Jesus’ Revolution from the Margins

Jun 22

Some words from The Christ.

Blessings on the poor in spirit! The kingdom of heaven is yours.

Blessings on the mourners! You’re going to be comforted.

Blessings on the meek! You’re going to inherit the earth.

Blessings on people who hunger and thirst for God’s justice! You’re going to be satisfied.

Blessings on the merciful! You’ll receive mercy yourselves.

Blessings on the pure in heart! You will see God.

Blessings on the peacemakers! You’ll be called God’s children.

Blessings on people who are persecuted because of God’s way! The kingdom of heaven belongs to you.

Blessings on you, when people slander you and persecute you, and say all kinds of wicked things about you falsely because of me!  Celebrate and rejoice: there’s a great reward for you in heaven. That’s how they persecuted the prophets who went before you; (Matthew 5:3-12)

The @twurchsteward and I have been listening to Tom Wright’s The Day The Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion as an audiobook and comparing notes.  I say “comparing notes” but in reality we’ve been having lengthy conversations about God’s Kingdom and how we are called as a church to be the “image bearers” of that Kingdom.  We are called to be a church that reflects the Kingdom of God into the world in the here and now.  After all, we daily pray “your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as in Heaven” and that has to mean something.

This morning I catch the (ridiculously!) early train to London to a further meeting of the Archbishop’s Estates Evangelism Task Group.  And as I pack my bag I have the words of Tom Wright ringing in my ears from chapter 10.

The key thing about so many of these “blessings” is that they demonstrate the way in which God’s kingdom will actually be put into operation: through the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the justice-hungry people, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the people who are prepared to face persecution and slander because, of their commitment to the way Jesus is pioneering. Some of these characteristics are more obviously “active” – the justice-hungry people, the merciful, the peacemakers – but the entire package is what matters. God’s sovereign rule will come to birth through people like this. They will learn to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world (5:13-16). They will learn the way of forgiveness and reconciliation (5:21-26), the way of purity (5:27-32), the way of truthfulness (5:33-27). And, in particular, as chapter 5 comes to its climax, they will learn the way of nonviolence, the way of love for enemies and prayer for persecutors (5:38-48). They will turn the other cheek; they will go the second mile; they will allow someone to strip them of both shirt and cloak. And they will thereby demonstrate that they truly are children of their Father in heaven (5:39, 41, 40, 45).’

So often those of us who live and breathe on the estates are viewed as a problem that needs to be fixed.  The outer estates are often seen as a forsaken place to which people can go to bring the good news, money, affluence and a better lifestyle.  Our society has an historic sense of Victorian paternalism in which the haves can stoop down to the level of the have-nots and bestow good things upon them, do good ‘to’ and ‘for’ them rather than with them.  But here in Tom Wright’s vision of Jesus Revolution he is once again insisting that the topsy turvy Kingdom of God does not arrive at the platform we were expecting.  Here he suggests that Jesus is instituting a Kingdom brought about by those very people you’d least expect.  A world renewed from the margins.

If we can recognise this within our midst that is truly revolutionary!

So tomorrow we go once more to pull together as a group embedded in and working with those places on the edge.  We call the wider church not only to invest in those fringe places but to recognise and seek what those places bring to the wider body.  To become a church that nurtures those who live in the forgotten places.  We’re not calling for a fix.  We are calling for the church to have vision to set people free to get involved with the mission God is already on in the places often deemed “too challenging” or worse “unimportant”.

If the Church of England is to play any part in the renewal of Christian life in this nation, it will come from the edges, from the margins, from the forgotten, and from the poor. – Philip North

A Creative’s Lament

Jun 11

Northern Spain in the Sun

I inherited a little bit of money so I am awaiting the delivery of a new camera.  I’ve been into photography for about 12-13 years now.  I have various equipment but I predominantly use a Canon DSLR.  As I sit here I realise that I’m going to have to relearn a lot of what I do.  The buttons will be in different places and it will have a different workflow.  Having an eye for a shot will be the same.  Composition, framing, focus, exposure and depth of field will all be the same, if I can find the buttons to use them on a newer camera.

Workflow is a necessary evil to enable the creative process to happen.  Whether it be a new piece of music gear or a piece of video editing software.  I feel like I spend more time working out how to use new buttons in new locations to do the same things I was doing before.

Sanctum 2018 – Come and Be Involved. #Pioneer

Jun 6

Come and experience a Church Year all within a few days!

24th-26th July 2018

Summer is nearly here and that means we are approaching Sanctum 2018! This is a fantastic retreat/gathering or sacramental alt:worshippers. If you have never been to The Community of the Resurrection, it takes place in the idyllic monastic setting of The Community of the Resurrection in the heart of the Pennines!This year we are exploring the seasons so you can expect a bit of Christmas, a bit of Easter and a bit of…. All of the seasons.What can you expect? Some new ways of engaging with worship. Every year, I find that someone introduces me to God in a new and exciting way. Some of those ways inform how we do it back in our own context – but that doesn’t mean it’s just for ordained ministers. Whether you lead worship or just want to come along and experience something different, this is for you!

The collaborative nature of Sanctum means that you can bring your own prayer station with you or get involved with acts of worship that other people are creating!  If you’ve always wanted to get involved but don’t know where to start, this is a really encouraging space to do that in.

Sanctum is a great space to explore where God is leading us as creative people who find Him in the sacraments. It is a place to be inspired to experiment with new ideas in the coming years. – Participant from 2017

There are also opportunities to share throughout the week with workshops and the obligatory socialising.

And the shameless plug is that Metanoia are doing the Christmas Service with added Rock!!

The Woman at The Well – Worship Resources

Nov 20

Last night at the Rock Mass we were looking at the interaction between Jesus and the Woman at the Well.  I know someone who works for Yorkshire Water so we had an installation of a stand pipe in the centre of church.  This linked in with the use of the well known “to be known is to be loved” monologue.

For the confession we used Holy Water by Inglorious.  As the God’s forgiveness was pronounced, the priest sprinkled the congregation with the holy water from underneath the standpipe.  After exploring what it means for God to welcome in the outsider, the stranger and the alien, we wrote our prayers on the giant blue paper cross with chalk whilst Metanoia played Where the Street’s Have No Name.

Alternative Hymnal – Holy Water, Inglorious

Oct 26

I’ve realised we’ve added a few regular songs to our hymnody at Rock Mass with Metanoia. I really should put together a playlist so that everyone can listen in between services.

This is Holy Water from Inglorious’ debut album.  We discovered Inglorious last year supporting the Winery Dogs before they had released their first album.  They were jaw droppingly amazing!  We preordered the album as we were leaving!  Proper rock with amazing vocals.  We’ve ended up playing Holy Water in Silverthorn too!

We’ve only tweeked the words slightly for services.

Help me, I’m in trouble I’ve fallen to my knees, yeah

I pray you’ll give me something, my soul it is in need.


Oh, I don’t stand proud, as my Lord He washes me

I drown, Your water’s holy, my soul it is diseased.


Holy water, take my soul take me

No, love ain’t where it’s at, but it’s all, all I need


Been tried and tested, the world it comes for me

It put me in the gutter, I long to be free


Holy water, take my soul take me

No, love ain’t where it’s at, but it’s all, all I need

The Book of Common Prayer

Oct 12

Last week I discovered the work of Michael Leunig, cartoonist, poet and writer.  I quickly fell down the rabbit hole and became hooked.  FuelledByTea pointed me towards Leunig’s prayers.  The rabbit hole deepened.  At Harvest Festival at Holy Nativity on Sunday we used this one during the service:

Dear God,

We rejoice and give thanks for earthworms,
bees, ladybirds and broody hens;
for humans tending their gardens, talking to animals,
cleaning their homes and singing to themselves;
for rising of the sap, the fragrance of growth,
the invention of the wheelbarrow and the existence of the teapot,
we give thanks. We celebrate and give thanks.


After I had discovered the prayers, Jon Birch fell into the rabbit hole with me on Facebook and the whole thing escalated.  Dave Walker joined in and mentioned Leunig’s books.  Well here we are.  The post is arriving and I have replaced the Book of Common Prayer with Leunig’s A Common Prayer.  Spiritually uplifting.  A tonic for the soul.

Neolithic Persuits

Sep 29

We have spent an inordinate amount of our adult lives travelling around Northern Europe in search of Neolithic artefacts. We’ve done most of that on the back of a Harley. We’ve been all over Shetland, Orkney, The Outer Hebrides and various sites in mainland Britain. Two years ago when we toured around northern Spain and up through France we stopped at Carnac to see the alinement with field after field of standing stones. Of all the places we have visited, Stonehenge was the least entertaining experience.

So far we have spent a week in Brittany riding from monument to monument. They are so frequent here we’re deciding which ones we have time to visit. We’ve yet to see a monument used as a fence post like we did in Shetland but we have seen at least one in someone’s back garden.

This afternoon we visited Les Mégalithes de Monteneuf. We sat in the midst of the six thousand year old stones and The Bassplayer™ turned to me and said:

Stonehenge is rubbish. Here we are in the midst of this enormous stone structure, it was free to enter and we are the only two people here! I’m not having to look over someone’s shoulder whilst they take photos of it from behind a fence.

I tend to agree with her.

The Communion Meal

Sep 19

The communion meal is a service we have held at Holy Nativity for the last three years.  It is a communion service in reverse.  It is a place for all ages to gather together around God’s table, to share bread and wine together, to eat together, to explore the bible together and to pray together.  It is a place to participate in a family meal with the body of Christ.

The main thing to get right with the communion meal is the setting and the ambiance.  The table is set for dinner with a table cloth, placemats and cutlery.  We often have bible readings printed and put into plastic menu holders.  We begin with the Eucharistic prayer and pass the consecrated bread and wine around the table from one to another.  Then food is served.  We talk about our lives and our journeys as Christians.  A bible reading is shared.  There is no teaching as such, more a guided conversation where people explore the scriptures in relation to the modern world, their experiences and lives.

This is the most fascinating part.  Young children and pensioners and everyone in between discussing faith together.  Eight year old’s asking profound questions of adults and stretching them to think.  Adults learning from children and children learning from adults.  The dinner table puts everyone on an even footing.

Sometimes there are other activities to do during the meal.  Perhaps something that relates to the prayers.  Confession and prayer often come from the discussion.  Sometimes led by me, the priest.  Sometimes led by others around the table.  It is an environment that allows people to explore spirituality.

We’ve been holding monthly services like this for over three months.  Various people who come cook food.  We have had as many as forty (and the food stretched that far) but a core group of about 15.  The month that we had forty we had 15 asylum seekers come along unexpectedly.  The conversations across culture were fantastic as people learned from each other’s lives.  A medical doctor fleeing from Iran sharing with us how he couldn’t use his medical skills in the UK and was living on next to nothing.

For three years, I’ve had people ask for the resources we use.  I keep meaning to put them up here but run out of time.  There is a placemat which we have laminated.  It has all of the essential bits of the liturgy for people around the table.  I also have a word document of the key pieces of the liturgy for the priest.  I run it off a tablet but you could easily print it off.

A big thanks to Revd Jonnie Parkin who helped me think through some of the issues the Communion Meal raises.  I visited the Luminous Community in Lincoln where we both started holding services like this at the same time.  His wisdom enabled our community to develop a wonderful sense of community and I value his shared good practice.

PDF Placemats No Logo

Document Communion Meal Placemats Wording

Communion Meal Liturgy Priest