jeremy woodham, a friend and colleague at cms, is also a bit of a wordsmith and poet. he is a member of the lounge, a small christian community in ealing, and was a member of vaux back in the day. he let slip yesterday that he has been quietly starting a blog - take back the poetry. there are already some wonderful pieces on there. it really is good! i love this piece we are all unequal and am adding it to the worship tricks series - no 30 series 4, but do go and have a scout round and add it to your reader. i'll definitely be revisiting. try supper stories and lord's prayer for example...
We come together
because things are not right
because we don’t know what to make of the world
because we are bewildered
because we need shelter
We come together
because peace has not come
because your kingdom is a long time coming
because your will is hardly clear
and yet brutally clear
because we are threatened on all sides
because we have lost our way
We come together
because we notice the gap
between who we know we are
and who we want to be
and we feel giddy on its edge
We come together
because Jesus said, Come to me and I will give you rest
I will give you living water for your soul
I am the bread of life
because Jesus turned on the crowds
and had compassion on them
that wanted to be fed
We come together
to set the stage
to act as if it might be true
that we are loved
to love each other
to treat each other fairly
to see each other for who we really are
to allow others to see who we really are
with no shame and no fear
for we are all unequal
we are all disabled
we are all addicted
we are all dying
We come to pretend
that what we dream for tomorrow is true for today
that we live in a strange kingdom
where nobody is standard
nobody is predictable
nobody is average
nobody is unacceptable
nobody is judged
and nobody is judging themselves
where advertising does not standardise our dreams*
where our view is only filtered through God’s eyes
where instead of punishing each other for our own failings
we act with justice
love with mercy
and walk humbly with each other
and with our God
ADVENTurous is an exciting festival on dec 2 in london hosted by greenbelt at the wonderful union chapel. there is a day of thinking, artistry and imagining around the world we live in and the issues we face in the areas of faith, ecology and economy and how we get to a new world. the line up of speakers looks great - mike frost, ann morrisy, ruth valerio, ann pettifor, abdul rehman malik. then in the evening there is an evening of artistry with harry baker (!), iain archer and hope and social. tickets for the whole day if you book before the end of october are only £25 which seems like a pretty good deal.
en gedi arts are curating the visual arts for this and simultaneously exhibitions and events in leftbank leeds and the imperial hotel in colwyn bay. hope to see you there!
i really love this spontaneous eucharist kit created by molten meditation for greenbelt this year. there's an elaborate write up on it here and how robin and suzanne from two fairly different christian traditions created a way of doing something that was as respectful as possible whilst breaking communion out of it's box. here's how robin describes it
Sometimes it seems that the ritual of the bread and wine are hidden, are kept from people and guarded by the Priests and the church. My desire really is to give the Eucharist away...
...The concept we were trying to get across is that the bread and wine could have a greater significance for us in our daily lives if we took it out of the church. In any moment of celebration or where something needed healing you could bring out the box and share Communion with those around you - or with yourself. How beautiful could that be?
so they had the bread and wne blessed by an ordained priest and created little kits and gave them away - simple eh? you can download a kit here.
if you are in norfolk check out soulcircus that they are both involved in...
today was the first day of the new year on the cms pioneer mission leadership training. it's always so exciting to go round on the first morning and hear who people are and what they dream and aspire to pioneer in mission. some have already started, others have an idea, others just know they want to do something. this is our third year and i have loved both so far and i can tell i'm going to love this one. on top of what we have been doing we have an MA starting and our first intake of ordained pioneers which should keep us busy... i called this photo 'apsirational' - seemed to fit the mood...
where the streams come from is a series of 3 poem soundscapes from chris goan out this month on proost. i love chris' poetry. check out listing and ten thousand places if you have not come across them. proost interview chris here and he has this to say about poets
For me, poetry is a spiritual act. It involves dwelling on something in a deep and even prayerful way. The process of constructing words that carry as much honesty, emotion and truth as I am able to bring to bear is at times painful, but mostly is a precious thing. The poems I like most carve a new path into something. They are full of sinew and not afraid to express the dark things - the doubt as well as the faith, the pain as well as the joy, the lament as well as the celebration. Poems like this make me cry (in a good way.) The people who write this kind of poetry often carry damage in some way. We are members of the awkward squad, outsiders who look from a different perspective. Poetry becomes one of the ways that those of us who have been sensitised can apply our sensitivity- a kind of gift.
i have just got back from breakout, a national gathering of pioneers. i was invited to try and draw together reflections for the last session. this felt a little daunting! the previous day ann morrisy had been taking a couple of sessions. i had never heard her speak which is surprising but i have clearly missed out... anyway she was wonderful, a breath of fresh air, full of imagination and wisdom. as she spoke there were so many choice phrases that i wrote them down. in the final session the best way i could reflect on her words was simply to turn them back as a gift again to people as a blessing by putting the words may you in front of them (a couple of the lines came from other moments rather than things ann said). a few people asked for a copy so i am blogging it as a worship trick
may you get your timing right through prayerfulness
may you take the risk of bringing your broken self and not your sorted self so that the gospel can flow
may you take micro actions that become graced in the least predictable ways
may you resist the temptation towards a theology of answers
may you have many graced encounters where you build on the wisdom discovered by youthworkers in informal education
may you fill out the comma in the creed and break open the story of jesus life and the way he lived
in crisis and in celebration in your communities may god grant you the improvising craft of apt liturgy
may you remember to pause, not be reactive and reflect
may you foster poetry where lament and grief is always legitimate and tears flow
may the deep joy of the holy spirit make you an animateur of fun, play and laughter
may you remember to talk dirty about faith
may you accept the invitation to express venturesome love
may you see many chins pucker in the blade of the moment when jesus story co-incides with peoples story
in your punctured confidence and weakness may you stay vulnerable and alongside
may the holy spirit enliven your imagination such that you find the world magical, enchanted, breathtakingly wonder-ful
may you not be seduced by the tempter and always know that it is not not money that will bring the kingdom of god
may you find friendship with radicalised older women
may you develop the practices and gaze of soft eyes, compassionate responses and hospitality
may you take the risk of conversation that is two way
may you have the courage to unhitch the caravan
may you wholeheartedly embrace the ministry of awakening to traces of ultimacy and rumours of glory and be a midwife to 'god in the soul'
may you hold true to the task and call you have been given such that 'you don't half put it up em!
may you treasure and listen to the youngest
michael mitton led a pligrimage over august to ireland and wales which provoked a rush of poetry which is up on his web site here. they are poems inspired by celtic saints ciaran, brendan, brigid, kevin, brynach, non, illtyd. they are absolutley delightful and very moving. i know mark berry is going to love this poem/prayer on brendan!! i am making the collection a worship trick. makes me want to go on this pilgrimage...
Brendan was as mad as a bear with toothache
But it was a madness you loved
And you took hold of that old bear
And threw him out to sea
'Til he returned to land with such a wild tale
That even the priests laughed themselves silly.
The people danced in the surf of Bantry Bay
And a thousand coracles set sail
Into the bright breeze of your Spirit.
O Lord madden me by that same Spirit
Bring on the God-blessed flights of fancy
Inebriate me with Holy Ghost visions
And set me free to behold with the eyes of my heart
Great wonders on the high seas of God.
yes that's probably a true statement but it's also the latest album from the reverend jon birch! i don't know if you caught it earlier this year but jon released an album which took old southern usa gospel samples which are over 90 years old and so out of copyright and created tracks around them. well he enjoyed it so much he has now made two more albums. there is something about gospel music that has such a wide appeal and is joyful and uplifting. the characters he has found include the likes of blind lemon jefferson - what a great name! anyway all that is by way of saying that this world's in a hell of a fix and witness are both available on proost this month. if you are a subscriber you can download them as part of your subscription... enjoy!
we have four ReSource weekends lined up for 2012-2013. we've been running these for about 8 or 9 years now i think. i always love them. a brilliant way to learn about mission. they work best in my view if you do all four in a year...
bob carlton sent me a link a couple of weeks back to a new video from sigur ros. they have commissioned a series of films to go with the album valteri. this one tied in so perfectly with the wake up theme and service i outlined in the previous blog post i couldn't believe it! we showed this during the communion at the end of the service. i was so hoping that one of the people would open thier eyes towards the end and sure enough...
i had a complaint (yes really though it was said tongue in cheek!!) that not many worship tricks have been forthcoming on the blog. the honest truth (what other kind of truth is there i wonder?!) that the blog has had less of everything in the last two years because of one crazy maxed out life. but point taken and i will get my butt in gear and add any i come across. so here goes - worship trick 24 in series 4: digital prayers using visible tweets.
i have been at plenty of events where a twitter feed scrolls on a screen on the stage. it's fun and creates some level of interaction/commentary on what is going on. we've done this before now at grace which felt like it enabled people connected to grace but not physically present to participate which was brilliant. as i mentioned in the last post i was doing a few reflective/prayer slots at a conference last week focused on communication. one of the sessions was on social media so i tried to use that in the worship slots. one of the things i did was to get people to pray using a twitter hashcode. i am sure this has been done by many people in different ways so am not claiming any originality here. however i did a bit of scouting around to see what is around by way of showing a live feed on the screen. the problem very often with ones i have seen is that the tweets are very small and so quite hard to read from a distance unless there is a very large screen. but then i came across visibletweets. you don't even need to download it. it's a flash based website. type in a hashcode, a search term or someone's twitter id and then one tweet at a time fills the page and beautifully animates to the next. it's slow and feels meditative, just right for tweeted prayers or reflections. there is a button at the bottom corner to go full screen. it's clean, simple and very nicely done.
chris goan (whose blog is always so thoughtful...) reflects on the life of small missional groups after 7 years of the community aoradh in dunoon. he particularly highlights some of scott peck's reflections on groups. this includes the stages a group goes through and the characteristics of community. they are really worth a read if you are in any kind of small group, community or missional group. there is a lot there to chew over...
small missional groups are one of the growing edges in the church in the uk - often just tucked out of sight of those who like to count and measure numbers of attendance. if you've not seen it before ian adams ways in to small missional communities is a wonderful simple guide to the sort of process a group might go through.
i came across this blessing in gerard kelly's book church actually and was pleased to discover it is online on his spoken worship site here. i used it last night at an evening marling a moment of someone journeying on to something new. gerard's words are always wonderfully crafted... i am making it a worship trick (23 in series 4) seeing as i haven't added any for ages now!
May God, in whose furnace faith is forged; in whose being beauty breathes; at whose dawning darkness flees, shine on you.
May the Father, whose love for you beats with a rhythm time itself can’t stop; whose presence in your exile is the promise of home; whose certainties are deeper than the cellars of your city; whose breath is life, breathe on you.
May the son, whose story is a mirror of your own; who has journeyed into darkness to find a key to your prison; who has dived the deepest oceans to find pearls for your wisdom; who has looked into your heart and found a beauty worth the battle; who has written your name on a white stone carved in secret, hold you.
May the Spirit, who has waited millennia to fill you; who shaped the word that moved the wind of the morning that conceived you; who holds the earth on which you stand as an artist holds a candle; who fully knows you, wholly own you
So may God the faithful father, God the scarred son, God the sculpting spirit journey with you
[update: i also saw this blessing for leaders which i have used before had been put online by tom brackett]
here's a photo from grace at the weekend - i do love the labyrinth. such a simple thing in many ways. this time round the design we had was a bit more complex with turns on all four quadrants which i liked - made it a bit more confusing to know where you were!
i've been so busy i forgot to blog this news... mark berry is now working with cms as the community mission facilitator which is exciting. cms has been a religious community for a couple of years now and it will be mark who helps us work out what that means, how to live it out and fuel a life of mission. he is creative, a pioneer, loves community, and is definitely someone who is future facing. he was always a really good blogger - i often linked to posts of his so it's good to see he has decided to re-emerge in the blogosphere
he's still in telford, and the community safespace will keep going and no doubt shift its pattern of leadership somewhat
yesterday in the post a big box arrived - inside were three different editions of the brand spanking new extraordinary version of the bible called the way. it is a bible which is interspersed with black and whte photographs, laments, and stories. the translation is the new living translation. mark oestreicher is the person who has edited and carried the vision to do a contemporary version of the 1970s bible of the same name. it really looks fabulous. the laments and stories give it a real gritty honest tone. i can't quite believe how good it is...
i am one of the photographers who has contributed (around 50 photographs). i am finding it quite weird (in a really good exciting way) to see my photos in the bible like this. a self portrait has been used as the inside cover image which will take some getting used to and a photo of jen and harry opens up the new testament.
i got involved through knowing marko (we've been friends for years) but he invited me having seen my photos on the blog. the weird world of blogging strikes again. i am very happy to be involved in this project. i think people are going to love it. it's aimed at young(ish) adults. get any you know a copy. it's a tyndale bible.