Category Archives: Spirituality

Easter 4: I AM The Good Shepherd: Freedom & Obedience by Ian Mobsby

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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.

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Maundy Thursday: Ecclesial Community & Betrayal

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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.

Tuesday of Holy Week: Entry to the Kingdom of God is not controlled by human authority and requires no Visa

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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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Monday of Holy Week: Messianic Challenge to the Market Society & The Religious Temple

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Monday in Holy Week, the day after Palm Sunday, is when Jesus returns to the temple after staying the night in Bethany, where he curses the Fig Tree and literally throws out the money changers in the Temple.  Traditionally this is interpreted as Jesus asserting his Messianic authority and the importance of actual faith in practice, and not on religious privilege.  We remember Jesus’ challenge to the Pharisees and Sadducees – that living the faith was important – not just relying on being God’s people – it needed the orientation of the heart and action rather than just in the head and not impacting on the way they were living. It is interesting that the moneychangers were in the outer courts assigned for people like me – the Gentiles.  But at the same time, Jesus has compassion on the sick who gather around him after he throws out the market stalls.

What are we to make of this in Holy Week? 

There is something here about Jesus challenging a purely market society when it denigrates God and the poor and needy, and boy is that an issue right now.  The Poor, in particular, are treated like Lepers in our current culture – where often there is little compassion or support – even from some Christians!   So Monday week is a reminder then to engage with the question how are we IN a modern culture but also NOT OF our modern culture. The balance of affirming what is God, and challenging that what distorts.  Or Jesus puts it far better than I can – Give to Caesar what is Caesars and give to Gog what is Gods.

So as we enter Holy Week, think about your life, your priorities, your sense of where God is and calling you, to step up to what Jesus is saying here – around a practical outworking of the Christian life – not to exist out of a sense of privilege or even wealth, but the calling to follow Jesus as he demonstrates his Messiahship, after he has entered Jerusalem the first time on Palm Sunday, and comes the second day to challenge the Authority of the Temple and the power of the Market.

And so in the context of Jesus challenging the Powers of the Religious Temple and the power of the Market, we remember that Jesus anointed and healed those in need, as the new authority is centred on the Kingdom of God, or rather – the Kin-dom of God as a New Zealander friend once called it.

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Jesus does not come to fulfil the myth of redemptive violence, he comes to begin the Missio Ecclesiae and the Kingdom of the Common Good

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It is poignant that as I encounter the shock of France of the senseless killing of ordinary French people killed for shopping at a Supermarket by an extremist religious fanatic bent on redemptive violence for a misreading of the Koran, it is poignant that the Christian Church remembers Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

The crowds were expecting Jesus to be a King, to bring in a new political theocracy by the sword, to throw our the Romans, and to get back to the idea of the Jewish people being special and better than anyone else. This was the common expectation of the Messiah.

But instead Jesus comes in powerlessness, all he can offer is the love of God, himself, this is all he brings and load of ex-fishermen and wasters from the disliked part of the country.

So Jesus hits head on with these expectations that continue to now.  In many ways Jerusalem is still in exactly the same place it was when Jesus came – divided by hate, divided by religion, and divided by the violent politics of people who believe that the sword is the only way to effect change.

But actually Jesus comes with a different agenda, he comes with the idea of love, that God through the Holy Spirit begins the missio Ecclesiae, the mission of a new social order, the mission of the Kingdom, to build a society based on the common good, on common decency, on common opportunity, on the rebuilding of our common humanity – not to be exploited or oppressed by violence.  But set free, as all are set free to be the fulfilment of love and goodness.

And so Jesus hits head on the Roman Empire, the Jewish Religious Establishment, the evil of the Crusades, and the violence of the World, and actually, Jesus is the only one that will continue – the rest will fall and fade – Jesus and his vision of the Loving Kingdom of God is the survivor.

So as the people welcome the King on Palm Sunday, they do not know what type of King they are acknowledging – even today much of the Church has no idea that Jesus stands against the myth of redemptive violence – and comes as the Prince of Peace as foretold at his Birth.

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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.

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Outcomes from the New Monasticism Conference October 2016

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Following the success of the convention weekend, please find below some of the outcomes and resources coming out of the 14-16th October 2016.

Feedback form for those attending the weekend

We are keen to hear your feedback ONLY FROM THOSE WHO ATTENDED, so please do complete the link to let us know what you thought and to help us plan for the next time here

Summary Report from the Facilitators for the questions and issues identified 

Please find the link to the report presented on Sunday morning at the convention, which identifies key issues and questions that we in the network need to consider. closingsummaryreport

Results from the completed Questionnaire 

The results from the questionnaire completed by attendees of the Convention can be found here.

Address from Phil Potter, Archbishop’s Missioner & Lead for Fresh Expressions & Bp Jonathan Clark, the Bp of Croydon.

Address from Phil Potter, Archbishops Missioner,  philpotteraddress and link to Facebook Group that includes Video Recordings from Bp Jonathan Clark, the Facilitators reflections and the prayer and some of the times of prayer and worship sessions here.

Handouts for Stream 2  

The link to download the handouts for the three sessions for Saturday in .pdf form click the link here. These are available also for anyone in Stream 1 who may find them helpful

Schedule and Menu for the Gathering/Conference

Please find linked here, a pdf of the current draft plan for the conference with details.  We need people to attend all of this to maximise our time together, so click here for the    conferencefacilitatorsplan    participantlist     conferencemenu

Group participation in Streams 1 and 2 

For those already involved in NM groups you will be in Steam 1, and we have divided you into 3 dialogue groups A-C.  For those who are interested in setting up a NM groups then you will be in Stream 2, and you will be in 6 working groups.  Please download the following document for both Stream 1 and Stream 2 and note which room you are in for the Saturday: participantlist

Position Papers for the Conference to read before you come

1. Paper compiled by Ned Lunn (York) anunderstandingofreligiouslife

2. Charism & institution: What defines a religious community by Tim Watson (Chemin Neuf)
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Papers from Previous Gatherings that are important

1. Renewal of the Religious Life by Etienne Veto, Lambeth Palace Gathering
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2. New Monasticism and other new religious movements by Ian Mobsby (St Lukes) Chris Neal (CMS)(1)Acknowledged Religious Communities, Briefing Paper

3. Acknowledgment Process in the CofE
(2)The Advisory Council Acknowledgement Document

Menu for Lunch and Dinner for Fri & Sat

All here: conferencemenu

Relevant Book Resources UK Context

1. New Monastic Handbook by Ian Mobsby & Mark Berry

2. New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of Church Eds Graham Cray, Aaron Kennedy & Ian Mobsby

3. Totally Devoted, the challenge of New Monasticism by Simon Cross 

4. Punk Monk by Pete Greig and Andy Freeman

5. Embracing Solitude: Women and New Monasticism by Bernadette Flanagan

6. Cave Refectory Road by Ian Adams

7. God Unknown, the Holy Spirit in contemporary spirituality and mission by Ian Mobsby

 

 

 

Ignatian Spirituality with Hugo Adan Fernandez

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In this podcast on Tuesday 13th September 2016, The Peckham Well New Monastic Community (of the parish of St Lukes Church) met with Hugo Adan Fernandez to explore Ignatian Spiritualty.  Hugo became a Christian through the work of the Jesuits in the 1980s in the difficult times of Franko.  Drawing on the life of St Ignatius, Hugo explores the implications of this particular approach to being Christian drawing on a contemplative life, that leads to contemplative action and liberation theology.  Hugo unpacks the relationship of Ignatian spirituality regarding contemplation and meditation and listening to God in the ordinariness of life, through moments of consolation and desolation.

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