Sunday, July 30, 2006

 

Important Message from the Bishop of Jerusalem & the Middle East



The Anglican Bishop for Jerusalem & the Middle East, has made an appeal to Christians as he and the Christians in the affected area of Palestine & Lebanon seek to bring medical assistance. He also asks for political lobbying of the British Government and the Government of the United States. Please do read.

Friday, July 28, 2006

 

My T-Shirt


This is my t-shirt after a week of plumbing. The t-shirt is normally all black. The white marks are the salt from my sweat.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

 

Margate Exodus

'The Margate Exodus tells a story of identity and migration, of people crossing borders in search of a ‘Promised Land’. It re-imagines the second book of the Old Testament and sets it in contemporary Margate with the residents playing all the roles in a series of promenade events throughout the town on Saturday 30 September.'

 

Congrats to Clare Catford

It was a privilege to go to the Barbican Centre yesterday to see Clare graduate from her theology course. She now goes on to do an MA in another part of the University of London. This is a major achievement for Clare given the pressures on her in the last couple of years, so well done Clare. So next year not only does Clare do more study but is bringing out an important book too.

The graduation gave me room to reflect on what an incredible mix of skills, knowledge and experiences exist in our little Moot community, and how immensely proud I am of it and what people are doing. Thanks for the privilege of being part of it!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

 

Lectio Divina

In everything I read at the minute (Admittedly a lot of it is monastic literature) I keep coming across Lectio Divina . Lectio Divina is the holy reading at the heart of most monastic communities . I found the description on the link below very helpful though I had to stop myself from doing my usual speed reading of things and actually take the time to enjoy it .

blessings

Mark

http://www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html

Monday, July 24, 2006

 

Enough said really...


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

 

Moot Weekend Away 6-8th October in Arundel

Moot et al, we iz going a way in early october. For more info and form booking places see attached forms. If you need more information contact james fraser in the community.


Arundelinvite.doc.pdf

Arundelinvite.doc

 

Moot Labyrinth Service 30th July

Change in programme: Labyrinth Service 30th July, STMW 6.30 for 7pm
Two-weeks saturday, moot is hosting a labyrinth service drawing on the elements of our developing rhythm of life. Additionally, the event is going to be filmed by the BBC with interviews of some of those who are partaking. We really need support on this one guys, so please do come and support us......

Any info, please contact Ian

Saturday, July 15, 2006

 

In the City

Image by Fabrice Fouillet


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

Reflections with Matt & Jim from Home Oxford



On Tuesday (11th July) Matt & Jim from Home in Oxford came to share their experiences with Moot about how they developed their rhythm of life. I summarise the discussion and the differences with Moot so far.

1. their rhythm reflects values as a reinterpretation of the Benedictine rule of poverty chastity and obedience. I will post up exactly what these are later - as Matt is going to email me them.

2. On top of this, they also have some vows - which eight out of the community have vowed in a service to the Bishop to keep. They now have a once a year service for this with the Bishop on Holy Saturday in Easter week. These vows are very practical that include prayer and scripture reading amongst them. Not all the community have taken the step to take these vows.

3. outside of their rhythm and vows they also have values - that say something about what is distinctive about Home in Oxford.

4. They described the vows service - which includes renewal of baptism vows so that it could include the wider community. They use Lent as a preparation time in a lead up time to the vows service for spiritual development and preparation.

There was further stuff on how they organise those who have taken vows, but for me this was less important than the content and reason for why they were doing what thet were doing - and raised issues of governance and the church for me.

Gareth, who chaired the meeting rightly has called those Mooters who attended to go away and reflect on what they had heard and consider the implications for Moot at our next rhythm evening. I therefore will not add my reflections here and save them for later. Carey and Phillipa took notes, so have lists of the actual vows and actual rhythm. The only thing I would say, is that I think the rhythm has to be quite contextual and Home's reflects that people do not live that far from each other and therefore less dispersed thsn Moot. So there are therefore good and less good things for Moot to learn from Home.

I will post Matt's notes on their rhythm and vows once I receive them.

 

Prayer Antenna


A bizarre gizmo from Paul Davies is probing prayer. A helmet with antenna is fixed to a wall. The antenna receive sounds from the gallery space and channel these inside the helmet. Artists blurb here.

'The interactivity is the simple act of kneeling and putting your head into the helmet. What you hear is other people (what is god if not other people?)'

I dismissed this piece quite quickly when I first saw it on
WMMNA this morning but it's been bugging me all day. Prayer never seems an easy thing to do at the best of times but this piece did get me thinking about a few things. Initially I guess I didn't like the way it reduced God to 'other people' and ignored prayer as a more direct form of encounter with God. A trail of thoughts then ensued:

Other people shape our understanding of God. This could be from friends and family but equally it could be from authors. artists or communities of people (churches?) who have carried a faith that we have then inherited. These voices all mould and circumscribe our understanding of God. They define God to a certain extent. How much then are we listening to God and how much are we listening to the perceptions of God that we have inherited from the voices of others? Our inheritance might help us connect with God but will also limit our understanding of God. Are all these voices helping us to hear God or just getting in the way of listening, are they noise? There's also something going on in the contrast between ritual and technology: The ritual action inherent in the piece removes you from a (gallery) space and immerses you in technological apparatus that re-focusses your attention on the sounds and expressions of those you're still physically sharing a space with. Prayer becomes about removing yourself from a situation to try and listen to it. (Albeit assisted by apparatus that is somewhere between a B-movie science experiment, the SETI programme and an old folks hair parlour.)

It's amazing how much an old crash helmet and a bunch of radio antenna can bug me.

Monday, July 10, 2006

 

EXPOSÉ: Greenbelts True Direction


Someone sent me some insider pictures of the recent Greenbelt get-together at Iona. As you can see ex-vaux members have infiltrated every level of Greenbelt. The insider who took these shots reports that Greenbelt is seeking to reposition itself not as a Christian arts festival but rather as a vehicle to relaunch Graham Kendricks vast back catalogue.

Apparently Kester et al seem to think that only these songs capture the true nature of the complex Christ. And that they provide the fullest theological exposition of a truly urban faith.

Although this move should obviously be opposed at every level it is good to see that beer is still a feature of genuine renewal and worship - even if it is a crap Aussie brand.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

 

The Box

This is a meditation I wrote for this evening's moot service on doubt:

It used to be that there was an answer for everything. It was simple. I believed x, y, and z, and as I went about my business, the world would prove to me that God exists, and that x,y and z were not in fact a, b, and c.

My mind is a big cupboard. And in that cupboard, there are lots of shelves. However on the highest of the shelves there’s a box. It’s a fairly new looking box. I bought it quite recently. And on the front of it, in black felt marker pen, I’ve written the words “to deal with later”. Right now, that box is overflowing. I can’t get the lid on any more. In fact stuff is pouring out and threatening to engulf the rest of the cupboard. I can’t find anything. You see, it’s fine to have a box marked “to deal with later”, but I didn’t deal with it later.

So now, what do I do with this box? My first option seemed like the easiest and the best. I can throw it away and everything in it. Every time something new comes along that I can’t deal with, everything that threatens my certainties can go straight in the bin. All those annoying conversation with atheists. All the questions I want to ask about why God does this, and why Christians do that. All the times that I’ve said something to someone else that I believed in with all my heart, only to watch them crumple under the weight of my expectations. They can all go in the bin, and the nice men from the local council will take them away every Tuesday. And the liberals. They can go in Room 101. That way, life goes on as if nothing has changed. In the words of The Matrix: “Take the blue pill and I can wake up in my bed the next morning with no memory, as if nothing has happened and life can carry on as before.”

Or I can take the other option.

The other option is to get a stepladder, get up to the box and get it down off the shelf. I can then sit on the floor, with my legs crossed, and go through the box, item by item, and, with the help of a lot of prayer work out how to deal with all those things one by one, one piece at a time. When I get stuck, I can go and look for a fellow traveller who has similar questions, and ask them if they will sit with me, pray with me, and hold my hand as I go through the box and help me work out what to do with those things.

And when I get to the end of sifting through the questions, or if I get too tired, or too upset, or I might find that actually there’s still some things that I can’t deal with, I can put them back in the box, the box can go back on the shelf and I can return to them when I have regained my strength.

Because in that box are all my questions about life, all the odd things that God has done that don’t make sense, all those experiences that I have had that Christians might frown at, all the beliefs that bent and broke before their guarantee expired, all the questions that have been put to me by well intentioned people who by their very questioning have made a deep part of me feel lost. The idea that God may not exist. The idea that God might exist. In fact all the things that by their very nature make life brighter, more beautiful, more hopeful, more real. And that’s just for starters.

 

Strange dreams...

Last night I had a strange dream. As with all dreams, in the light of day, all that remains is fragments and glimpses in my mind's eye. I remember coloured lights, a vertical metal pole, sequinned cowboy hats and, at the centre of it all, I see Trine...
But there are other images that come back to me from my dream ... there's Ian dancing - and I can hear "Hit me baby one more time".... I see James with his hands waving in the air...mark and gareth sitting at a table...phillipa dancing - but with a bemused look on her face...along with these images are a strange mixture of sounds - MC Hammer, Bonnie Tyler, S Club, Bros.

It all seemed so real, but when I think about it all - I realise it can't have been, it must have been a dream...surely?

Friday, July 07, 2006

 

Monastic Exchange

Confessions of an absent Mobster

I have just returned to the outside world by recharging my batteries with a two-day retreat in St Michael’s convent in Ham. It was full of silence, spiritual direction, Ignatian meditation, soul searching, garden walking, nuns-food-eating and the daily offices.

The convent was a deeply spiritual place. There was a real wisdom in the eyes and faces of the nuns who I felt I got to know even though they and I were in silence for the entire time we met except for worship services. The garden was mystical and I could breathe fresh air.

Before I got here I knew I was feeling deep spiritual pain and exhaustion. God felt very distant in my own life but very real in my work with Moot in the lives of others, so I came to the convent to face my pain and to try and reconnect to a God that felt very absent in my own personal life.

I met with Sister Cathy on both days – a very wise spiritual director who guided and helped me to face my pain and seek Christ in it. She helped by suggesting I engage in Ignatian meditation of the Emmaus Road and the Garden of Gethsemane. She was incredibly loving and gracious as I expressed my frustration to her of my singleness and the sense of not feeling God’s love in my personal life for sometime.

So I faced the pain, I projectively walked round the circular garden half my first day, in tears in feelings of claustrophobia and anger, and after what felt like an exhausting time God came to me, with a sense of love and care that stopped me in my tracks, I sensed God's presence in my pain. I could not be cynical with it – I stopped feeling numb and angry and just wept – as I felt Christ hold me, touch me, love me like I have not felt for a long time. In the many services in the chapel - I felt this love, in the prayers I sensed God’s love and I felt a peace I have not felt for a while about me.

In a meditation on the Emmaus road, I met Jesus and had two experiences. One of total affirmation that Jesus loved me for who I was, and that unlike my own father who walked out when I was 10, I need not feel unworthy as a person or insecure (that goes deep) about relationships or the love of God. This Christ was enoying our encounter - that I brought pleasure to the divine.

The second, and one that is more painful is what the nun called ‘a hollowing out time of darkness’, in the sense that in the meditation I repeatedly asked Jesus about my future – and all there was, was a definite silence. Yes I feel affirmed in my relationship to and with Christ, but no sense of what God thinks of my desire for a partner and to share intimate love with. This remains painful. I won’t go into it anymore – needless to say – I am going to be going back to these Ignatian meditations to seek God for my future on top of my sense of the Love of God for who I am and what I am doing.

I have come back re:membering who I am, and that I am loved by God, with two important things going on for me. I will be returning to this special place in the future.
All this for £34 daily spiritual direction, food and stay included. I can strongly recommend these 24-hour retreats – it has been a lifesaver for me.

I really don’t understand how people with out spiritual direction and breaks like this keep going in life…… If you are one of those – take a plunge – it is worth it.

I will be using some of my experiences for the big service. I think people will be relieved to hear that the real Ian will be returning.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

What does it all mean ...


Wish I knew, but no, I have no idea what it all means. What does that question mean anyway, it usually is given by a person who is trying to find meaning out of life, and it is usually followed by sappy music, a meadow, and two people running towards each other. I guess what they are getting at is that it love is the meaning of everything, or at least the trajectory of where everything is going. I have an hour before I take off for the tube and make my fifteen hour journey home, to see my wife, and the fetus pushing on the interior of her womb. A question comes after thinking about my wife and how much I miss her, that question being what is love? Am I just attached ... and all the question that go with that. What is love? (By the way that is her pictured below, She is the second from the left on the top row, she looks really young in the picture, I sware she is not twelve. It is nice to be able to find her on the Internet).In my few off hours I watched a couple of movies that I borrowed from Rosie who lives down the road. I watched the Notebook, and The Prince of Tides two very different takes on love.

So, I am bringing this up because I have to give these back on my way out the door, and I remembered that they had a profound effect on me. Not because they were particularly good movies, although I did like the Prince of Tides for subjective reasons, but because they gave two images of love that seem to pulse through our culure at the moment. The Notebook is a powerful story but unfortunately the acting takes away from the brilliant idea for the movie. Not to ruin it, but it is about a man who reads a notebook to his wife who is suffering from dementia, and cannot remember him. The story then brings her out of her dementia for just a moment, and they have dinner and then she forgets because he does not take her back to the life that they used to live. They end up dying together in the end giving an image that we all want to have, to live together completely devoted to one another without any temptation from the outside world.

If the Notebook gives us an image of pure devotion, Prince of Tides gives us an image of accountability, and commitment. Yet it is not the commitment in the sense of the couple desperately in love with one another, but two people struggling with whether they love one another, both having affairs and then both returning to the other deciding to care for one another. The interesting part of the Prince of Tides is that the main character has to re-live a traumatic moment in his life to give sense to his family of origin, and the family that he is about to leave. You see his reason for distancing himself, and desiring to run away is because of the trauma in his life that keeps him from feeling anything anymore. So love in this case is a decision to be with someone in the midst of pain and longing for another person.

The dichotomy between feeling, and decision seems to be two camps within the American Cinema. This battle seems to distance people from the journey metaphor that can be given to life. We long for static feelings, which is an oxymoron of course. Feelings are fluid but we fight against their fluidity, struggling to hold onto a moment that will pass. The struggle is living with time, a time that changes things, that causes us to fight for what we love, because it seems that there is something in the world that wants us to leave everything behind in search of the next great ecstatic moment.

I guess that is what this trip has been for me, a struggle with time. There have been moments of pain, lonliness, joy, sorrow, frustration, massive anxiety, and everything other emotion that I can't think of right now. I have seen the faces of every person from my home in the different faces of all of you Mooters, and St. Matties. There are so many similiarities to home and here, and I think that is why I have fallen in love with all of you. I find that in the ecstasy of the last six weeks (meaning life outside of stasis, or outside of the static life) I have tried to create in someways comfortable patches of home here, and when I have not been able to, I felt anxiety and frustration (like this guy below). I think that is part of how we deal with life, we create the comfortable places as an escape from the struggles of uncomfortable life. And when it does not work out well we might take a machine gun to the world we have created and try and destroy everything around us, (ok, I know I just wanted to use the Scarface image).

Even with all of that excitement I am going to miss you all terribly. I have found a real home here, and I hope to keep these friendships for life. You are all welcome to Seattle at any moment, and I know COTA will welcome a visit from its sister church. This was an enormous growing experience for me, I have never felt more like a priest than when I was here. I think in someways MOOT and St. Matt's did an amazing job of pruning and weeding, so I could grow with leaps and bounds. You are in my being now, because you helped me understand who I am. I will always be grateful for that.

Your Brother in Christ,
Travis K Smith

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

 

Moot @ Greenbelt Festival 2006



Good to see that moot is listed under the worship events this year, see link

Monday, July 03, 2006

 

101 uses for a Baptismal Candle

A big Thank You to everyone who came to Ivy's Christening yesterday, and especially to those who helped out in various ways. (Special mentions to Gareth & Phillipa, Trine and, of course, Ian).

We had a lovely day, and I'm sure that if Ivy wasn't pretty much oblivious to what was going on, she'd say she had a good time too!

We seem to have more of the prayers written in children's handwriting than there were children at the service - so come on, admit it, which ones of you wrote fake kiddies handwriting so that you could get away with writing something silly?!

We still haven't figured out how to raise an "emergent child", we're going to take it one step at a time, but we feel that yesterday was an important first step along the way.

Also, not being familiar with Anglican tradition - what do you do with a Baptismal Candle? We guess it's important somehow, but any suggestions would be gratefully received - maybe we can get 101 uses for a Baptismal Candle!

 

Thanks Travis Smith, Priest from over the pond & Moot Friend

MISSIONER EXCHANGE RE-EVALUATED
In the last 6 weeks, Travis has accompanied Moot and has immersed himself in our community, and has journeyed with us through the highs, some of the lows and in the doing of our little fresh expression of church. Speaking for myself, this 'missioner exchange programme' not only helps moot and I to reevaluate what we do and why, but has brought immense blessing with a different perspective. Travis has brought me personal and incredible encouragement, wisdom and advice - which has been invaluable not only for helping me with my involvement with Moot, but also my own spiritual journey. We have laughed, cried, argued, explored, shared and affirmed much in this brief snappet of time.

So I will miss Travis when he returns to COTA our Sister Church accross the pond, and hope to draw something of the things I have learnt into my life and practice as a Missioner & Priest. Thanks Travis.... we may never agree about the balance between church and state ---- but that is ok.... Thanks for all that you have done!! I know from what Travis has said that he has gained as much as we have from this missioner exchange.

 

Light

Some extracts from T.S. Eliot's Choruses from ‘The Rock’, 1934, used in last nights little service led by Lisa and Travis:

O Light Invisible, we praise Thee!
Too bright for mortal vision.
O Greater Light, we praise Thee for the less;
The eastern light our spires touch at morning,
The light that slants upon our western doors at evening,
The twilight over stagnant pools at batflight,
Moon light and star light, owl and moth light,
Glow-worm glowlight on a grassblade.
O Light invisible, we worship Thee!

We thank Thee for the lights that we have kindled,
The light of altar and of sanctuary;
Small lights of those who meditate at midnight
And lights directed through the coloured panes of windows
And light reflected from the polished stone,
The gilded carven wood, the coloured fresco.
Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward
And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.
We see the light but see not whence it comes.
O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee!

…we must extinguish the candle, put out the light and relight it;
Forever must quench, forever relight the flame.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

 

Andy Schofield in Palestine

Message from Andy....

Dear All, Mooters and a few non-Mooters,
Apologies for the blanket email. You're on this list because I care about you and wanted to let you know what I'm up to and why I won't be around for a few weeks.

From the 1 - 15 July I will be in Israel/Palestine. I'm going as part of a team of 6 with the Church Mission Society. Whilst there, we will be doing a mixture of youth work, peacemaking and visiting community projects.

If you're of a praying disposition, support in that line would be much appreciated.
For more info, take a look at our blog. If I get a chance, we will update it during our trip.
Thanks and God bless,
Andy x

I am however a little concerned about the context of the working relationship - Andy you have some explaining to do!!! See photo below.

sufferingforchrist.jpg

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