The Monastery Revisited

I’ve been to a few churches around town and they just annoy the **** out of me because they’re so fake, and the people look so lost, and the people on the stage just look so plastic and so charming and so seductive, and I just think ‘I don’t believe in these people’. These people are not an expression of faith. So, I’d much rather just slip into a church and sit there for 10 minutes and have a bit of quiet time, or pray at home. I don’t feel that you necessarily have to turn up at a certain place at a certain time dressed in a certain way to express your faith and live out your faith. I think there’s other ways of doing it.

I am once again inspired by this BBC 2 Series ‘The Monstery”, and this is the experience of church of a genuinely seeking spiritual guy. His experience is far from unique, and this is important.

What is next for the Morning Service


Last Sunday our morning congregation had lunch together and we talked about where our service was going. We had a really good conversation, and you can read the notes from it here:
What is next for the morning Service

Responses and further thoughts are welcome below. My plan is to draw these ideas together into a statement of vision, and present this to both services as part of our vision seeking exercise.

Creative Consultants


We have set up a part of this website for creative ideas for church, a place to throw ideas around, or ask for advice. I hope it will be a resource for our service leaders or any of you involved in communicating, and a way of continuing our pursuit of authentic creative worship.
It is moderated by some of the experienced creatives in church so you can throw ideas at them, or seek their wisdom on how to do stuff better…

Answers


Bit tired this morning because I sat up way too late last night answering questions on Yahoo’s new Answers forum. It is quite an interesting concept – people get to ask any question they like, whether it is about their homework, or about the existence of God, and then others answer them and you can vote on the best answer.
As ever with these online discussions there is plenty on nonsense, but I am intrigued by the possibilities.

I think this might be a great idea for the church website – what do you think?

I haven’t found the technology to implement something like this. Does anyone have any suggestions?

a short film about prayer


We have been doing better at being creative this term at COTC, the service leaders have been taking initiatives, and that has had inspired lots of others. Jeremy made a short film about prayer, a beautiful simple piece of work drawing on the image of a message in a bottle.
He writes…
‘I think the message in a bottle makes a interesting metaphor for prayer, because it is simultaneously a symbol of both hope and desperation. The castaway on a desert island resorts to messages flung into the outgoing tide because there is no other way to communicate. And at the same time, there’s hope as that message is thrown into the sea – hope that someone will find it, that someone will send help. It’s a last hope and an only hope. And it’s going to take patience. It’s a symbol of hopeful waiting, and faith in eventual rescue’.

Blue sky


One of the questions we have been asking ourselves as part of the vision team is this.
‘If you were to start church from scratch how would it look.’

I know this may seem theoretical, and of course we need to be practical, but I want us to have at least tried to think how we might be, rather than just trying to fix what we have.

I wonder how you would answer the question?

Coralie Grace Davids


We are desperately sad at the news of Anthony and Peachy’s tragedy.

Thank you to all of you who have promised to pray throughout the day.

Even if you can only pray for them for a few minutes at your given time we want the Davids to know they are surrounded by our prayers. Please set a reminder. If you are not on the list email me and I will allocate you a time.

6am Claire Pearson
7am Liz Tissing
7.30am Pete Burnham
8am Gemma Gent
8.30am Tom Crease
9am Ruth Crease
10am B Arnold
11am Sarah Perrin
11.30am Stavroulla Andreou
12pm Sarah Wall
1pm Ellie Welsh
1.30pm Jayne Welburn
2pm Jo Arkell
2.30pm Angela Fletcher
3pm Jane Love
4pm Amy Winger
5pm Danny and Kirsty Allen
6pm Sophia Hanvey
6.30pm Willow Kail
7pm Claire Dean
8pm Vicky Mirfin
8.30pm Sonya & Nick Sireau
9pm Alex Goldfinch
9.30pm Michele and Terence Berry
10pm James Mortley
10.30pm Sarah Hulcoop
11pm Mark Fletcher
12am Dan & Summer Passerelli
1am Elizabeth Cameron

Vision

As you may be aware we are in the process of reworking the vision and direction of our Evening Service at the moment, and we would value your prayers. As part of that we would be interested in your responses to a couple of questions…

If our goal is making and maturing disciples, are we right in thinking that we tend to put much more emphasis on maturing than making? Is that important?

How appropriate is it for a church to focus its energy and attention on reaching a particular section of our community (eg in our case young, professional, educated)?

If you are not aware of Kurt Vonnegut you should …


If you are not aware of Kurt Vonnegut you should be. His article in the Guardian last saturday was fantastic writing. Speaking of the hypocrisy in American politics he writes:
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

Enjoy the article.

Chaos Theology: Fear


I really enjoyed this piece written by Jo, which ellie performed in response to the question What do I fear?

I’ve reached the conclusion that what I fear most is constantly chasing down the many things in life which seem to be in perpetual motion – my career for one. What if I never get where I want to be? What if I’m just not good enough? When is my boss going to see through the act and realise I don’t actually know what I’m doing? My career has a life of its own, running away from me like a load of marbles dropped on the floor. I chase them but there are always more to be retrieved, and the more I get hold of, the more there are to chase. I’m afraid that the only way to stop the game is to let go of all the glass balls – just let them roll away. But what then? What would I do with myself then?

You can read the whole piece here.

‘Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion’


Perhaps you have read Polly Toynbee’s passionate article on the new Narnia film. Well worth a read. It is not one of her more measured responses, and all the more interesting for that.

Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus’s holy head every day that you don’t eat your greens or say your prayers.

The article gives some real insight into Polly Toynbee’s real issues with abusive religion, which we want to be hugely sympathetic to.

The two dons may have shared the same love of unquestioning feudal power, with worlds of obedient plebs and inferior folk eager to bend at the knee to any passing superior white persons – even children; both their fantasy worlds and their Christianity assumes that rigid hierarchy of power – lord of lords, king of kings, prince of peace to be worshipped and adored.

But essentially this is a power struggle between conservatism and liberalism, and christianity is caught up in it. I don’t think we want the agenda of Jesus associated with that power struggle, and in order to do that any conversation will have to be humble about the failings of the church in the past and its throwing its substantial weigh behind political and social conservatism. However the crucial issue is this:

So Lewis weaves his dreams to invade children’s minds with Christian iconography that is part fairytale wonder and joy – but heavily laden with guilt, blame, sacrifice and a suffering that is dark with emotional sadism.

Interwoven with that struggle however is a philosophical debate. Scientific humanism will allow no limits to be placed on human power and potential. Here we need to disagree. Pollys humanism is her weakness – her privilege and education, social standing and personal stature make her naive about the reality of human experience. We are guilty, we do suffer – the answer is not education (though that is a profound good) we do need redemption – but trying to help Polly to see that is a massive task, particularly given her experiences.

Quake Gig

Last night we hosted one of a series of Quake Gigs in aid of the victims of the South east Asia earthquake. It was an amazing night, with a wonderful mix of homegrown talent and special guests. Enjoy these video clips.

More photo’s and video to follow (email me pictures if you have them), but thank you to all the artists, and to all of you who came and enjoyed and gave generously.

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