Co:missioning prayer In the name of the divine and mysterious Trinity, You have called us into being through love. You have joined us to one another in love. You have placed us in your world to love.
Grant each one of us the strength To carry your blessing from this place to the next. May we be at home in any land and in any place in between, for all the cosmos is yours. May we, with our hopes set on your shalom in the world, live also as aliens in all lands.
May the rhythms of your creation be the heartbeat which sustains our very life. May the lamp of your word guide our feet on the unsure paths of each day. May your breathing be the winds which lead us across strange new oceans.
Our lives are but a breath, But our breaths are drawn, from your divine Spirit. You have created us, peregrinate, traveling paradoxes, holy wanderers. Specs of dust and divine-image bearers. Shadows of your creativity, and crucibles of the spark of innovation. We are constantly restless until we rest in you.
Grant each one of us and our community a deeper fullness of being and spirit, May our faces be fuller in glory and joy, Now bearing new shape, as our faces transform and supplement one another. May that transformation bring peace, joy and love in the world in which you have placed us.
Go in the name of the Spirit who moves across the surface the waters, and in the beating of the human heart, Go in the name of Jesus, the God-Man who died, rose and lives on for us, Go in the name of the Creator and re-Creator, the mother of grace. Amen
I dreamed about "priesthood" last night... probably a hangover from a conversation with the Pioneer Ministry students yesterday (and a FB chat with a friend who shall remain nameless - unless he chooses to name himself in the comments)... however it was a really interesting dream - very cinematic - about a Priest who became homeless and by default became a Priest (because that was who he was) amongst the homeless, despite being a drinker (as a result of trauma) and having all the pain of lost family and friends, and the hopelessness of being caught in the trap of street living... it raised a couple of thoughts for me as I lay in bed taking it all in... 1) do we really understand the seriousness of the incarnation, that it was/is no game (a la Pulp's song "common people"), a pastiche of the life of those served with an easy escape? I guess incarnation is dangerous, a giving up of other options... 2) is it possible to choose were one's nature/calling as a Priest is enacted? Or is it simply about being where life places us, amongst the everyday people as an everyday person... in the words of Sly and the Family Stone...
I am no better and neither are you
We're all the same whatever we do
You love me you hate me
You know me and then
You can't figure out the bag I'm in
I am everyday people
...to be a Priest is to be Priestly in the midst of life, of everyday people, surely it's not taking someone out of that life and training them to be/do something other but naming their living for others with others? Priesthood is incarnational, sacramental and sacrificial precisely because it doesn't remove people from context... because it recognises and names them in place... because it is real living, not an aspiration or career path... because it demands a giving up of wanting to escape or move up the mythical ladder!
Ben Edson asks some questions of New-Monasticism in advance of the book launch tomorrow...
1: One comment that Martyn Percy made was that an 'an abbot' is a title rich in heritage and monasticism as a concept is one that has deep, deep roots. Does our contemporary re-imagination of the monastic tradition violate the heritage from which it comes? Is it too pop...
2: Is there something slightly sanctimonious about the new monasticism conversation? Is it the bitter pill that Christians think that culture needs to swallow to make it better? Is there a genuine desire to swallow the pill and is this desire matched action?
3: Is it offering a countercultural model of community? And if so is the best model to engage with society?
4: Does it bring people to faith? Does it engage with the non-churched?
I left the following (partial) response...
Interesting Q's Ben, though I do wonder if they are still infused with a somewhat modernist (and Evangelical ;-) ) language of evaluation - "best", "better" etc. but not much about authenticity, integrity, etc.? I'm not sure it's about being the "best" or even being a "model" but about finding ways of community and spirituality that resource and sustain a 24/7 way of living faith - so rather than seeking the "best model to engage" we simply do what we find sustains that missional and spiritual engagement and as a bonus we may find that for many who have lost the tools for being community it offers a window on a fuller way of living. I guess one could say that rather than being a "model" it could be an Icon of the God who is by nature community... also I wonder if rather than being a replacement (or solution for the ills of) the Church it could be, as Monasticism has always been the left hand to the ecclesiastical right hand of the faith? Did in the modern world we lose our connection with the monastic and seek to replace it with the Para-Church (YFC, SU, etc. even CMS!) and as that part of Christendom is in decline are we simply re-exploring what was for centuries has been part of what we know as Christianity?
I asked your 1st question to Abbots Sam (Hillfield) and Stuart (Mucknel) recently and the answer they gave was that unlike the Church which seeks to do "new things" to sustain the inherited, they believed that a) we had to release new expressions of monasticism to find new ways in a new era, b) that they wanted to learn from the new ways what the challenges, joys etc. are of the world we live in now and c) they wanted to give to us their wisdom, particularly what they have learned about community and spirituality over the centuries. They saw a line of continuum but also that like Parents there has to be a letting go in order that the child can grow toward maturity.
Churches everywhere are suffering from draconian funding cuts, so how do leaders with a heart for alternative ministries fund their passion and build communities that will last? Journalist and commentator Becky Garrison looks deep into the experience of nearly a dozen ministries in the United States and United Kingdom - all of them geared to the growing spiritual-but-not-religious demographic, and all of them highly creative ventures doing a lot with a little money. How did these ministries start from zero with $0? And how could you?
I heard this week from Karen Ward from the Church of the Apostles in Seattle - https://www.apostleschurch.org/ - that they are starting a Mission Order called "The Order of Saint Brendan the Navigator" - https://episcopalvillage.org/index.php/pioneer-order/
The idea is that Chapters can be formed by any group of Christians who can hold to the values and vision of the Order...
Missional Development' via the start up of new, renewed, and contextual Christian churches and ministries that are capable of connecting emerging generations to life and community around Jesus Christ. Especially connecting with: people with no previous church experience, people with prior negative experiences of Christianity, people in urban areas, people from non European cultures, and people from subcultures amonst whom the church rarely engages.
'Wholistic Mission' which engages all dimensions of mission: the contextual, the cross-cultural, the trans-cultural, and the counter cultural ways in which the Gospel relates to culture.
'The Reign of God Horizon' which unites us in common cause with all those working for justice and compassion in culture and society. We will develop partnerships, and work collaboratively with people of different faiths and those with no particular faith tradition, towards the renewal of human community and relationships within our various localities, because the Reign of God extends beyond the bounds of the church.
'Spiritual Stability' within a particular Christian tradition We hold that spiritual depth within Christian life and practice is most often found by living within a particular Christian tribe or spiritual tradition with integrity. Being fully part of a tradition calls for being 'under authority' within the tradition (to your Bishop, or equivalent oversight or accountability). Claiming any Christian tradition with integrity involves allowing that tradition to claim you.
I've known Karen for a few years and we've been on a few panels together at Greenbelt and met at other gatherings and we have spoken at depth about St. Brendan and new-Monasticism. Clearly the new Order shares both the values and story of Safespace, and I am beginning to wonder wether the re-gathering and re-focussing we are going through as we try to discern the way ahead is pointing us in this direction - to connect with the order and perhaps to become a chapter? What may be interesting is that it re-opens the possibility of growing two aspects of Safespace - the living community here in Telford but also a wider dispersed "membership" to the Order through us. I'm hoping, if I can find the necessary funds, to join the Order in February to share stories and explore the future together.
The combination of Fresh Expressions of Church and the explosion of interest in monastic spirituality is resulting in the emergence of new monastic communities inspired by historic patterns of religious life, but reframed for the contemporary world. In this book, leaders of traditional religious communities and emerging 'new monastic' communities tell their stories and reflect on how an ancient expression of being church is inspiring and shaping a very new one.
A good road will be there, and it will be named "God's Sacred Highway." It will be for God's people; no one unfit to worship God will walk on that road. And no fools can travel on that highway. Isaiah 35:8
We received this passage from our dear friend and sister Jackie (from the Isle of Wight) along with an encouragement to have confidence in the God who walks with us on the road. We are currently taking a season to reflect on the way forward for safespace, for individuals and for the community. I guess one can see it as a calling back together to set off once more on a new stage of the journey. The calling together is also a calling to move deeper into the shape which God has made for us - which others have seen in us (though we maybe find it hard and uncomfortable to see/believe) and which we are being challenged to grow/live into! (as a parent buy's over-sized clothes for a child knowing that the child will grow to fit the clothes in good time) We had a fantastic "Table" this evening exploring this and we ask you to pray for us as we continue to reflect and pray individually and together and as we seek to grasp something of the shape God is preparing for us.