Category Archives: Friendship

The importance of the example of St Brendan for Pioneer Ministers

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St Brendan was an early Christian pioneer from Ireland, who contributed to the re-evangelisation of the United Kingdom from Ireland in the Saxon Period.  He is known as Brendan the Navigator, and I think he has a part to play in our shared sense of vocation to pioneering.

Please hear, that I am one of those type of Christians who bulks slightly at the 19th Century romanticism of ‘Celtic Christianity’, but do honour the importance of key figures like Brendan.

Whilst on a retreat with the Northumbria Community,  (which was a crucial time for me after I stopped a few weeks ago of being the Leader of the Moot Community, and before I and a few mooters move to Peckham to set up a new monastic community and serve the needs of the Parish of St Luke’s North Peckham), the figure of Brendan was an important source for encouragement.

The sea in early Christian writings, reflected the space like the desert for the desert mothers and fathers.  It is dangerous, wild, uncertain, unpredictable, and life threatening.  But facing the desert and the sea, is about discipleship, where they act as a metaphor for the spiritual journey of life.

 

I like many others have got older, now 47, so pioneering seems to get harder, taking risks, as you get older.  So I have had a lot of fears about starting out again, partly because pioneering has cost me a lot emotionally and financially let alone socially and personally.  But Brendan and the creative writing around his vocation, really helped me to focus on what God was calling me into next, and to find peace in uncertainty.

In the Northumbria Community’s Daily Celtic Prayer, Part XVI for Brendan, I found the following prayer absolutely spot on.  I am now trying to pray this every day as part of my prayer time, that it can in me incarnate hope when I hold onto much fear. So this is a quote of that prayer and I highly recommend getting hold of their Daily Celtic Prayer:

Lord I will trust you
help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, can I trust you?
to be stronger that each storm in me?

Do I still yearn for Your glory in lighten on me?
I will show others the care You have shown me.
I determine amidst all uncertainty always to trust.

I choose to live beyond regret, and let You recreate my life.
I believe You will make a way for me and provide for me,
If only I trust You, and obey.

I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times are still in Your hands.

I will believe You for my future,
chapter by chapter, until all the story is written.

Focus my mind and my heart upon You,
my attention always on You without alteration.

Strengthen me with Your blessing,
and appoint to me the task.

Teach me to live with eternity in view,
Tune my spirit into the music of heaven,
Feed me, and, somehow,
make my obedience count for You.

Big changes afoot for me, heading south of the river

movingon.

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.

Three Miles North of Molkom

I am pleased to say that I have now submitted my first draft to Paraclete Press for my draft book “The New Monastics: Building Ecclesial communities out of contextual mission in the third millennium. I have also submitted a chapter in the Book Andrew Walker leads with Continuum about Spirituality in the City.

Somewhat Ironically, both these chapters resonate with the film I have just watched with my friend David, ‘The Miles North of Molkom’, which is a docu-film expressing the stories and lives of a number of spiritual seekers, at a summer festival in Sweden. It was an amusing, sad and moving account of people attempting to make sense of their lives in our painful overly-individualistic and consumptive world.  This resonated with some work I did today, for the Diocese of Rochester where I supported Graham Cray of Fresh Expressions, where the Suffrogen Bishop talked of “Politics being defeated by Shopping”.  Too true.  So I commend the film if you doubt that our culture is spiritually seeking.

The point of Ecclesial communities – friendship with God friendship with others

It has been good for us in the Moot Community to get the input from Jemma Allen, on the whole focus of the Christian life on friendship. Rightly she has come and challenged us Brits about our language for God and the faith, which remains still very much based on power language and Christendom.  I for example, was quite immune to the number of times we use the word Lord.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to help you see what is right before your eyes.

What Jemma has reminded me of, is the connection for the need of deep friendships as a sign of a healthy ecclesial community, and the core focus of the Christian faith.  it is the depths and commitment to relationships and seeking friendship that is an outward sign of the Kin-dom of God, and follows some of the approach of Christ in gospels.   Friendship then is the medium for transformation, hope giving care.  It is therefore the work of God, through friendships that we become more human, taking off our masks and pretending to be other people.

It reminds me of the work of Ryan Bolger, in his PhD on the Emerging Church, where he summarised the qualities of the emerging church as: the desire to imitate the life of Jesus; transform secular society; emphasise communal living; welcome outsiders; be generous and creative; and lead without control.

So the significance then of Church is not right teaching, or about perfect worship, or the slick liturgy, it is about the people and their relationships to one another as a medium for the outworking of God.  So many churches have lost this focus.  I am reminded of this in the call of the Ministry of Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5 11-21:

11 We know what it means to fear the Lord, and so we try to persuade others. God knows us completely, and I hope that in your hearts you know me as well.12 We are not trying again to recommend ourselves to you; rather, we are trying to give you a good reason to be proud of us, so that you will be able to answer those who boast about people’s appearance and not about their character.13 Are we really insane? It is for God’s sake. Or are we sane? Then it is for your sake.14 We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that we recognize that one man died for everyone, which means that they all share in his death.15 He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake. 16 No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so.17 Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.18 All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.19 Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ.[a] God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.

20 Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends!21