unholy three

pierced_trinity-_patrick_colhounloads of things have been happening over last few weeks and I have lots of blog posts written in my head which need to find their way via my keyboard to this space …. but time and inclination to write is limited … but

well …. I’ve only come here today really to signpost to the blog of my good, great and amazing friend Andrea. She has blogged here today an amazing poem. Go read!

That is all!

i remember …

perichoresisTwice this week I have had the fortune to visit Moot and meet up with Ian, as my mentor, and catch up with other Moot friends.

Last week 4 of us got together as Ordained Pioneer Ministers to talk about stuff … spiritual reflection, funding, publicising what we are doing … and other pioneer support stuff. This group has only met once and I already love being part of it. It is so refreshing to be part of a group that is innovative and creative. I cannot put into words the relief I feel knowing that in this group I will not have to explain, again, what a pioneer is, or correct a misunderstanding of what a pioneer is (no … we are not simply good parish priests that have a bit of extra time to play and create!)

It frustrates me that I have been ordained over 4 years as an OPM and still people don’t get it …… but I guess I am partly to blame in that I am not communicating it clearly enough!

This afternoon I was at Moot again as part of a group looking at  an Acknowledged Religious Community Discernment Group. This will be a group that is a resource and support to those going down the new monastic group. I think this group will be key and beneficial to the gathering should they choose to go this way. This kind of stuff excites me and I am really pleased to be part of something like this in its beginnings.

It was great to be able to join Moot for worship for a little bit before I had to rush off for the train (Weekend engineering works always happen on a  Sunday!!!) and I finished Moot Compline on the High Speed to Strood which raised an eyebrow or two!

These last few days with two visits to Moot have really reminded me what I am about, and what I feel is at the centre of me. This thing about intentional community, echoing the trinitarian community that is God, really grabs my gut, inspires me and encourages me to keep going. The perichoresis is what it’s all about for me!  (i’m not linking to anything … look it up!) It’s a worry how quickly I forget!

first principles podcast

The recording of Ian’s talk from his book launch last week is now on the Moot podcast page, along with a link to download a pdf copy of his slides.

… so go listen

and you can but the book here …. go read!

from Coffee to Perichoresis

It was great to get back into London yesterday … met up with Richard in Bar Italia (amazingly good coffee and vibe and well worth a visit!) and had a little wander around before making my way over to Ian’s book launch.

I enjoyed the evening on a number of fronts. It was good to meet up with Moot friends that I have not seen for far too long! It was good, as always, to hear from Ian who spoke well and both challenged and encouraged. It was good to meet up with others who are simply trying and asking similar questions about church, life and the universe!

Ian spoke about the Trinity, perichoresis and dancing with God. He shared his view on how Christians in the west have lost sight of relationship with a Trintarian, communal God. I agree with much of what Ian said …. if we can experience more of the Trinity, which by the very nature is community, then this can only aid us better as we attempt, as church, to reach out to and engage with a very individualistic society that simply craves the experience of community, but has no idea to achieve it. If God is community, and we engage in that community, people find God meeting their need.

Experiencing, rather than just learning about, the Trinitarian God … Trinitarian theologyis, says Ian, key to recovering a depth of relationship (in church and society) that has been missing for so long.

Anyway … God Unknown, by Ian Mobsby … go buy!

Returning to first principles

I am really looking forward to being at the launch of Ian Mobsby’s new book on Thursday evening at the London Centre of Spirituality  – it looks like it will be a great couple of hours so why not come along too?

I am in the incredibly lucky situation to have Ian as a mentor. Since being placed with Ian many years ago at Moot while training on SEITE I have been meeting with Ian regularly to chat about what I do. Ian has been a great support and a great challenger … as every good mentor should be.

What I have really appreciated about our relationship, apart from Ian’s friendship and honesty, has been the way Ian has explored this whole role of the Trinity in mission. Sometimes he has blown my mind, or confused me, or challenged me. It has all been good stuff as part of the write up says here:

‘In this presentation, Ian Mobsby explores a central theme of his new book ‘God Unknown: The Trinity in contemporary Spirituality and Mission’.  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’. 

So … as I said above … come along …. you won’t regret it!

reflecting forward

I had an interesting journey this morning to the Sisters of St Andrew in Edenbridge to meet up with Sister Diane who I hope will by my new spiritual director.

It was an interesting journey to Edenbridge as this was the location for our pre-ordination retreat 3 years ago before we became deacons. We spent 4 days here in this community as we prepared and thought more about what was happening.

The hours car journey inevitably caused me to reflect on the highs and lows of the last 3 years. I guess I used a vague Ignation model as I looked across the last 3 years of my (ordained) ministry.

I am not too surprised, but I was struck by how a number of ‘highs’ in the 3 years have been those times when I have got to meet and start to new people. I have counted it a real privilege how certain people have welcomed me as a person, and how we have started to get to know each other and possibly slowly starting that process fo becoming friends. This process has naturally been a two way thing – with people sharing things together, expressing joys, sharing pains which means making ourselves vulnerable, and therefore, trusting each other.

There is something of our humanity that is expressed in this both welcoming and vulnerability that enables relationships and friendships to develop. I think there is something very human and something very divine about this … and I wonder if in some way this echoes, all but dimly, the trinitarian relationship that is God. I found myself wondering in the car on the way home whether human vulnerability leading to friendship in relationship is a dim reflection of the mutuality of the trinity?

If we are created in the Image of God, can the perichoresis of the Trinity be dimly reflected in some way? And .. if so … how?

mystery

Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday, and I was on the rota to preach.

I have heard endless sermons that have tried to explain the Trinity. I have heard the Trinity described as something like a jaffa cake, or something like steam, water and ice; or like one person who can be mum, sister and daughter.

I guess there is something in each of those analogies (well maybe not the jaffa cake one!) but I think that sometimes they, and we, miss the point.

God being three and yet one does not make sense. God being three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is mind boggling. It’s a mystery.

In our limited human understanding and vocabulary we are trying to describe a life that is totally outside of our experience or even our wildest dreams. In short, we are trying to describe what is indescribable for us. God is Trinity … and that’s that!

I shared on Sunday a visit I made a spart of my training with SEITE to the Chatham synagogue. We met the person in charge called Gabriel. I had developed a question during the week but now I cannot remember the question; but his answer has stayed with me for nearly 6 years now! He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said ‘God will be God.’ As he said it he gave a look that simply said ‘why are you bothering to even ask that? It’s a mystery … it’s meant to be a mystery … God is God!’

Within church, and maybe even in society, I wonder whether we have got bogged down in trying to explain everything. I guess this comes from a need or desire to be in control. In our pondering over trying ‘to work it out’ we are in danger of missing out on simply enjoying life and being who we were created to be.

AS an illustration I have noticed a big difference between children and adults at art exhibions. In particular I remember the Shibboleth of Doris Salcedo in the Tate Modern a few years ago. Adults looked and tried to explain it, wondering whether it was a trick and how it was made. Children played in it, stuck their hands and legs inside it, and enjoyed it. Adults tried to explain while children accepted the beauty of the mystery.

There is a tension in accepting mystery when you live in a 21st century technological world – but I wonder whether it is a tension we need to relax into so that we can ‘enjoy’ rather than miss the beauty as we attempt to ‘explain’.