To give people the heads up, I will be running two online courses on New Monasticism starting in September, the first I am facilitating on my own which is a 4 week introduction to a more contemplative and missional understanding of New Monastic Community, and the second is a course for people wanting to set up New Monastic Communities which I will be leading with MarK Berry of the Safe Space Community. So see below details for the Intro course and please do send this onto anyone else who may be interested. Intrigued and what to know more about contemplative and missional new monasticism?? Why not try out this short online course I am leading. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/intro-course-to-new-monastic-missional-communities-by-ian-mobsby-tickets-115539526835
We the Western Missional Church needs to learn from the ways and practices of the persecuted Church of the Middle East
You many not know, but one of the greatest growing Christian contemplative expressions of Church is in Iran and Iraq. They meet to pray, but have no buildings, no visibility, no formalised leaders but are deeply oppressed where their lives are often at threat, and also at risk of rape by the secret police – both the men and the women.
Their model is a radical openness to the Holy Spirit, to be obedient to the Gospels, where there is a deep relational commitment to be brother and sister Christians, but how they wait and hold back and wait for others to ask religious questions. The focus then is on living the Christian faith – discipleship – not evangelistic events or the approaches we use in the west which just don’t work. For them this is high risk, where they have no religious freedom and oppressed by the threatening domination system.
What can we learn from this?
Clearly at the moment we are not persecuted, but I do believe we are struggling in the west with a massive negative stereotype concerning Christianity and the church which is still too connected to establishment and privilege – and culturally is seen and treated in a way that is not far from forms of prejudice that can easily grow into forms of persecution.
The persecution in the persecuted church allow each of the individual to grow spiritually to have the maturity to cope with oppression but open to God doing things and working miracles that comes from prayer and being an underground network family.
In my new context, Christchurch Southwark, we are struggling because the area is I think sanitised by the market society which isolates the rich and dehumanises and marginalises the poor and vulnerable where our worth is measured against economic or commodified value. So the question is how to we relate to this type of society where many are not free and struggling and not open to Christianity, largely because they have never seen it lived. Living it is critical so people can experience Christians and how faith and spirituality has transformed their life. Only by being an example can we be effective with mission and hence Jesus” teachings and the new commandment and the Lord’s Prayer as a way of life. So this is what we need to learn, and we have got lazy in the west, because we don’t have to fight for the right to express our faith. I am struck by the approach in Iran and Iraq and China because they developed a movement, being able to use forms of relational ministry and do food ministry, friendship and soul friends so we put the focus on living it, and learning to live it better together. If you get a chance see the Youtube clips of sheep amongst wolves. It is cheesy in places and some of its theology is not where I am at, yet I believe the focus on living it guided by God builds mature disciples – I think is helping me to think what I need to get going at Christchurch..,..
Pleased to be able to say that I have finally moved from Peckham to Southwark SE1 to an ancient parish of Christchurch Southwark, with the aims of revitalising an ancient church with a contemplative focus to being an ecclesial community with a focus on mission being contemplative action. I hope to found a residential new monastic community in the parish, and instigate a focus on Christian spirituality for those who live and work in the area.
For more information see Christchurch Southwark on Facebook see: https://www.facebook.com/chrisdtchurchsouthwark/
Prophets, by their very nature, cannot be at the center of any social structure. Rather, they are “on the edge of the inside.”
I have just spent 4 fantastic days at the Hui Mission & Theology Conference hosted by Church Mission Society at Ripon College Cuddesdon Oxford. This was a gathering of practitioners, theologians and educators, and it was a wonderful opportunity for mutual learning and encouragement.
Personally, it was a breath of a fresh air, being amongst people with a similar form of vocation across Europe, and I loved it.
I have been struck by the call for such ministries to be prophetic, and in Richard Rohrs reflections this week, there has been a whole focus on the role of prophets, and the challenge it is for those whose vocation touches this calling and how has it is to be part of any organisational structure. Prophets are called to hack the system for its own flourishing, an important function of both pioneering and fresh expressions of church.
So now we enter into the 6 weeks season of the resurrection as Easter, and I think we don’t focus enough on ways of engaging with the season after the intensity of Lent, the Passion and Holy Week.
One way to keep focused on the spirituality of the season of the resurrection is by keeping Stations of the Resurrection in the life of the ecclesial community: a good example is here.
In this podcast Ian Mobsby explores the Gospel of John Chapter 10 where Jesus describes himself metaphorically as the ‘Good Shepherd’. This biblical passage is part of a large text where Jesus uses a number of ‘I AM’ phrases and metaphors to enable people to begin to understand his divinity. This was recorded at the Parish Church of St Luke’s Church (Camberwell) in Peckham on the 4th Sunday of Easter 2018.
This podcast was recorded on the third sunday of Easter 2018, where Ian Mobsby explores the implication of the Gospel text Luke 24: 13-38 which explores the familiar stories of the Road to Emmaus and the first appearance of Jesus to the disciples. These texts are crucial for our encouragement and hope looking back from the 21st Century, and says something about the calling to demonstrate that we are truly following Jesys by the way we live our lives.
And so we start to reach the climax of Holy Week as we enter into Maundy Thursday when we remember Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, gathering the disciples together in the upper room for the Last Supper, and the torment of his praying and betrayal by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus as Messiah is birthing in these actions the Church in the context of the Kingdom of God he has been talking about up to this point. He washes their feet as a sign that they will be Apostles of the new Church. Jesus, in gathering the disciples, performs of the feast of the new Ecclesial Community, the Church, in the first Holy Communion, Eucharist or Mass depending on your tradition. In doing so he not only births the Church but also, through the Holy Spirit enacts a reconnection where people and the persons of the Trinity are brought close through the actions of Jesus. But even in this wonderful moment of the beginning of the Church, not that the disciples knew it was the beginning of the Church, there is also a spirit of anger of betrayal as Judas feels such disappointment in what he believes is a failed leader, and goes off to begin the betrayal.
In Jesus’ prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, we encounter Jesus in a dark place, the inner conflict between Human and God must have been intense – and we know this because Jesus sweated blood – a biological sign of extreme distress. And so Jesus there experiences the pain of so many humans then and now who are in places of despair and no hope. Jesus the human is sorely tempted not to enter into Tridium – the three days when Jesus will suffer, be crucified and then the paradox of part of God being dead for 3 days. So we remember the great sacrifice that Jesus makes on our behalf, and for the salvation of the world, which even now in the 21st Century doesn’t understand or accept the greatest gift someone can give you – life through their own suffering.
So today we begin the great humiliation of God, where the institutions of the Temple and the Roman Empire think they are winning – because they to still believe in the myth of violence as a way to control and win. They do not realise the Jesus had a different agenda, the way of the Cross, the way of love, the way of redemption through love, not violence, and the gift of the Kin-dom of God and the beginning of the Church. There is no greater love than this, for someone to lay down their life for a friend… Amen.
Today the Church traditionally remembers Jesus being anointed with oil by Mary Magdelene with priceless oil which was highly criticised by Judas saying the item could have been sold and raised money for the poor, causing a spate between Judas and Jesus, where Jesus hints that he knows his time is short. So today is called Spy Wednesday, because of Judas’ decision to betray Jesus to the authorities, and was looking for an opportunity to do so at a time when there were less people to defend him.
Judas’ betrayal has always been a huge paradox to me – how could someone who knew Jesus so well go against a man he thought was the Messiah. The writers of some of the Gospels try to say that somehow Judas was overcome with evil, which is why his behaviour changed so much. Although I believe in evil, I do, like Walter Wink says, evil is manifested by human selfishness and violence. This being so, I think I understand Judas’ as being utterly disappointed with Jesus. His anger and betrayal are because Judas wants Jesus to be a different type of Messiah – more the muscular Christianity and physical type, to throw out the Romans and set up a Theocracy to dominate the world. So Jesus is a disappointment event to his disciples, and this speaks powerfully to us now in the 21st Century.
So often Jesus’ call to live according to love and the common good just does not make sense in such a competitive and violent world, where humanity is not valued and often commodified. So Jesus’ challenge is often seen as a weak force, too weak for many who want a warrior-Messiah. In so doing, they miss the subtlety of Jesus who is his own brand of Messiah. And it seems that Mary Magdelene is the only one to recognise this, again those who are marginalised and denigrated understand who Jesus really is.
Judas represents all forms of Christianity and the Church who assume Jesus is absent and has no power and so do the most terrible things in the name of Jesus and God. Christian fundamentalists being an obvious example. Mary Magdelene – is offered here as a good disciple and as we know later, was probably one of the founding disciples of the early Church before patriarchy denigrated alongside other key women disciples in the Early Church as the Church becomes infected with the DNA of the Roman Empire.
So today we remember humbly that Jesus comes as a Servant Messiah – not a Testosterone God and I for one are so grateful that Jesus is this type of Messiah, that brings real hope of change for the world through love.
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Tuesday of Holy Week: Entry to the Kingdom of God is not controlled by human authority and requires no Visa
On Holy Tuesday we traditionally remember Jesus teaching about his authority and again challenges the Priests, Pharisees and Sadducees of hypocrisy. We remember today Jesus’ teaching as recorded in Matthew 23 with the Eight woes which for me resound out to all those we seek to control and exclude… He holds back no punches here …. and right now I think Jesus speaks to all those who seek to make Christianity an ideology or a form of fundamentalism. Here Jesus makes it quite clear that there are no border controls for the Kingdom of God, entry is aligned to following Jesus in Heart, Mind, Body and Soul… So Jesus asserts his authority over the Temple and the whole religious establishment and is quite clear they have no right to block people from the Kingdom…
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.4 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of shell5 as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, if anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
23 d“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. hThese you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
25 j“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
27 n“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 s“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 uFill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,6whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
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