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Category Archives: Change

Journey 9 Day 8: Lament and Celebration

Having begun my Journey of celebration it feels that events of the past week have made it at times quite difficult to celebrate. The events in the Middle East and the outcome of the Women Bishop’s vote in the Church of England General Synod are but two examples.

Lament is a motif and way of being that is profoundly biblical. I have again been drawn to Walter Bruggemann’s Spirituality of the Psalms. And the Thread of Orientation, Disorientation and Reorientation.

I am thankful to say that in the midst of this Lament and difficulty I have been able to find a way to celebrate with legitimacy and integrity.

On Monday I was at LICC celebrating their 30th Anniversary. I am very thankful for the vision and work of LICC. They have played a significant role in my life, discipleship and growing faith. They have really highlighted the importance of whole life discipleship and the brilliant and releasing truth that all of life, all vocations, all moments are part of who we are and how we can live out our Christian faith.

Yesterday I was at HTB at the Fresh Expressions conference ‘ Following the Missionary Spirit‘. After the events of the Synod Vote it was so good and so encouraging to be able to look at this movement of the church and see its positive impact. Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke profoundly about the importance of the Church being challenged and renewed by the margins, the edges and the bold risk takers and prophets who are prepared to step out, ask questions, pioneer and think outside the box. He spoke brilliantly, honestly and with real clarity about the importance of reimagining church.

Bishop Graham Cray also gave this excellent talk on the reasons to be thankful and also to be hopeful going forward.

It was then great to move from this event to Thanksgiving last night and celebrate and be thankful with a great group of friends.

I am therefore celebrating that even in the midst of some real challenges and lament, there is a place, a needed place, for good and genuine celebration! May the Journey continue.

 

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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Change, Food, Generosity, Humility

 

Journey 8 Day 34: Follow Friday

Twitter users will know that on Friday’s there is a thing called ‘Follow Friday’ known as #FF

This Friday in the spirit of hospitality I wanted to share some sites/links/good stuff that I have been finding helpful as I have been taking these journeys and just doing life in general as a disciple and human being.

I do this in humility, knowing that others have loads more to offer and share but also in a spirit of community and sharing and recognising we are better and stronger together when we resource and encourage, challenge and inspire each other.

Talks:

Greenbelt Talks (Loads of great talks, lots of free ones as well from previous years)

Rob Bell: The Two Kinds of New (Just a great talk and so helpful in so many ways)

Pete Rollins: Being Human (From Mars Hill Bible Church, October 2012)

Tom Wright: Forgotten Message of the Gospels

Podcasts:

Nomad Podcast (Great range of interviews exploring community and new forms of church)

Websites:

Breathe Network A Christian network for simpler living.

The School of Life The School of Life is a new enterprise offering good ideas for everyday life.

Rhythms Great ‘Village’ website with articles and amazing interactive space for action!

Blogs: (Where do you begin! So many, so here are just a few)

Jonny Baker Another World is Possible

A New Name Emma Scrivener

A Servant’s Life Frank Ritchie

The Good Stuff Jenny Flannagan

David Westlake What on earth is God doing and how do I join in

Rachel Held Evans asking big questions about faith, doubt, culture, gender and the Church.

 

Journey 8 Day 8: Hospitality, An uncomfortable truth? An Opportunity!!

A year ago St Paul’s Cathedral welcomed/allowed/accepted a group of protestors known as Occupy to reside on its front steps/area after it failed to access its target of the London Stock Exchange. What followed was an incredible drama, but also arguably a wasted opportunity for the church or an exposing of the complexities of the church (at least some of it) being seen as an institution with links to aspects of the establishment and ruling (financial) elite.

The truth is almost certainly more complex than this and its not as if the church is really idle on this. So many churches and Christian groups are actively bringing hope and healing to very broken lives and situations and with real compassion and integrity.

These 3 excellent, provocative and challenging (all in that order in my opinion) go to highlight the challenges and questions that this whole story raise not only for the church but also for society.

What kind of people, church and society are we and what do we want to be, what can we be?

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2012/12-october/features/features/still-preoccupied-by-occupy

The next steps in this ongoing drama will be interesting. But they also need to be restorative and hopeful. I think that much of what the church does to genuinely tackle poverty, injustice and to bring benefit to society is often lost or not heard or held with a degree of suspicion. That to me is sad as I do not think it to be the case.
The church at large is at work in so many ways to tackle injustice and poverty and bring genuine hope to the millions of people that are impacted by the reality of brokenness in Britain. The Church is bringing hope and is on a journey of rediscovering and recovering its servant, prophetic, engaged and compassionate edge and character. It is alive and is not the stereotype its is made out to be so often.
These films and many other examples show and speak of a church that is alive and is willing and able to bring hope and healing.
 

Journey 5 Day 29 – (In) Dependency

My name is Matt and I am a consumer. This was my open declaration on my simplicity journey. It was a liberating moment, to be honest about just how much I love consuming and how wedded I am to the ways of consuming.But also of my desire to seek to take some steps to transform my consumerism. To be both liberated to enjoy what God has given me but also limited to enable good choices that will also help and bless others.

My name is Matt and I am a Consumer. I love the comfort and fulfilment that many of things I consume give me. I love to consume music, books, magazines and perhaps most of all great food and drink. I am aware that ultimately some of these things won’t bring me ultimate meaning and fulfilment, but I don’t think I could live without them either. I want a more simple and fulfilled life but am frankly scared of what that could mean and look like. I am not seeking to be a holy hermit who withdraws from life and consumption, I want to be real and engaged in the reality of living in 21st century society, but I want to spend and consume more responsibly, wisely and with greater generosity. I’m on a journey, I will stumble, get lost and over consume, but I won’t give in and just give up.

Well now I must add this. My name is Matt and I love and cherish being free, independent, in control and don’t like very much asking for help! There I’ve said it. Its out there and its the truth. Having injured my Achilles Tendon 10 days ago my rhythm and pattern of life has had to change. Some of the freedoms and independent ways have had to be put in check and I’ve had to ask, receive, get help and be far more dependent, which has been far harder than I thought it would be or how it should be.

“Independence is the bullshit of university”. Its a quote I will always remember from an Israeli mountain rescue worker who arrived to help us find our friend who had gone off for a walk in the hills and terrain of South Israel near the Egyptian Border. That friend ended up being arrested and taken into captivity. Extreme measures. I’m certainly not advocating against taking walks independently. But the experience was a reminder that we need to recognise our limits and the need to listen to others and to God at times recognising our limits.

Freedom, Independence and all that jazz is amazing. Freedom of speech, Freedom to vote, The free press and much more besides. The vital lifeblood of democracy. However have we, Have I become so used to it that I don’t need to grasp more fully what it also means to be dependent, to entrust myself to others and to God? Are we not better together in community, relationship, family and being able to be really open and reliant on others as well as people being reliant upon us?

These verses from Proverbs were given to me on my Baptism 20 years ago and seem so relevant for me right now. I’m not going to take them literally, esp v8! But the idea of trust, dependence and leaning not purely on my own ways and understanding seem sage and key advice for me to put into practice!

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; 
 fear the Lord and shun evil. 
This will bring health to your body 
 and nourishment to your bones.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Change, contemplation, Journey 5

 

Journey 4 – Day 30 – Giving, Forgiving and Receiving

Miroslav Volf continues to challenge me and inspire me through his amazing book ‘Free of Charge’. In the section I have been reading this week he talks a lot about the importance of giving having first understood and received the goodness, love and nature of God. God is the utterly loving giver. God does not just love, He is love! Ephesians 5: 1-2 encourages us to be imitators of God. In one sense that’s so hard as we are not and never can or will be God. But he has made us in his image (Gen 1:26-28, Psalm 139) and we can

1) Give when we delight in someone

2) Give to others when they are in need

3) Give to help others give

(Volf, Free of Charge p68-69)

I was also reminded afresh yesterday of the importance of receiving as well as giving. I took some time out to meet up with a friend who is involved in running an urban retreat centre and who has a vast wealth of knowledge and experience in the art of contemplative prayer, reflection and meditation and practising the art of retreat.

I was hosted so well and treated to a really warm, rich and helpful conversation. I did it to help me think and prepare for my next themed journey on Contemplation which starts on the 9th June. I got to spend some time in the retreat centre after our conversation and was really struck by the theme of being rooted.

Rooted in Love, Rooted in Christ and Rooted in Community, Family and relationships and from that rooting  comes the outflow of action, but the action can only be legitimate and have deep rooted integrity because of its rooting and the origins first of internal transformation leading to an external, outworked transformation.

I am thankful for the challenges and blessings of the day and resolve to both give and receive to and from others and also from God in his Love, goodness and mercy.

 

Journey 3 Day 22 – Childlike Maturity Pt 2

There is seemingly a great debate/crisis in much of the church today about how we best engage, nurture and relate well to Children. Just as we must take great encouragement in fresh and emerging expressions of church, so we must also take a lot of encouragement about another pioneering form of church known as Messy Church.

Whilst I am not advocating the concept of Messy Church as being the complete saviour for how the church can or perhaps should be, I nonetheless love its name, its sense of creativity and seeking to offer a form of church that is meaningful, engaging and relevant. My wife and my children love it for so many reasons, which is just brilliant.

Its interesting then that Stephen Cherry argues that “The litmus test of a church is not the presence or even absence of children, but the kind of maturity that the adults show; If that maturity is based on status and importance, on power and position, prestige and privilege, then it is only a quasi maturity. For it is Adults with true, Christian, childlike maturity among whom young children feel relaxed, at home and welcome.” If we get this right then more naturally rather than by forcing things will be perhaps get to a stage of enabling children to feel a greater part of church and community life. However I do believe that in addition to this a good and engaging programme (like Messy Church) is also key.

The second half of the Chapter refers to the Sabbatical that Stephen Cherry took in South Africa. He tells the Story of Amos and Martha who opened their home to people (in addition to their nine children and eight grandchildren) and set up a ‘Shanty Church’ in the community where they lived. Cherry refers to the incredible generosity and hospitality that he is shown and how that extends to the community in terms of the meals they provide, the relationships they build, the sense of providing a safe place. Story after story emerges of prayer, humility, service and sacrifice, done with great integrity and humility. He also refers to the church service he was a part of at the ‘shanty church’. There was a sense of deep freedom, gratitude and hunger for God in the people that we so often rarely get to see. He called this ‘The sound of passionate humility’. Childlike, mature, passionate and humble. What a great combination! I want to be a person who seeks to be more like each of these four qualities. God, Give me the Grace and the patience to embrace this in life’s great adventure. 

The story humbly reminded me of the privilege I have had of travelling with Tearfund. To be welcomed into people’s homes in Kenya, India, Russia and Malawi, to worship in churches in each of those countries and to each time be struck at the sheer quality and richness of their trust, openness, hospitality and humble, servant hearted actions that have and are leading to hope, transformation and deep impact in the midst of many challenges.

This leads me on very aptly to my next step in this challenging journey…… Giving up Grumbling! Its the title of the next chapter and a Lenten Challenge that Stephen Cherry gave himself. Earlier in Lent I took up Mark Powley’s challenge of only praying prayers of thanks for a week (I managed just one day!). So from tomorrow I am going to take up the challenge of doing life without complaining or grumbling for a week!

It will be a challenge but will be a good preparation also for my next journey which starts at the end of April on Generosity.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Change, Humility, Journey 3, Passion, Play, theology

 

Journey 3 Day 8 – Learning to walk Pt 1

One of the many joys and ‘landmark’ moments of being a parent is when your child is learning to walk and makes the transition and takes those first few steps! Its an amazing and profound moment. Having celebrated and had that ‘wow’ moment I remember reflecting on the struggle and the process of this great feat. There were certainly many attempts and many failures before success, but they did not give up despite the setbacks. They got up and tried again. A profound lesson in persistence, keeping going and therefore I guess humility.

I’m so aware as an Adult of how much harder it can be to try things, especially after a number or series of failed attempts and how this ‘failure’ can knock confidence and character. When does this attitude in us change? Why does it change? Its

“Humility is the virtue that allows people to take the risks and survive the humiliation. This is also integral to the task of learning discipleship” Stephen Cherry.

Having explored the idea of walking good in my last blog, I feel that I need to learn to walk again. To embrace greater risk and willingness to make mistakes along the way and learn more openly.

Exploring the concept of pilgrimage and walking barefoot, Stephen Cherry states ” I want to suggest Barefoot discipleship as a metaphor for passionate humility, a Christlike attitude that is down to earth, full of life, vulnerable and transformational”

I want to learn to walk again and walk good. To be willing to take risks, seek adventure and be willing to make mistakes, explore and discover and if I ‘Fail’ to have the grace and perspective to get up, laugh, dust myself down.learn and try again!

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Change, Journey 3