish all night without a catch
God is nowhere
“Throw your net over the right side”
God is now here
Peter shattered when the cock crows
God is nowhere
A healing conversation on the beach
God is now here
Two disciples downcast on the Emmaus Rd
God is nowhere
They recognised him in the breaking of bread
God is now here
i'll be taking part in a webinar on reimagining church in a couple of weeks. it's pitched at church leaders and the idea is to share some of the learning from creative people in fresh expressions and pioneering for whom reimagining church is part of what they do to connect with groups of people outside the church or in different cultural spaces. anyway seems a great idea and looking forward to it. feel free to leave me a comment if you have any examples as i'd love to be able to chip in both conceptual things and practical ideas. one of the things we talked about in a pre-webinar conversation was low level innovation and how it is helpful to have really ordinary sorts of ideas as they seem doable rather than outlandish ones. personally i like both kinds! and feel free to join in...
grace is next saturday and will be available anywhere in the world rather than just ealing of course. here's the blurb...
We had planned for May Grace to be outdoors in a woodland but that isn’t going to happen for obvious reasons! So what we are suggesting is that we have a zoom gathering online at 8pm on May 9 - GODISNOWHERE Grace Open Mic.Here’s how it will work:
We’d like to invite all of you to create or make something to do with faith in the midst of lockdown. That could be an expression of the difficulty of it, of where you have found moments of grace in it, it could be to do with God’s presence or absence in it (NOWhere or NOwhere). If you need a start point the stories of the resurrection appearances contain many of these emotions and themes.
And it can be any art form - poem, prayer, photo, sound recording or whatever. We encourage you to make or pen something rather than share someone else’s art. If you don’t create anything please still come along. There’s no pressure through we hope some people will or it will be very short! Thanks to Richard Passmore for the title which he says he first saw via Pete Rollins.
If you would like to join us please email [email protected] and we will email you an invitation. We were going to post the link on the website but have been informed that is not a good way to do it and Zoom have changed their security.
It would be really helpful to know ahead of time who is participating so email to let us know and we can then compile an order and work out any technical challenges. Contributions are welcome from all ages.
After the Easter vigil people hung out for a while chatting and drinking which seemed to work well so the Grace cafe will be open at the end though you will need to provide your own drinks and snacks! If anyone wants to DJ via Facebook or instagram let us know and we can add the link.
following on from my last post billionaires joel sent me a link to this web site which is a genius piece of visualising wealth shown to scale. this really should make you mad - why on earth do we have this situation?!
we have a tradition in our family that jen started a few years back of giving books as easter gifts. mine this year was billionaires by darryl cunningham. it is a graphic book i.e. the stories are told in pictures like a graphic novel but it's not a novel. he tells the stories of three super rich - rupert murdoch, the koch brothers and jeff bezos. it is brilliant! it is a surprise in that you wouldn't expect a graphic book to be able to get under the lid of the issues in the way he does.
i find the whole financial systems confusing and when i have read books on economics i don't usually make it to the end especially if they are as fat as piketty's capital which i bought and never read. but super crash his previous graphic book was the most undestandable book i have read on the finance systems.
my own naive few is that the society we have allowed to exist where an individual can accumulate the level of wealth these guys do is absurd. it would be simple to deal with through taxation and creating limits and the money could be invested in society in different ways. but the obssession with not interfering and the ideology of the free market seems to stop that sort of intervention. it find it disgusting. it will be interesting to see if the current situation changes our societal view.
murdoch i knew about and the book confirmed what i thought. the koch brothers are unbelievable - i ended that section wondering how they are not in prison for the abuse of the environment. but the really disturbing thing in both of their stories is the collusion with government and media and what is essentially manipulation of power through their wealth that buys political influence. the level of cosying up should be illegal. and make no mistake these guys are hugely powerful. jeff bezos story is interesting - i genuinely like his drive and innovation but in the end his drive doesn't play out so well for workers and the stories of tax avoidance are well reported and the jury is out on what he will do with his wealth. but that is the point - why should we as a society wait for these individuals to be good philanthropists? they should never be in that position.
every story is contested. and the older the story perhaps the more challenging it is to unpick. i found myself really interested in the story of new zealand while i was there in a way i hadn’t anticipated. the particular aspect of that story that i was keen to find out more about was the story of missionaries and how they had shared the story of christ with maori and the degree to which they colluded with or indeed resisted oppression and empire. i work for the church mission society which was founded at the end of the eighteenth century by what now we would call a missional community - a group of people meeting in a pub dreaming up ideas of ways to change the world. the purpose of the cms was to share the story of christ with those who did not know it or indeed know him, which at the time was a lot of parts of the world. very early on new zealand was one of the places that cms missionaries travelled to.
i find in conversation with people that when i say i work for an organisation that sent missionaries some people wince! their assumption is that missionaries were part of the domination of the colonial enterprise. they assume the missionaries softened up the indigenous people and then the empire could grab the land in a sort of one-two move. in new zealand there is a particular twist to the story. because of atrocities elsewhere the british wanted to try and take a different approach in new zealand and this led to a treaty - the treaty of waitangi - which is the founding document of new zealand granting equal rights to maori and settlers signed in 1840. it’s a really important document and has been very significant in recent decades in a multi billion dollar programme of compensation because of the ways the treaty was ignored by the settlers. and good on new zealand - they have engaged seriously in this process of restorative justice and compensation whilst many other countries have not. the leader of cms in new zealand at the time was henry williams who was loved and trusted by the maori and he translated the document and met with the maori chiefs who eventually signed it. the point of contestation is that one spin on the story is this was a con and in translation the maori were manipulated. this felt like it was important for me to dig into and face my own story both as british and in terms of the legacy of mission - this is my whakapapa for good or ill.
when i asked around several people said you have to read huia come home by jay ruka and someone kindly gave me a copy (thank you stephanie). this intrigued me straight away because this is the indigenous bird i could now only find stuffed in a museum because it was extinct and this was the bird that appeared in several street art murals in christchurch. in the book, initially through a dream, jay reconnects with his maori roots and it leads him to explore the story of the early missionaries. he then gets into the maori worldview and spirituality and introduces that in a very accessible way. this book seems to be being read by young adults and stirring up in them a hope, a longing and a possibility for a different kind of engagement in faith into the future which is integrates maori spirituality rather than separates. i was pretty excited by those conversations. my own experience of connecting with maori was that i visited a maori church which is one of three strands of the anglican church there and i loved being there - big thanks to paul for pointing me in that direction. it did feel pretty separated in that space but i hope there are lots of quests for that connection to reimagine the future.
hula come home is a really fabulous book - it’s easy to read, provocative, and gives some of the history and maori sensibilities and worldview in an accessible way. that made me want to dig a bit deeper so i read nzcms account our story:aotearoa and bible and treaty: missionaries among the maori a new perspective by keith newman. i loved digging into these stories. i’m not going to attempt to retell the history of mission in new zealand in a blog post. as i said at the start every story is contested so i am sure there are counter tellings but a few things caught my attention...
the missionaries were shaped by their time without doubt. samuel marsden who preached the first sermon on christmas day in 1814 in new zealand believed that civilisation paved the way for openness to the gospel. my heart sank when i read that. beneath that is a worldview tainted by superiority - the dreaded colonial disease. and i am sure that was in the mindset of many missionaries however radical they were. it’s so challenging to do mission well in a way that lets go your own way of doing things and offers it as a gift inside local culture.
the missionaries loved the maori people and were trusted by them over time. cms and marsden wanted to see a flourishing maori nation and envisaged only a small number of settlers. they expected to introduce farming and other technologies to help but never envisaged the wave of settlement that took place and so had to respond accordingly. in fact in england cms were publishing pamphlets opposing widespread colonisation which got into national newspapers. cms at the time had members in parliament back in england and were weighing in at the political end to try and get a different approach to other places the empire had expanded and opposing some of the theories of colonisation being purported by those such as wakefield (see below). here’s how newman summarises the missionaries
Most were men and women of good character, determined to bring the gospel of peace, forgiveness and love to the Māori while attempting to build a life for themselves and their families. They were often accused of favouring Māori above the settlers, being opponents of colonisation, and having more land than their humble profession required.
the change point that came in terms of maori responding to the story of jesus christ was when the bible was translated and it got into maori hands. they became the ones who shared the story with their own people. the european missionaries had faithfully shared the story and some had responded to it but the reality was a hard slog over twenty years or so with little results. but it was the local maori evangelist/disciple who set it alight in extraordinary ways. there was a maori prophet toiroa who had visions of settlers in 1766 before captain james cook set foot on the shores who had said that ‘the name of their god will be son who was killed, a good god’. so this came as the fulfilment of that prophesy. the same prophesy also said that ‘however the people will still be oppressed’ which proved to be only too true.
there were some horrible characters in the early history who sound very like today’s free market capitalists - people like edward wakefield and governor earl grey (yes that is his name) out for profit regardless of the means to achieve it. some of them arrived ironically on a ship called the tory (!!). wakefield and the new zealand company were seeking to do deals to get land by hook or crook to sell to settlers. if no one was on land they claimed it was free to be taken and so on. they hated cms because missionaries advocated for the maori in the face of this injustice. and it was largely the lawlessness that was unfolding that led the crown and cms to think that a treaty was essential. coming back to henry williams, everything i have read suggests he was a good man - he loved maori, was deeply trusted by them, and was mortified that the treaty he had helped broker was largely ignored or overridden such that the maori came to feel they had been duped and it did turn into a fiasco. it is sad that there is this widespread myth about the treaty - jay ruka and keith newman say the accusations simply don’t match the historical accounts. his is a sad tale in that there was a campaign against him which sounds so like politics today - governor grey, bishop selwyn, the wakefields wanted him out of the way. cms sadly removed him from office over what proved to be false accusations and whilst he was later reinstated he was broken by the experience. i intend to ask the cms archivist to dig a bit to see what i can find out about that part of the story. this quote from newman sums up his take on the missionaries and the difference between them and those greedy for power and land
The high-minded social reformers of the Clapham Sect who set out the template for Māori to have a full say in what happened to their country well before colonisation gained any real momentum, would have been horrified at what eventually played out. Greedy men, hungry for cheap land and temporal power, betrayed and delayed the proposed partnership plan outlined in both the Bible and the Treaty of Waitangi – mocking the humanitarian promises, undermining the missionary influence and misinterpreting science with a borrowed bias from the era of slavery. Until history found them out, those responsible were determined to dispossess an indigenous people of their land in the belief that they were superior and ‘the natives’ would soon become extinct. For over forty years, dozens of European missionaries generally stood firm like guardians, concerned for the welfare of Māori and against injustice, rivalled in their passion only by the scores of Māori who brought the message of transformation to their own people.
i was interested by the tension between cms and the church of england. in the very early days cms wanted missionaries ordained but the bishops in england refused so john venn sent them as lay catechists - it sounds much like discussions around pioneers today and a good hack by john venn! bishop selwyn sounds like the kind of bishop i would hate - i bet there is a smug statue of him somewhere on his high horse. he had an abrupt manner, was very into the english churchy ways (robes, surpluses, vestments, english prayer book), looked down on those not ordained, and insisted missionaries and others come under his authority. he colluded with the corrupt new zealand company who offered him funding. he held back the possibility of ordaining maori for years creating ridiculous hoops that they could not jump through such as learning greek and latin classics and so it goes on. it reminded me why the church needs mission movements and not just denominational structures.
on that point while i was there i was reading binding the strong man which i blogged about previously - that book sees the life of christ as a confrontation with two powers of domination - dominating religious power and dominating imperial power. it was so pertinent to the stories i was reading. and in terms of my own whakapapa i feel more shame at the church of england and english empire parts than i do the cms missionaries. i feel good about being in their legacy overall.
this is all getting a bit long for a blog post… but i loved engaging with these stories though feel the pain of them too. and it raised so many important questions. is there a place for mission today? if so how can it be done in a way that has no superiority or colonial whiff about it (the technical term is post colonial i guess)? and how come these two powers of dominating religion and imperialism are so prevalent still? and what does it mean to follow in the way of christ today in the face of these powers? small questions! i downloaded post-colonial theology to read on my kindle on the flight back to london (hoping it would be helpful or send me to sleep or both!). and i hope to conclude this blog series with a comment or two about that. thanks if you have made it this far!
i am not quite sure why i got into this but in lockdown i have been exploring fermenting. i have been making sourdough for around five years so in that sense it's not new but vegetables is a whole new thing. why? i don't know! because you can. actually i think my taste palette was inspired by my visit to korea and japan a few years back where you have some fermented pickles with most meals as a side. as well as sourdough and vegetables i have also made ginger beer and got a ginger bug fizzing away. next stop is probably yoghurt and cheese i guess! i am sure you are all thinking why not beer and wine - that requires a whole lot more knowledge and equipment i think - maybe one day...
one of the things that i love is the colours so i took some photos yesterday and have started a fermenting album here. btw fermented food is great for the gut - big health benefits.
unsurprisingly we have moved all our teaching online but it does mean that for this term there is an opportunity for anyone who is interested to join in and audit a module who would otherwise not be able to travel to oxford to do so. for example you may be in another country... our focus is on pioneering mission so you'd need to be interested in that kind of practice. there are six modules this term. i am teaching one on worship for example which is designed to help give you some approaches to thinking creatively about leading worship in a way that relates to the culture or community you are in whilst drawing on the resources of the tradition (aka inculturation in mission jargon), or john drane is teaching one on bible - have a look here for the list. i have been on study leave for a couple of months and just back in the fray this week so don't know details of things such as cost but do follow the link to email if you want more info.
and when i say for this term only i guess it depends how long the lockdown goes on!
the current situation is producing all sorts of creative things in lockdown. harry has started doing a live instagram poetry show with a guest which is on every wednesday evening and works amazingly well on a phone. he has now turned it into a weekly podcast something borrowed... which is the show edited and you can follow in the usual podcast places.
smallfire has been completely overhauled by steve collins making photos larger and adding plenty of unseen photos too. it's beautifully done and is such a labour of love. thank you steve!
it has photos with short narrative underneath for various alternative worship communities. because of the nature of alternative worship it's so much easier to look at pictures to get a feel for it than simply read words.
i also liked that it is dedicated to nic hughes with a lovely section about him.
grace's easter vigil went well - like so many others we were feeling our way with the technology running it online and quickly worked out that our usual music background didn't work! i hope it went well for people who followed along on the hashtag #graceeastervigil2020 in either twitter or instagram. a big plus was having people join in who were in other countries! the communion prayer is here
it was really good fun having steve leach dj at the end live on facebook and it's still there if you want to have a listen. he played an amazing tune of his with the queen's speech mixed in which i loved.
as ever we invited people to create bits of content. i thought one was really worth sharing here as a worship trick. gill created a hand washing ritual in response to one of the readings. it is on the grace web site and has a prayer that goes along with the various kinds of washing. it's really lovely. i have put it on my phone so i can dig it out each time i wash my hands. anyway you might like it.
when christ dies on the cross the curtain in the temple is ripped from top to bottom. that curtain guarded the way into the place that only the priests could go. it is a sign that the religious power controlling access to god is ended. the way is open. in some mysterious way christ’s non violent resistance disarms the powers including the power of religious domination.
while in new zealand i read binding the strong man by ched myers. it is a brilliant commentary on mark’s gospel story of the life of jesus christ. i found it compelling. he sees jesus’ life as one of non violent resistance to the powers that oppress and dominate people. in the foreword to the twentieth anniversary edition hendricks describes it as nothing less than a project to rewild the church. i should have read it years ago.
there are two powers that jesus contends with - the imperial power of rome and the religious power of jerusalem.
myers tees up the narrative by saying that these two powers are highlighted in stories where people are oppressed by an evil spirit. the first is in the synagogue where an unclean spirit says to jesus ‘why are you interfering with us’? this is a pretty perceptive question because within the first few chapters of mark jesus has interfered with the way the religious world is controlled and organised by breaking laws of the sabbath, healing people, suggesting that god has come to those who the religious world deems unclean - touching lepers, eating with ‘scum’ tax collectors, touching a woman who is unclean through bleeding, blind beggars, gentiles and the list goes on. he messes with what is clean and dirty. within three chapters the heavies from jerusalem have been sent up to investigate and accuse jesus of being possessed by the devil. and so it goes on from there. jesus does not mince his words when he confronts the religious authorities about how they burden and oppress people. his stark warning to his followers is ‘beware the yeast of the pharisees’. this all eventually comes to a head in jerusalem where jesus turns the tables in the temple which is the heart of the religious ordering and system which is ripping off the poor, and while the disciples are admiring the building he says that within a generation it will be destroyed. and sure enough that is exactly what happens. as myers puts it “jesus now offers a vision of the end of the temple-based world, and the dawn of a new one in which the powers of domination have been toppled.”
the second story is where jesus crosses a lake and encounters a man who is oppressed by ‘legion’. myers says that can only be heard as a reference to roman military power by readers that somehow dominates this man’s life so that he is in chains. jesus frees him from this domination. jesus is ultimately executed by this state power. it’s hard to say how much they perceive him to be a threat. today is good friday when we remember christ’s death which was at the hands of the imperial state and the religious authorities who colluded together. but my own take is that the real anger and drive for it came from the religious authorities. it was their world that jesus threatened so much.
the opening lines in mark’s gospel are about a way - preparing a way. jesus life shows a radical alternative way. i have always found this way amazing and inspirational - i have often noticed how many people like jesus but are put off by the church. in my own clunky way i want to follow him in that way. and i have been stirred up by this notion that to follow in that way is to live in a way of non-violence, of activism, and of resistance to the powers of domination. it is a way that has at its heart a vision for a different kind of world (kingdom as jesus calls it) of peace, of cancelling debts, of love, healing and non judgement, and fairness for all that welcomes those who the powers exclude precisely because all are god’s children. god is not the preserve of the wealthy, powerful and religious.
i was thinking about these powers in relation to colonialism while i was in new zealand and i will come back to that in another post. but today i am thinking about religious powers of domination and control in the church and in particular the church of england of which i am a life long member and a lay pioneer minister.
in a previous post i suggested we need more imagination and less control especially as people seek to be creative online in how they worship and pray and do community. these are challenging times and as i said in a previous post there is a lot of good work and practice going on. but the lockdown has brought home to me just how far we stray at times from the way of christ in the church. it is the sharing of communion in particular that has vexed me this week.
jesus instituted a meal with friends where bread and wine are shared and people have done that ever since in homes and churches to remember christ. jesus life was one where he was always in trouble over meals - he ate with the wrong people who were always welcome at his table, though he usually was round theirs.
fast forward to coronavirus and the church is holding online eucharist services with guidelines that the only people who can share the bread and wine in their homes are bishops and priests. everyone else can watch apparently! so for easter day for example which is a day when all are encouraged to take communion suggested activities are:
Some bishops and priests may wish to celebrate Holy Communion in their homes.
Practising spiritual communion as this is a day on which all ought otherwise to receive Holy Communion in church.
spiritual communion is explained here - and is for situations where you can't share bread and wine. in many cases i suspect and indeed i hope that those leading the service will not have it but use the absence of sharing bread and wine to reflect on this moment of separation. and some will choose not to have services of communion which is probably a good option if you want to obey the guidelines. the idea that just the priests would have communion i find unbelievable both in itself and that it could be in print in public - i did a double take to check i was reading it right. this makes it both exlusive and a rite of exclusion! surely the obvious thing to do and what everyone will want to do and i hope will do is to share bread and wine in their own homes to remember christ. it saddens me that the church has not got the imagination to say this is healthy practice. there is a regulation in the canons of the church (scroll down to b5) that gives discretion to ministers for unusual circumstances to lead worship that is different. for example they may...
on occasions for which no provision is made... use forms of service considered suitable for those occasions and may permit another minister to use the said forms of service.
we are in such an occasion surely! so i hope ministers act anyway.
the church has a lot of regulations about communion - what prayers, who can preside, where it can take place and so on. in grace we have found these frustrating and sought permission to use other prayers and write our own which we have done over the years. we have respected having someone preside who is ordained when we meet in st mary's church as we are part of the church of england. one curious regulation is that a place needs to be authorised if it's not a consecrated building like a church. so whenever we meet in homes we regularly share bread and wine in a simple informal way usually as part of a meal and concluded those ordained should not preside because the buildings have not got the permission - i know it's nuts. bishops are likely to have had to give permission for priests to lead communion from their homes online i suspect! i have written about grace's approach in the introduction to making communion if you are interested. the church of england says on the one hand that it values creativity, that the shape and integrity of worship is what is important and not the words in themselves and we need new ways of doing things but in practice it is still extremely controlled and locked down.
the church has various justifications through sacramental theology and other clever sounding ruses. but really it is an issue of control. these are things the church has constructed, made up, nothing more and i can't help thinking they are in direct opposition or at least massively out of kilter to the way of christ. how do you get from what he did to what the church is saying at this time? it's completely baffling. beware the yeast of the pharisees. the curtain in the temple seems to have been stitched back together. the central structures of the church of england have somehow created a scenario in which there is a priestly caste who control access to god because it is only through their magic actions that people can have communion, bread and wine to remember christ. if one of them is not in your home tough. it's absurd! the religious power of domination is alive.
i refuse to collude with it. it’s power was disarmed by christ’s death on the cross. i will be happily remembering the story of christ and sharing bread and wine online with others in grace and in my own home with jenny. this is we note from the guidelines not going to be an official church of england communion. but we will be making communion. i hope there are homes and indeed vicars up and down the country who ignore the church’s guidelines on this. i get to go to various meetings in the church of england where the rhetoric is that the church is committed to mission, to lay ministry (that means people who are not ordained) and the vision of the church is to empower all of its people with a vision called ‘setting god’s people free’. how are we supposed to take that seriously?!
some years back at another time when i was bumping into the religious power of domination in the church of england in another way, i made an art installation called red tape in which i ring fenced the table with barrier tape and bound the bible in red tape and wrapped a dog collar in red tape. i couldn't help thinking about it again today...
from my experience of communion in homes over the years, a simple way to do it is to do so in a meal and share bread and wine either between courses or at the end. give space to tell the story of christ in some way and to remember his life. death and resurrection. invite participation and conversation, use one of the stories from the gospels, maybe one of the meals jesus is at. have a prayer of thanksgiving - the official church ones are online, you can find one you like from elsewhere - such as the iona community or grace, or someone can improvise one. if you improrvise it it helps to have an idea of the shape of those kinds of prayers. in our grace easter vigil we will be using a thanksgiving prayer for easter written by the st hilda community and janet morley which has really lovely words. then give some space to share and pray for one another. it's not hard!
this week the church remember's the story of the passion - jesus' last week including the last supper, his death, and then through to the resurrection on easter morning. it will be so interesting to see what people do in their homes on their own and online connecting with one another in real time through technologies or by participation in shared practices and resources shared online. i don't intend to spend the week posting links but if i see anything that grabs my attention i'll let you know or by all means leave a comment. i am sure some of the links are now broken but anything i have linked to before can be scrolled through here. my advice for what it is worth is to pick something and linger with that rather than get overwhelmed with loads of things.
lots of churches are posting regular services online with links to songs on youtube videos and downloadable childrens packs and words and liturgy on youtube, or via livestream. so if that's your thing there's lots out there to suit all sorts of tastes. people have had to go on a steep learning curve with technology in some cases but huge effort is going into that. i have seen lots that is really well done. it's not the kind of thing i normally go to so it's not the kind oif thing i will be doing this week either. but for lots of people it's what they know and love.
in grace we tend to go for one thing in holy week and put some effort into that. this year we are doing the saturday night easter vigil which seems really fitting this year though we had decided to do that before the virus. there are two ways you can participate - it will be live on zoom - we'll post a link and expect that to be our more regular people or those in the grace diaspora but i think you can fit 100 people in zoom so we'll see who shows up. then secondly there will be a hashtag #GraceEasterVigil2020 . you can jump onto a flow by following that hashtag in twitter or instagram or the grace facebook page. the vigil is in four parts and we'll be doing all four of those between 10pm and midnight. but of course those links will stay online so you can visit them when you like and you could just choose the parts that connect. if you choose to follow that way we'd love you to participate by posting using that hashtag too rather than just consuming. we will post some more info on this on the grace web site later in the week so do have a look back there. it will include a few items to gather so you are prepared for example.
two other things have caught my attention. one is that tess ward has reworked a whole easter retreat and will be posting all sorts through the week. tess is an amazing writer who has a gift for crafting lovely liturgy and prayers so i have high expectations for that. see her blog for all the info you need
and then there is an easter vigil called rumours of hope that looks like it will be good - it sounds as though it will have a range of pieces of content to fuel your own prayer and reflection through the evening and night. i like it that is a church of england thing that is not just a broadcast of a service but something more imaginative and artful. i don't actually know anything about the context i should add. i got invited to be involved but as grace was already committed could not do both though i am sure there can be some mutual hashtag sharing.
anyway whatever you do i hope the story comes alive for you this week. i hope to get round to revisiting communion online but we'll see how the week goes as i am trying to do some writing and not get overly distracted!
i am adding this as a worship trick as it feels these are all in the spirit of those even though i haven't added many for a while.
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