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.


Askew Update

The last year has had a lot of twists and turns. One word we have used again and again is transition. We have been involved, as a family, in lots of change.

One result of all of that is that I have been given a gift – some time away from being curate at Kairos for placements elsewhere. I’m becoming very grateful for this, but will miss the Kairos Church community!

I started last week with a few days retreat at the parent-house of the Northumbria Community.

I’m going to be a having a chunk of time working with Kx this week and then spending three weeks with Sorted, a youth and young adult community that meets across Bradford. In all of these places I’m looking for the principles, rules and practices communities use to give shape and depth to discipleship.

I started blogging 15 years ago(!) its always been pretty sporadic. Over the last few years I’ve written quite a bit for Kairos (some of it here) and much less on this site. I’m hoping this next few months will provide an opportunity to blog more again.

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.

Wisdom and Crying

We’ve got our leaders learning community this weekend,  I’m excited because they are always good!

H and I are doing bits of final preparation today. As I prayed this morning 2 bits from the lectionary readings struck me –

Ephesians 3:10 talks about a church that displays God’s wisdom.  That’s the goal!  That’s one of the main reasons we do missional communities and all the training events.

Psalm 107 has a repeated refrain:  “they cried out to the Lord and he delivered them…”. God’s wisdom,  God’s glory is so often displayed by turning back to him.  By changing minds, and living differently. 

I’m hopeful that the learning community tonight and tommorrow will give lots of opportunity for our communities, and for the churches joining in with us, to turn to God, to change minds, to stretch into new ways of living.  Then maybe we’ll better display God’s wisdom so that even more people will realise they can cry out to him in their distress and experience his rescue.

You can find out more about learning communities and the people who have helped us with them here.

Undermining Entitlement

My sense of entitlement is one of the things that most often undermines my desire to do good.  

Too often I start to feel that I deserve to be treated better than I have been, or that I have earned the right to some treat of one kind or another.

Too often know that when things are going well I start to think I’m getting what is owed to me. When things don’t go so well I usually just get grumpy.

So how do I undermine the work of entitlement in my life?  I have found these 3 things help:

Gratefulness:  Reminding myself to say thank you, to people,  to God,  to to the bird or tree or sunrise I am enjoying.  Practicing being grateful reminds me that every good thing I have is a gift.

Service:  Choosing to do something simple for someone else,  ideally that won’t be noticed or appreciated,  really helps.  I realised this recently when I was wallowing in a particularly deep “things should be better than this” pit.  Rescue from that particular moment came as I decided to do the washing up.

Generosity:  Giving to others,  especially if it is a little bit costly and might mean I have to give  something up,  really helps.  It begins to move my focus from the ecomony of earning – based on what I get get and hold on to ,  to the economy of grace – freely giving and receiving what comes from God.

How are you overcoming entitlement?