Category Archives: Trinitarian

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.

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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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

 

 

 

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

Language we use to talk of God

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Now that I am again in the South Pacific amongst some of the most post-colonial and post-secular people, I am reminded how anachronistic is the language we use for God.  When speaking of God, we tend to use majestic language – of monarchy – of Kingship and of Lord.  In a world that is increasingly discovering a more mystical and spiritual sense, this majestic language creates negative connotations around power, hierarchy and outdated forms of governance.

So what language should we use for God?  How can we be authentically Christian yet contextual?  This is the argument that Sallie MacFague uses in her writings and I don’t think we have been able to make much progress.  She suggests the importance of metaphorical theology – the use of metaphorical language in our pursuit of using affirming and accessible words for God.

In the Moot Community we have used words such as Creator, Redeemer and Companion as functional metaphorical language instead of Father, Son and SPirit. But we still have a long way to go.

In countries like Australia, I am reminded that contemporary culture is much more interested in premodern modes of expressing spirituality.  There is great interest for example in the pantheism of Australian Aboriginal culture oppressed by colonisation in the modern period.  So in our now post-secular culture, premodern language finds new resonance.

So how do we express the deep mysticism of Christianity in a language that is accessible to post-secular seekers.  Well for me it starts with a re appreciation of how the Hebrews developed a language for God coming from experience.  This is the judeo-christian tradition at the heart of the faith that finds its fulfillment in the Holy Trinity.  So we need to increasingly find post-patriarchical and non-power language for naming God.

End of Over busyness and visit to Australia

Dear Friends.  First a big apology for blog silence.  We have been amazingly busy launching the whole new venture of the Moot Community at the Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary, and in particular, gearing ourselves up for the Lounge Project, an attempt to have an arts and spiritual and cafe space to promote wellbeing, right living and the Christian faith and spirituality.  Nothing like starting a big project in a world resession!!

So I am pleased to say I have the good fortune of going back to Australia to have a bit of a rest and catch up with friends, and do a bit of speaking and encouraging of emerging/fresh expressions/new monasticism.  I will post more about this when it is clearer… I will be in Oz from 23rd July to 4th Aug.

Really pleased to say that Moot will be doing 3 services at the Greenbelt Festival on Sat, Sun and Mon, and I will be speaking on one panel and one meditation and prayerful session in Soul Space on the Friday night.

Fresh Expressions, Dechurched and Unchurched

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This week, I have had the wonderful good fortune and opportunity to be able to teach at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge MA USA, with a finale of giving the keynote speech at this years Episcopal Village Day Event at the Episcopal Cathedral in Boston.

From the discussions, I have been struck by something I had missed before.  Many of my pioneering and missioner orientated colleagues in the UK have been frustrated, that the projects they have incarnated out of hopes and dreams, seem to have started with not being able to make an impact on the totally unchurched – the primary focus, and instead have started with a ministry that began with the dechurched.

Now, it has struck me that this is my experience too in the Moot Community, something that we have faced some criticism for in the early days.  But – it has struck me, may be this is the intentions of the God outside of our own needs and desires.   Jesus himself in the Gospel, very rarely goes directly to the unchurched from a Jewish perspective – I can think of the Samaritan Woman at the well and a few others.  No, instead Jesus associated with those who were Jewish who were outside of the powerful temple system to build up a new community of disciples with jews who were very similar to the dechurched. It seems that Jesus was intentional about gathering around him a community of the dechurched, who through God’s death and resurrection are empowered to become the Apostles, and the beginning of the Church through mission to the Gentile unchurched.  May it just be that ecclesia, and the building of ecclesial communities begins with pioneer missioners building small communities of the dechurched to create deep and radical Christian community that then has the maturity to start and sustain mission and evangelism to the unchurched.

In the Moot Community we have spent 7 years building up a community of the dechurched, which now is intentionally starting out to seek to service God by reaching out missionally to the unchurched.  Maybe – focusing on the dechurched first is right strategically, as long as this then is matched by a commitment for the previously unchurched to mature into the call of seeking to serve the unchurched.

So pioneering missioners, don’t be disappointed that what you are doing seems to attract the dechurched and not the unchurched, just maybe this is the starting place to build community to be able to reach out to the unchurched effectively.  I think this is true…..

New Book launches in Feb and March 2011

From the 1st of Feb we are entering the launching of the new book of which I am the Co-Editor New Monasticism as Fresh Expression of Church’ part of the Ancient Faith Future Mission Series.  So there are launch events on Tuesday (1st) in London UK and Thursday (3rd) in Manchester UK, and then 17th Canberra AUS.  This will be followed by launches on 17th March in Newcastle AUS and Melbourne 25th March in AUS.

It’s a great book, with chapters by:  Shane Claiborne (Simple Way Community), Andy Freeman (Reconcile Community Reading & 24-7 Prayer Community), Mark Berry (Safe Space Community), Diane Kershaw (Order of Mission), Ian Adams (CMS Small Missional Communities), Tessa Holland (Contemplative Fire), Tom SIne (Mustard Seeds), Bp Graham Cray (Archbishop’s Mission and Leader of Fresh Expressions Team (UK), Philip Roderick (Contemplative Fire), Pete Askew (Northumbria Community), Abbot Stuart Burns (Mucknell Abbey).

I think it makes a great second book in this important series.  We have started working on a third book in the series, which Aaron Kennedy (from the Moot Community) and I are editing with Graham Cray on the whole issue of Fresh Expressions and the Kingdom of God.

Initial response to the Book for the Parish by Milbank and Davidson

Last month, the new book “For the Parish, a critique of Fresh Expressions” was published by Alison Milbank and Andrew Davison from a catholic Radical Orthodoxy perspective by Canterbury Press.

Although I found the forward and introductory chapters infuriatingly irritating in its tone and a tad polemical with the real danger of making far-reaching statements about all fresh expressions coming from the same stable (which is completely dualistic and somewhat untrue), there is much in this book that I welcome as a first real critique that questions the theology and practice of fresh expressions of church.  They are right to point out a number of weaknesses concerning ecclesiology and practice, something I first looked at some time ago in my research and book “Emerging and Fresh Expressions of Church” which also looked at what it meant to be authenticially church and Anglican. Some of these concerns have been the reflections of the Fresh Expressions Roundtable Number 5, which involves Theologians, Ordinands, Priest and others coming from a Catholic and Contemplative perspective.

They are right to question whether some of the experiments in being fresh expressions of church are sufficiently asking the right questions how to be ‘in culture but not of culture’.  It has been a frustration of mine for sometime that somethings called ‘fresh expressions’ are really not fresh expressions of the church. They raise big issues in Missiology but I have to say with very little engagement of missiology, this book is very much saying that modern Anglican post-liberal theology is about ‘going back to the church’ and therefore puts the Church at the top, so that Ecclesiology as a theological discipline becomes more important than missiology and pastoral theology, as everything is about the Church.  Unfortunately there is no real engagement with contextual theology or models of church, this is the classic combination of Church as Political Society (Christendom) using Dulles’ terminology modelled with a translation model of contextual theology using S B Bevans terminology and a thoroughly attractional model of church.

I will respond to some of the key elements of theology in this book when I have had time to think about things which I summarise as: The Kingdom and the Church, Salvation and the Church, Mission and the Church, the apophatic understandings of belief, Anglican identity, and the balance of belief with spiritual practices.

Like I say, at times I think this book will be known as “the book you throw across the room in irritation” but saying that, I completely welcome the need to sharpen up mission and ecclesiological thinking and practice.  At best some of the things I see done in the name of fresh expressions are clumsy and ill-thought-through, and bordering on syncretistic with culture.  So I welcome the critique even if I find some of its understandings and assumptions of fresh expressions to be ill-informed and over-stated.  It is never a good idea just critique a whole initiative based on a somewhat out of date church report, much further research could have been included, but that would have meant less of a polemical and non-dualistic engagement. This is a critique mixed in with a rant.

As I said, I will be blogging about some of the areas the book addresses above.

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