Northumbria Community

It was so good to spend some time retreating in Northumberland last week. The time to slow down and reflect was very helpful.

What was also wonderful was to be a guest within the Northumbria Community. What a joy to sit at their table and join in with their rhythms!

Theirs is a dispersed community shaped by a rule of life and a common way of praying. Both the rule and the rhythm of prayer seem to have given their members a robust way of keeping going through challenge and change, and a way to live their life in pursuit of God. The beautiful liturgy also has an outward function: Celtic Daily Prayer is one of the key ways people get to find out about the Northumbria Community’s way of life.

A highlight for me was prayers and communion in their lovely woodland chapel. A building lit and heated only by fire and candle. Chilly, but very special.


The Mountain Will Fall

“It’s like being at base camp and looking up at an unconquerable mountain; can’t dwell on the difficulty, you have to just start the journey, One step follows the next which leads the way to the next. There will be missteps but as long as the vision is whole, the mountain will fall.”

Like what I’ve been hearing from the new DJ Shadow album, love this quote from him on the creative process.

I found the quote on Pitchfork.

Ash and Plastic

I read, the other day that, even at the depths of the ocean,
there are now tiny grains of plastic.

Will that be our ultimate legacy?
Petrochemicals at the bottom of the sea.
Wilderness tamed by plastic.

Didn’t we have a spark once,
A divine drop of goodness?
It seems that we’ve lost it,
No,  we’ve traded it
and all we seem to make is ash,  and plastic.

Ash and plastic where dreams of beauty and goodness and change-the world
Became discarded trinkets and scorched battlegrounds.

Ash and plastic,  round behind out impressive edifices
On the smouldering waste-heaps that we try to hide.

Will that be our legacy?  Or will we learn
And somehow find the way to re collaborate
With You.

So that ash and plastic might be made new.

Last minute Lent ideas

He we are,  Shrove Tuesday.  Pancakes tonight,  ash tomorrow.

It has felt to me that Lent is beginning very early this year – its almost caught me by surprise and I haven’t quite had as much time as I usually like to to plan what I might do this season to help me draw closer to Jesus.

In case you are simiilarly stumped here are three last minute lent resources you could use.

40 Acts are encouraging people to do one simple generous thing a day.  I’m excited about doing this – and hopefully excercising my kindness muscles this year.  We’re going to do this as a family discipline using their all-age resource.

During Advent I read Malcolm Guites excellent anthology,  Waiting on the Word,  it featured a poem a day and insightful commentary.  I am looking forward to reading his lent anthology this year.  If you don’t quite have time to get the book yet you can listen to each poem on his blog.

Finally I remember being fascinated by Ian Adam’s 40 Temptation series on Morning Bell posts last year.  An image and a provocation – some quite painful.  Ian has expanded them into an anthology of words and images that you can get from Proost.  I’m looking forward to going through this,  though expect some to make me uncomfortable.

What about you,  are you embracing any Lent disciplines or working through a resource that you hope will encourage you? I was challenged to get give some of these away to people around me this year.  Is there anyone around you that you could share a Lent journey with?

The Ash cross image came from Creationswap.


Midsummer-ish update

I remember our first summer in Deal, especially getting to the point where we had done a whole year there, being a bit of a turning point.  It feels that way again:  there is just something significant about doing a whole cycle of seasons in one place that helps me feel like I know what is happening.  It may be an illusion,  but its a nice one.  

We’ve been a year in Harrogate,  and its been a great time. A whole years worth of “what have I been up to”  would make for a very long post.  But here are a three little highlights from over the Summer so far.

Ordination as Priest

This happened on 30th June at Kairos,  it felt like a big deal.  I’ve kind of been on this journey towards becoming an anglican priest for around a decade or more.  The service itself was very significant – felt God’s presence very strongly.    Since then I’ve led one communion service,  got another couple over the weekend,  and enjoyed saying “bless you” and knowing that it’s a fully caffeinated blessing I am offering.

Ben Askew 006

I got well and truly anointed,  here is a picture of me covered in oil next to Bishop James – who ordained me.

Tour de France

A really fun weekend.  In case there are any non-yorkshire dwellers reading,  the county kind of went nuts for a weekend. We went down and watched the bikes going by and enjoyed the atmosphere.  It was really fun,  there is something really incredible about being in the middle of big crowds in the town where you live.  Good times.

2014-06-28 15.27.022014-07-05 16.42.582014-06-28 15.34.25


One of the things I’ve been doing this term is running an Alpha course that is now coming to an end. It’s been so good to work with a team and journey with a little group of people as they journey towards faith in God.  We’ve seen God do some really good things in people’s lives.   I actually used to be a little bit of an alpha cynic – mainly due to my own issues – but the more of these I’m involved in the more I love them.  Such a good, simple way of helping people explore faith. There have been some recent tweaks to the course that I think make it really compatible with a missional community setup like the one we have here.

I really like the work on promotion and publicity they’re doing too,  like this video:

Now H and I are trying to get a few jobs done before the end of the school term and slow down into some rest time over the summer.

Try Out: Forest Church

Looking forward to leading a couple of Try OUT sessions tomorrow on Forest Church as part of the Vision for Mission Day Out in Harrogate along with the diocese environment officer Jemima. 

It’ll be a try out session for us too, we both wanted a chance to give FC a go.  I’m excited about it – think it could be a great resource for a Missional Community!

The sessions are 10:30 – 12 and 1:30 to 3 and we’ll start each one at the bottom entrance to Valley Gardens.  If you are in Harrogate and fancy trying out a way of connecting with God through nature come and find us! 

There is a bit more info on this pdf.

The God Lab

Helen and I picked this book up at New Wine last year,  I think she might have gone to a seminar by the author, or we may have just liked the title and the cover (we are that shallow when it comes to books).  Anyway,  I’ve finally got round to reading it and I’m really glad we did!

The God Lab is a fresh take on the sayings of Jesus, often called the beatitudes, from Matthew 5.  Each chapter is a reflection on one saying and then a prayer-experiment based on the reflection.  Roger Bretherton is clinical psychologist and draws from that knowledge, as well as from various Christian prayer traditions, to form these exercises.

We are currently looking at the Beatitudes during our central gatherings at Kairos Church.  I’d definitely recommend this book to any Kairos people want to explore those sayings more deeply.