Category Archives: Culture

New Book: Doorways to the Sacred, Developing a Sacramentality in Fresh Expressions of Church (Ancient Faith Future Mission Series)

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Really pleased to see that this book is now published.  This was for both Graham Cray, Phil Potter and I, an extremely important book to get out.  It draws on the expereinces of theologians and practitioners, engaging with the really important issue regarding how the sacraments emerge and become central to a Fresh Expression of Church.  This is vital to help a missional project become an expression of being Church.  Thie book helpfully explores lots of different projects, as well as different sacraments.  This was a labour of love, and I hope people enjoy and are inspired by this. To order the book click here

 

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Reflections on Post-Truth, Brexit and Trump as signs of pain and disappointment in our humanity in a post-Christian age

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Whether we like to face it or not, but both the vote for Brexit and Trump are a sign not just in the sense of disenfranchisement, but there is also a palpable sense of disappointment with life particularly the ongoing struggle with the pain of life.  I do think this situation is largely due to the reduction of religion and in particularly a healthy sense of a hopeful spiritual disposition, and in our largely western post-secular culture, we have turned to consumerism and materialism to fill this pain and disappointment, which actually never works.

Religion and Spirituality have worldviews that take us away from escape and avoidance or distraction, to having to face this pain and sense of disappointment.  Those who are having to deal with mental illness and addiction will tell you that we do a lot of things that are not healthy to try and quell the pain and disappointment of life, and they can lead to illness and for some the taking of their own life.

Religion and Spirituality tell us that actually we will only find peace and times of happiness if we face ourselves, face our pain and face our fragility and the truth that we only have a short time to live well in this life.  We have made this so hard by becoming so individualised and atomised that many of us feel a deep sense of loneliness and isolation even when we live in Cities.

Some have described Trump and Farage as adult children, and there is so much truth in this.  They are men who I would say have not faced the need to deal with their ego, the false-self, their pains and disappointment, and instead have got by using materialism and wealth, and importantly here, projected their pains and hurts onto others such as immigrants, Europeans and the European Union, the establishment, experts, women, Mexicans, the list is endless.  They are both infantilised by the post-religion culture we have created, and are adult children because basically they have not faced their humanity, and therefore their need of God. All of us if we are to deal with pain and disappointment have to face these ultimate existential questions of existence, and decide how we will deal with them.

This is also why we will in what is called a post-truth era, why?  Because in an infantlised world, the truth is whatever we want it to be, so that we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions and to existentially project it at others, again the great sign of the false-self. Both Trump and Farage psychologically must never take responsibility for their actions to be able to maintain such a worldview, have you ever heard reported any of these two ever saying sorry?

Ultimately religion and spirituality require each of us to face our pains, our disappointment our fragility and our humanity.  We have to make peace with ourselves and not project this at others, we need to face the calling to a form of self-control and discipline that gets beyond an eternal adolescence and face ourselves.  Otherwise we become narcissistic Peter Pans who are dangerous to ourselves and dangerous to others.  This is why Trump and Farage are dangerous.

The central truth of the Abrahamic faiths is a challenge to this unhealthy state of affairs.  Central to the three is the Shemah, adapted into the New Commandment in Christian.  Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One, you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with your mind and with all your strength…. and you are to love your neighbour as your self.  Or as Abbot Jamieson has said(former Abbot of Worth Abbey) Love God, Love yourself and Love Others. You cannot do this without facing yourself and the pain of life and disappointment, that our culture tries to avoid…..

So what is a Christian, a personal of faith or spirituality to do in this age?  Well firstly we need to live the walk and be disciplined about facing ourselves, and the second, in a faith and spiritual groups, I think we called to be communities of resistance, to challenge those social, economic and political forces that threaten to take our individual and collective life away from us, and we should not underestimate the power of resistance, hope keeping, and seekers of the common good.  Faith traditions and communities are essential to this.

The danger for us is, as in Nazi Germany, is that some Christians and Churches collude with these distorting and dehumanising forces – for example the number of conservative evangelicals that voted for Trump?  I cannot understand this…. so we need to be careful to, as there will be Christians and Churches which will collude with the unhealthy culture and political rhetoric that promote a spirituality of hate, jealousy, greed and selfishness.  The way we resist this is by sticking close to Jesus of the Gospels, and not define ourselves in opposition to various people groups, and most of all, do not lash out of a spirituality of ‘victimhood’.  When we are all victims, no one takes responsibility for their words or actions.

So let us hold onto the truths of our situation and not avoid it, let us as spiritual and faith communities be resistant to the forces that divide and dehumanises, and let us do all we can for the love of God and to seek the common good.

Let us take the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others, to guide the Church into a healthy positive alternative living out the dreams and hopes of the Kingdom of God, and follow Jesus who’s way of Love as Light challenges all the forces of darkness…… May God be with us in these difficult times, and let us not sleep walk into the dangerous situation of the 1930s when the Church did nothing to resist facism……  May God be with us all. Amen.

Christmas Eve: We are a people of the Incarnation by Ian Mobsby

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In this podcast Ian Mobsby explores lectionary texts for Christmas Eve to explore the significance of Jesus coming as a human being, as an incarnate God man.  The texts speak to us of justice, and the call of Jesus as the God-with-us means that God is serious about our humanity, and also about our salvation.  Further, we are called to participate in this incarnational mission of God, of joining in with a God concerned about restoration, transformation and love.

You can subscribe to this podcast for free by iTunes by clicking here.

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A theological approach to human sexuality to inform the Church in a globalised pluralistic culture of the 21st Century

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One of the great problems at the moment, is that the Christian Church has a polarised debate on understanding human sexuality.  The Church for centuries has had a dis-ease with the human body as a source of sin and sexual immorality, rather than made in the image of God if we trust the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures of the bible.  This problem has largely been the achilles heal of the Church because of the heresy of gnosticism that haunts the church, which saw all flesh as evil, as something we should escape from.

What we need is a better theology of human sexuality, and that there is a difference between sexual identity and sexual behaviour.

I therefore post this important paper which I think gives an important broad background and deals with the contention of the interpretation of certain biblical texts.

The Church needs to stop calling this issues around doctrine and the creeds, or heresy, and engage with the fact that we are taking about issues of biblical interpretation.  Then I hope drawing on texts like this we can draw on a sense of unity in diversity rather than the damaging debate where the two sides try to out-bible each other, and can’t accept that maybe we need to get to a place to politely disagree BUT remain brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore a model of the Church to hold into a unity in diversity rather than unity in conformity. See the link below.

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St Luke’s Church seeking an Artist in Residence

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Thurs 19th November 2015

SEEKING A MISSIONAL ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

We are seeking a proficient artist who is interested in getting involved with a parish church in transition to becoming a mixed economy of church with a number of fresh expressions initiatives.

We are seeking an artist to get involved in our nascent new monastic community with its gatherings on Tuesday eventing’s, Sunday evening service and other gatherings. With the Photographer in residence we are seeking an artist to explore contemporary iconography to use in worship and mission, as well as creating content for exhibitions and events. In exchange for this the Church is offering a substantial studio space with separate office space to join in with an emerging new church team.

For more information do see the Church Facebook Page and website currently being redesigned at www.stlukespeckham.co.uk and/or speak to Ian Mobsby our Mission Priest or Marc Gascoigne the Photographer in residence.

Email: stlukespeckham@gmail.com

Big changes afoot for me, heading south of the river

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After 13 years working with Moot, it is going to be announced by the Dioceses of London and Southwark, that I will be leaving Moot and the Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary at the end of June. I will then take some time off before heading south of the river to be a part time Priest with an inner city parish wanting to develop mission, and also part time Woolwich Episcopal Area Parish Mission Enabler.  I look forward working with the mission team in Southwark Diocese and in particular with Jane Steen the Archdeacon of Southwark and Bp Michael, the Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich.

This is going to be a big change, as I have working all my Ordained life so far with the Moot Community in the Diocese of London.  It is time for me to leave, after 13 years where the last two have been particularly challenging, and where they really need to move from start up to sustaining, which requires different skills to those that I am good at.

So thanks to all those in the Diocese of London and Moot who have helped me reach this far.  I look forward to continue to develop fresh expressions and being an Associate Missioner of the Fresh Expressions movement, as well as working with new colleagues in the Diocese of Southwark.  New beginnings!   I am sure Moot will go from strength to strength in the next phase of their life, and I remain very committed to developing New Monastic Communities in the UK and beyond.  I hope to sustain my ministry to teaching and training that will continue in the UK and abroad.

New beginnings!!!!! I would value the prayers of all my friends and colleagues.

Premodern meets Postsecular: What is a Christian? The importance of listening to the early mothers and fathers

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Some have asked me recently, why do you spend time reading the translated works of the early desert mothers and fathers (sometimes called unhelpfully Patristics) to be able think about the faith and mission in the 21st Century?

Well firstly, because this writing was written before modernism.  So much of what is written from the enlightenment to recently is based on a western modern culture.  For example much of Anglican and Lutheran writing is set in the context of the reformation onwards.  Modernism is so deep in the DNA of much writing, that we forget that there is a premodern source for Christianity.  If we look to the early writers of the premodern period, then there is real wisdom in some of what is written that can be a deep resource for reflecting on modes of understanding and expressing Christianity in a post-secular context.

A good example is the book, The Roots of Christian Mysticism by Olivier Clement.  This is an amazing book, that explores authentic Christian approaches to meditation and contemplation drawing on ancient thinking and understanding.  This book has literally challenged me deeply.

One of the most beautiful writings regarding what it means to be a Christian was written in a manuscript called “A Letter to Diognetus Chapters 5 and 6″

For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practice an extraordinary kind of life…But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and other ethnic groups as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvelous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a homeland to them, and every homeland is foreign…They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they live not after the flesh. Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all people, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. (Chapter 5)

In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in the world. The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and Christians through the diverse cities of the world. The soul has its abode in the body, and yet it is not of the body. So Christians have their abode in the world, and yet they are not of the world. The soul which is invisible is guarded in the body which is visible: so Christians are recognized as being in the world, and yet their religion remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul and wages war with it, though it receives no wrong, because it is forbidden to indulge in pleasures; so the world hates Christians, though it receives no wrong from them, because they set themselves against its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh which hates it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them. The soul is enclosed in the body, and yet itself holds the body together; so Christians are kept in the world as in a prison-house, and yet they themselves hold the world together. The soul though itself immortal dwells in a mortal tabernacle; so Christians sojourn amidst perishable things, while they look for the imperishability which is in the heavens. The soul when poorly treated in the matter of food and drinks is improved; and so Christians when punished increase more and more daily. (Chapter 6)

Speaking on New Monasticism and Mission for the Diocese of Toronto Canada, 2-13th May 2013

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Looking forward now to being in Toronto in Canada with the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. I am doing a few things that may be of interest if you are into New Monasticism, Fresh Expressions of Church and Emerging Church.

2nd May – Meeting with the Congregational Development Team
3rd May – Meeting with the Jeremiah Community
4th May – Workshop Day on New Monasticism – open to people booking see link below for the front page link
5th May – Speaking at St Martins-in-the-Fields, Toronto
6th May – Meeting with the Contemplative Fire Community Toronto
9th May – Meeting with Anglo Catholic Group exploring mission
11-12 May – Leading a retreat for the Jeremiah Community

http://www.toronto.anglican.ca/ — in Toronto, Ontario.

Book Launches – please do come if you can in London and Manchester

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The Holy Trinity is the central reality and concept that makes Christianity a distinct faith and not a jewish cult. As such God is a missionary God that challenges the Church and all Christians to participate in this mission and ministry of reconciliation, as God seeks to restore all things into renewed relationship with the divine.  In our increasingly post-secular context where people are more interested in spirituality than religion, it is the reality of the Trinity that gives us hope and opens up the spiritual landscape of the faith to those who are un-or-dechurched.

To Register for the Manchester Event 3rd Oct, click here at Manchester Cathedral
To Register for the London Event 11th Oct, click here at the London Centre for Spirituality
Canterbury Press Flyer click here

Ian Mobsby is the Priest-in-Charge and Missioner of the Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary, the home of the Moot Community in the heart of the City of London is a New Monastic Community engaged with pioneering and creative approaches to mission and evangelism in an urban context. Ian became a Christian through a very early alternative worship community from a background in socialist Atheism.  He has written and edited a number of books on mission and contemporary society, and lectured and spoken widely across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Ian is a member of the College of Evangelists of the Church of England, an Associate Missioner of the Fresh Expressions Team, a national selector for pioneer ministry, and the co-opted New Monastic member of the Advisory Council on the relationships between Religious Communities and Diocesan Bishops in the Church of England.

This book can be ordered from Canterbury Press here

What the shopping riots show us about the UK’s post-secular culture

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I have just put up a blog on the Moot Community’s Website about the link between what happened in the UKs first shopping riots and the bleak side of our emerging post-secular culture.  I think in the UK we face serious issues – and these have an impact on how we the Church respond in mission to this increasingly unhealthy and unjust situation.  To see the blog – please click here

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