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.
Category Archives: Theology
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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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
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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Following in this series building on my two previous posts, I want now to make a case that a form of contemplative prayer is essential if this is really New Monasticism.
Whether you read the work of Shane Claiborne, and American New Monastics, or those coming out of the Catholic Worker Movement and liberation theology in South America or Europe, a recovery of contemplative prayer is for me, essential.
Contemplative Prayer is a commitment to a form of prayer that is about encountering God, and it starts with silence. There is nothing like silence to have to face who you are beyond the ego, pride, entertainment, immaturity, that forces you to face who you are, and an openness to encountering God on God’s terms. Prayer is so often dumbed down in todays world, where at its worst prayer is uploaded as God as heavenly counsellor who then downloads answers back to the individual. This is so utterly individualistic and consumerist it misses the point. Ultimately prayer is a medium of encounter with God. It is inherently mystical, uncontrollable, and other.
Too often I hear people say – I am an extrovert – contemplative prayer is not for me – because it is for introverts. This is just so wrong and a collusion with the shadow or false self (see the work of Richard Rohr and others on this subject). There are different forms of prayer, ones where we encounter God from nature, from mystical experience outside of ourselves, but importantly here, also encountering God from within ourselves, where God often speaks through the details of our lives. The bible often uses the language of the followers of Jesus as having ‘a temple of the Holy Spirit’ within them. This then requires us to seek God from within as well as without.
New Monastics I think therefore draw on different forms of contemplative prayer. For some more into mystical theology and a bit more catholic draw on the Benedictine, Franciscan and Ignatian. Others draw on a revitalised Celtic tradition of nature inspired Christian prayer, and others draw on more contemplative prayer coming out of the charismatic movement descovering spiritual practices. All these traditions draw on a similar root of contemplative prayer. Without this focus on getting beyond your thinking and feeling, the individual is too locked into their own self. True contemplative prayer seeks to get beyond this as part of a call to prayer as part of ‘Prayerful-Action’. This form of prayer is about seeking to catch up with what God is doing, and less about ego-consumptive gratification – the curse of so much of modern Christianity.
To be able to love God, love yourself and love your neigbour (Summary of the New Commandment of Jesus) each Christian needs a healthy, nourishing and sustaining form of Christian spirituality. This comes from study of the Bible, dialogue amongst Christians and importantly here – from Prayer.
In the ancient prayer traditions of the Church, there are two forms of prayer – the Via Positiva – the sense of the presence of God, and the Via negativa – the sense of the absence of God. When we encounter God, then this can lead to joy, warmth and that sense of contentment. But sometimes God feels very absent, which is hard and painful.
Some very unhelpful writers have said that pain is an aboration to the spiritual prayerful path. This I would say could not be further from the truth. Pain is part of the human condition, for us to grow in our spirituality from infancy through adolescence into maturity, minus the false self and ego, change is painful. Infact the mystics teach us, that without pain we would not change. This is the challenge of going deeper with the path of Jesus, and prayer is very much part of this process.
Given all of this, I am convinced that contemplative forms of prayer are not just desirable for new monasticism to be real and deep enough to sustain such a way of being s Christian disciple, I want to argue it is essential. Otherwise New Monasticism just becomes one more romantic fadism that had great promise, but did not deliver.
If New Monasticism is going to be focused on ‘contemplative action’ then it is essential that those who are activists don’t just act out of their own strongly held convictions, but God MUST be the source of the action. And equally that Prayer that does not lead to loving service, is again wrapped up in self-serving Christian spirituality, looses the DNA of Jesus who reminds us that he came in the very nature of a Servant.
So if there is no contemplative prayer, I want to argue its not new monastic, and it is therefore not following the path that leads right back to the Desert Mothers and Fathers who began Christian Monasticism on a focus on prayerful action in the deserts of Alexandria, Syria and Palestine.
What is New Monasticism?
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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In this podcast Ian Mobsby explores the differences between attractional models of Church with apostolic models and the importance of seeking God through the story and needs of people in the local context. This was recorded at the 4th Anglo-Catholic Symposium on 23rd November 2016 in the Woolwich Episcopal Area of the Diocese of Southwark.
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
Papers from Previous Gatherings that are important
1. Renewal of the Religious Life by Etienne Veto, Lambeth Palace Gathering
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