Showing posts from September, 2008

reading blogs

I have been procrastinating like never before today. I have two assignments to write, due last friday, and though the grief of Nanna's death is still haunting, I should really be able to write them. However, what I have been doing is not entirely fruitless, as it's part of the debriefing process following the trip to the UK. I read some blogs, to see what others have been thinking this week, and my own thoughts were sparked, a bit along the same lines, a bit in tangents and on hobby horses of my own. Responding to Cheryl Lawrie’s blog of 24 SeptemberMaybe it won’t be good for the church – maybe this uncertainty, diversity in how we gather as community is so confronting that it has to happen outside the church, and the church will lose out? If we’re doing these things for the good of the church, are we not doing them for entirely the wrong reason? And maybe that’s where we/the church has gone in an unhelpful direction, thinking about what will be good for the church, what will …

art and spirituality

here's some interesting thoughts ...

NOBS gathering workshops and worship

EEEK - I've just asked if I can be one of three people to be tellers in a master class with Pam Faro, key note speaker at the gathering. Three people in the class will prepare a 4 - 7 minute story to tell, and then be picked apart in front of an audience. what am i thinking? 
I've also nominated for workshops about embodying story, and imagery in story (which I'm doing with a double purpose, having identified a weakness when it comes to imagery in my poetry ...). I've put down a second choice of hearing from Urban Seed, an intentional Christian residential community in the heart of Melbourne, offering hospitality to all and walking alongside some people who really need the support of their neighbours.  This is doing church really alternatively! Wish I could do this workshop too, but I think that the first choice at a storytelling gathering should be about practically improving my storytelling ... mmm. 
And I just realised that because I have to fly in after my Friday mor…

ACLA workshop

About 18 men and women who work in church libraries in various locations and denominations across Australia spent just under an hour with me yesterday thinking about healing through Biblical story. If you've been keeping up with this blog, I've been preparing for this workshop for months, off and on, so it was great that the time had come. I told the story of Naaman, Elisha and Gehazi from 2 Kings 5.  We talked about it and discovered this story telling us of an inclusive God, who welcomes those who seek God; the way we are involved in our own healing / discovery of God, putting up barriers or giving ourselves over to the mystery of the Spirit; the way we are involved in helping or hindering others in their search for God, wholeness/ healing; the consequences of undermining the work of the Spirit - we will diminish others, tarnish grace, separate ourselves from God.  We discovered links from this story to the wider story of Elisha, Elija and the Kings of Israel and Judah; to the…

I woke up this morning ...

I awoke at 4am this morning, inexplicably, and then my brain decided to do some work.

I've been thinking about the groups we met in the UK, and what their stories of gathering and connecting with the Sacred and each other have taught me. I was also thinking jazz, as I do, but particularly having rediscovered Jamie Cullum's album Twenty something, that I lost years ago, and having met to begin planning the next Black Wood Jazz space yesterday afternoon. 
I was also recollecting the talk given at greenbelt by Phillip Roderick - some of the things he said include: the image of community mirrors that of a jazz band, with its delicate balance of personalities, each individual and each group learning the best of the past and adding our own personal vision. One has to understand one's own role in the group  well enough to improvise.  Philip spoke of three elements of a jazz musician: respect for tradition (learning not merely repeating); respect for other players, allowing each perso…

uk trip photos

photos have now been added to some blogs from the uk trip - including photos of me ... enjoy!

UK trip blogging complete

To those of you who actually read this blog, and have been waiting for me to finish the blogs about my trip to the UK to visit communities - it is done. 
I imagine there will be more to come as I put together reports for college and church groups, and as I get photos from friends (my camera conked out), I'll add them too. 
In the mean time, I have put the blogs up with dates accordingly, so you'll need to wade through, or use the links to read what I've written on various topics. 
Thanks for reading my blog, for your support and interest in the trip, and your own connections with the Holy. I look forward to hearing responses to the thoughts I've written down.

workshop this weekend

I'm up to final preparations for the workshop on healing through Biblical stories, for the Australian Church Library Association, this Sunday. I must say, I am very glad that I put in so much work on this one in the mid year break, even though I didn't get much rest, because with the trip o/s and Nanna's death a couple of weeks ago, all I have to do is refamiliarise myself with the material, and edit it down for a 45 minute slot. Oh, and learn the story. Again, I'm glad of foresight, having chosen a story that i read in chapel at college earlier this year, read but almost had learnt to tell.  And it's coming together quite well, I'm pleased to say.  questions I was going to invite people to ponder I won't have time to ask, so I'm going to put them on the worksheet and as they arrive, people can have a quick think about them. I think they'll be most helpful to me, though, in the back of my mind as the things I hope to help people discover ... or someth…

re: beer & hymns at greenbelt

[pic: Michelle Coram]
see greenbelt 7 On reflection, having sat through beer and hymns a second time, with those theologically disastrous lyrics of a patriarchal age, and witnessed drunk and not so drunk people raising beers - to what? God? the songs? themselves? the beer and hymns experience? - and having had numerous conversations with greenbelters, i begin to wonder, is that really church? I don't suggest that beer should necessarily be absent from worship, or that we shouldn't sing together to God, in or out of pubs. Rather, that hundreds of people singing outdated songs with poor theology they probably do not subscribe to can hardly constitute worship, or really, an experience I would choose to participate in again. To celebrate those hymns, those views about God is not to celebrate the God I encounter personally, is not to connect in an authentic way with the Spirit, is not, I don't believe, to honour Christ. It was fun for a moment, once, I will admit, but hashing ove…

Pilgrimage - reflecting on the UK trip

In my journey to the UK there was an element of pilgrimage - to the sacred sites of a revered, loved, cultural icon. In the days between Greenbelt and meeting the Safe Space community, I had performed my own ritual walking of the streets of Stratford-on-Avon. Here, I had been moved by the mere fact of being in this place, the site of much imagination and dreaming. 
Mark Berry described pilgrimage as one of the central elements of the community he and Lou have gathered around their table in Telford. Pilgrimages to sacred sites associated with the saint who inspires their mission approach, everyday pilgrims on the way of Christ. And as I reflect on the influence of this approach on this community and its members, who take seriously the everyday nature of life as pilgrimage, as engaging in the mission of God in the world, does the UCA take for granted its identity as a pilgrim people on the way? Or do we take it seriously?  What might it mean to embrace this identity, to engage in an every…

pubs, churches and English community

On the plane home, John showed me an interesting article - or column piece, interesting in light of the number of beers we'd shared with people in the UK - in homes and in pubs. It posed this question for me: 
Is English community fracturing because of pubs & churches, or is it fracturing out of their control? 
You can read it here.

Debriefing at the pub - 2 September

I've mentioned in a previous blog about dinner with Steve Collins, so I'll just mention briefly the other beer drinking we did on our last day in London. 
We went to another pub, where the boys had been while we did our women's business, and did a bit of debriefing together. 
There's still stuff to add, but overall, I thought it was great to hear stories of diverse communities embracing less formal and less traditional ways of being community gathering as part of the body of Christ. 
My main question concerning ordained ministry, its shape and role in is unanswered still, though there has been much to inform my thinking about the possibilities. This thinking will no doubt remain unfinished, even when it is time to retire ...

women and leadership

The girls in the group went across the road to a pub to talk with Jenny Baker, who has initiated the Sophia network for supporting and mentoring female youth workers. Sparked a lively conversation about women in leadership in 
The Sophia network is a great example for women in other contexts to, having identified problems in having our story told, get together and address those issues and work towards breaking down the barriers. They are working primarily with women themselves, but are opening up conversation with men too, which is important because without their understanding, change will never happen. 
I think we, women that is, need to be good at acknowledging the men who are working in effective partnerships in leadership with women, to affirm such partnership and encourage more of it. Rather than perhaps taking it for granted as what should be - which it should - but actually naming it when it happens, so that it becomes an example, a model, for others.

Grace - 2 September

Tuesday morning I returned to St Paul's and met Anna. I hadn't seen her for ages. She took the morning off to visit St Paul's with me, and then we went to Leicester Square to see all the theatres, and had lunch. I was very glad to have been able to make time to spend with my old friends in London. 
Still negotiating trains solo, I detoured past the hotel to pack, then headed off to South Ealing. Met up with others on the train, and in dribs and drabs at South Ealing station. We walked up to the church where Grace happens for a chat with Jonny Baker, who helps lead grace and works for CMS. This is a group involved in mission, and Jonny manages some Fresh Expression projects, including Mark Berry & Safe Space

picture - jonny, rob & cheryl in church in south ealing [pic: Michelle Coram]

I like the model of leadership the Jonny and later Steve Collins talked about - I wonder if the vicar could be more actively supportive? They seem to manage, though. I've heard Stev…

chapter for thesis

Had a thought re: thesis - ask the question of ordained/lay leadership; how the church ensures appropriate leadership for communities gathering in its name, so as to authentically live as the people of God in the world ... but I can't remember what prompted that thought??

London - The Globe!

here's another deviation from the intended purpose of the trip, and another Shakespeare pilgrimage. 
I was so exhausted when we left Manchester - was probably really rude to people who wanted to chat when all I wanted was to disappear into a hole on my own.  However, I got a message from Richard, saying he'd got tickets for Midsummer Night's Dream and did my spirits lift! Will must have been pulling strings for this devoted fan from Oz!  So we arrived at Heathrow, got the tube to Gloucester Road, walked 5 minutes to the Hotel, and even though I was visibly shattered (comments from others in the group), I showered, changed and headed off on my own to the Globe Theatre, Bankside, London. It's 200m down from the actual site of the two 17th century Globe Theatres, the first of which burnt down after a spark from a cannon lit the thatched roof on fire. The second became derelict when puritan Sir-Somebody closed all theatres down later in the 17th century. Then it got pulled do…

Manchester - Nexus Cafe 1 September

After packing and checking out, storing our bags in Craig's room because he was staying on another night, we headed over to Nexus Cafe, where Sanctus 1 meet. It's in the basement of a Methodist church building, and has been given to Sanctus for this purpose. 
[pics: Michelle Coram]
Ben gave a rather formal presentation of what Sanctus' life has been. i was again struck by the need to take time to build relationships, in order to allow a community to form and to then  shape its gathered and spiritual life authentically. The cafe seems to offer a great point of connection for the community, for staff too, with Sanctus.  [pics: Craig Mitchell]
Art is part of what Sanctus/Nexus do, and they, as a community, have been humble enough to move through different phases of their life together, reshaping as necessary and appropriate for the life of the community.  Ben has recently been ordained in the Church of England, working half time in an Anglican church and half time with Sanctus. The…