Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 6

Diocese of Winchester

Session 6 is entitled “Theology of Giving – Part One” led by Peter Rouch, Phillip Cochrane and Peter Waddell.  This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos.

 

Truly God, Truly Me – Peter Waddell

Peter Waddell started by showing us some clips of happiness – Dolphins breeching, Nelson Mandela’s release, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon.  Fake it until you make it – don’t feel great about giving.  Bank balance looks good at the start of the month, but the mortgage, tax, water and energy companies, and then the car makes a funny noise, children aren’t into fasting and want to be fed – suddenly the number on the bank statements looks bad!

Average person gives £11.00 in the Winchester diocese in the week.  Probably giving money also elsewhere.  Michael Ramsey says: maybe you don’t really want to pray, but you can at least say you want to want to pray, or at least want to, to want, to want to give.  But a long way from that currently, it feels stressful, anxious and fearful.  So afraid of not having enough and clutch it to him.

How can I change?  How can I stop being anxious?  Peer pressure and guilt are the normal techniques to get more money but that just leads to resentment.  Jesus didn’t do guilt, so let’s start with the video clips we watched.  Think of whales leaping, Mandela walking from his cell into the sunlight, the Berlin wall tumbling down and people dancing on it, Andy Murray in the final championship point and how all those make you feel – and then you’re in the right place to start thinking about giving.

Great yes moments, getting married, swinging a grand child, hearing the birds tweet in the morning.  When everything wants you to shout, hug people for no good reason at all, just sheer unbounded joy at being alive.  William Wordsworth: “very heaven” – life like when lived close to God – vibrancy, energy, delight, love upon love – we see it in a glass darkly as we are just poor, cracked images of God.  But God is God, the one in whom there is no poverty, no cracking, simply love, joy and life.  He is the simple and eternal yes!  He is the roar of yes, which makes all things be, and raises the dead.

What would it be like for that great roar to roar through you?  What would our life look like if it was made you?  The glory of the gospel is that is not a hypothetical question, it is real, barring disaster it will happen.  The becoming is happening right now.  No matter how slow the progress, or how unreal it happens, this is coming, to make us what we were meant to always be – pure joy, pure yes.  Start thinking about your giving from there it is still difficult, frightening, but my god it is exciting, it has stopped being resentful, but joy.

Two questions to reflect on:

  • What makes your heart sing?
  • What does it mean to be in the image of God?

Truly Transformed – Peter Rouch

Christians are those who are learning on the journey we call discipleship, God’s invitation, “Be my disciple”.  Learning to give, as God gives, give themselves to one another, steady and careful listening.  Those who are learning to give rather than possess in personal relationships, learning to be good lovers, communion not satisfaction, learning to forgive, actively seek the well-being of your enemy.  Learning not to cling to possessions and money, but to use them freely.

It is the last one, the area of money, that Yahweh, our way is most incomprehensible.

[youtube id=”YUhb0XII93I” width=”580″ height=”337″]

Monty Python clip is funny because it is true.  There is incomprehension between the gospel and the world.  We need to be committed to the narrative in which we live.  The world is bound to the possessions, like a shipwrecked person hanging onto a bit of drift wood, the world is doing that with possessions.

Why should we give?  Because through that journey of discipleship God will unlock your prison.  Money is not the only area in which God will challenge you, but money is as Jesus said an important area.  Rather than clinging onto driftwood let us be generous, building up the mission of Jesus.  It is the insight behind the early church – whatever you have you do not need you give to the poor, and whatever you keep you are stealing from the poor.

Does that sound like a challenging note in your heart?  Hope so, because unless you’re perfect you aren’t listening.

Most of us are struggling in this area, we have attachment addiction to the things of this world – consumerism is probably our greatest addiction.  We believe we are quite simply consumers.  Other cultures must have their own bondages.  Beginning to address this bondage is one of the most profound steps we will take.  Most of us don’t so most Christians must be living in a semi permanent state of guilt.

We need to detach ourselves from the purpose of our culture, making us consumers, happiness is the abundance of our possessions.  Be not conformed by the world, but by the renewal of your mind.  Challenging words from Paul for us.  This will have consequences – Christians will live in smaller houses, drive cheaper cars, have less jewelry, drink less gin!  Being weaned from consumerism.  We should be moving to a different beat – but the world don’t see that.  Our money is to be an expression of divine love.

Not said who we should give to.  This journey, this giving is integral to the journey, what matters is who we are becoming, communion, and the furthering mission of Jesus.  The mission does require finance and so giving should include a key element to the church.  If we believe the gospel transforms lives, then we should want to give so they can experience this.  We should not give so we have a stipendary priest, an new community centre, an expensive organ – that may or may not be the answer – that is the test of communion and mission.  It might be our money is spent elsewhere on Jesus’ mission.  The better off we are the more we should expect this to be the case.

Being an Anglican is being part of a regional, a national, a international mission.  Merely paraochial giving that seeks what our community or even worse our congregation can get out of it is not what we are called to.

In each place where the signs of God become evident we can see the Spirit at work, so resources can help develop this.  Personal giving needs balance, but it is not just to fund the organisation, it is that you may truly be who God calls you to be and God’s mission goes forward.

Truly, Madly, Deeply – The Joy of Money – Phillip Cochrane

Imagine Gareth Bale comes and gives one third of his wage i.e. £100k how would that affect your wider giving?

6 years ago a group went to Stockholm, a church on the cusp of the business and red light areas.  A guy came along who was small, an introvert, with a way in which God shone through him.  He was addicted to seven forms of God – so you can either choose life or let yourself go.  In that moment he was healed of all the drug addictions at once!  Three years had passed since then, and most of the Deacons in the church were ex-drug addicts.  Caroline Baston said: “the glory of God is a human being who is fully alive.”

That is what we are about, human beings that are fully alive, so we need to do deal with the things that get in the way.  Bishop Tom says we need to become like God reflecting things, like that man in Stockholm.  Not bringing glory to God with how we use it, but also how it benefits the mission of God.

[youtube id=”cGEmlPjgjVI” width=”580″ height=”337″]

We have a parody in our advertising: “power to you” Vodafone, “because you’re worth it” L’ Oreal, “it’s all about you, have it your way” Burger King.  These messages disicple us, and so we need to see them as they are and address them.

Benedictine three key promises:

  • Stability
  • Obedience
  • Conversion

We need to allow ourselves to be shaped and moulded – often the last things we see converted are our wallets.  We need to embrace a bigger vision for what God wants us to become.  Becoming like Jesus.

In the process of doing this:

  • Regular: done as and when money comes in – weekly, monthly or other.
  • Reviewed: with direct debit etc. it is easy to forget to update the giving.
  • Proportional: came from a church in Northern Ireland where the giving was published – we do compare ourselves either in said or unsaid ways – maybe that church was more honest putting it in a written form – thought not the right way.  We are invited to go deeper with God and not worry about other people.  It is proportional to what has God given you.
  • Excessive: we need to be radically generous, be planned and strategic, but be spontaneous – write a cheque and think ouch later.  Showing God’s wild and reckless love.

Our giving individually and corporately we are saying something about the kingdom of God in our lives and what we make possible for the kingdom of God.

Need to know what Diocesan Synod thinks about giving and how that will affect the future of the Parish Share.  Completing a questionnaire, with discussion, and individuals sharing their own thoughts, and what most closely reflects their views.  Often don’t really agree with any position so tick which one most closely reflects.

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 5

Diocese of Winchester

Session 5 is the second session with Bishop Tom Wright.  This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos.

 

Change is a challenge of narrative – which script we live by, which story we live within.  Syria, and the incompetence of the Western powers to talk about it, let alone do anything illustrates this.  So many people in the West have a simplistic 18th century model of tyrants are bad, democracy good, get rid of tyrants, everything will work.  That was the script in Iraq, and it is not that easy, or right.  It comes across as a superior people acting as the world’s policeman who sees something bad and then drops bombs on people.  These scripts demonstrate the bankruptcy in the West, it is over simplified, but our stories have not kept pace with reality.  Technology has fed the myth that everything else we have is superior, the horse to bikes to cars, encourage us to feel a moral superiority – as though we are all signed up to an automatic narrative of progress.

We have lived on a parody of the story of God.  It is a ghastly, horrible, parody of the genuine biblical idea of theocracy.  Sounds like mad clergy with a hot line to heaven ready to kill anyone who gets in their way.  Who is the God?  A bully in the sky or the Jesus, crucified and risen, who we love.  The debate of resurrection, e.g. The Jesus Seminar, included a local women who worked in a morgue who testified that dead bodies stay dead!  Homer etc. all knew that.  It isn’t shutting our eyes to science, but saying we believe in a creator and re-creator.  Enlightenment shouldn’t focus on Voltaire etc. but Easter morning.   We need to find the place where the narratives painfully do business with each other.

Since the 18th century the churches in the Western world have regularly colluded with the enlightened world, saying heaven means a pace where people go when they die, bedeviling all our attempts to think missionally.  Some think mission is recruiting more souls to go to heaven, and others think producing better housing, drains, healthcare and more.  They never meet and yet that split isn’t in scripture.  We have backed off from the public square, and fail to attempt to think theocratically, leaving a vacuum which the media fill.  It is part of the church’s mission to speak truth to power, e.g. Jesus to Pontius Pilot and commissioning the church.  We reflect on Leveson and think the church does need to speak truth to power, the media don’t like it as we are claiming back the territory they have usurped.  We need a fresh navigation of this within the larger biblical narrative.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell their story as part of the Biblical narrative.  We tell it as God created us, we messed up, God sent Jesus to restore this.  This is only a third.  God created us to look after the garden, when we messed up, the garden went to ruin and we need to become gardeners.

Ephesians – prejudice is 19th century from liberal Anglicanism failing to see post-Enlightenment German understanding of what Paul should have said in Ephesians and Colossians.  If the Reformers had made Ephesians their key text rather than Galatians the world looks very different.  Ephesians 1:10, 2:10, and 3:10 to bring everything together under anew heaven and earth.  Principalities and powers of Paul’s world tried to flatten everything, similar to the huge concrete blocks used for housing in communist world.  God’s world is creative and beautiful.  A vision for unity, chapter 4, for holiness and marriage, chapter 5, for spiritual warfare, chapter 6.

Could learn Ephesians by heart, adding a verse at a day, some of you here are young enough to do that.

Rescue of creation, not rescue from creation – that’s Gnosticism which the western world flirts with.  Genesis 1 has complimentary pairings, humans working as God’s reflecting agents, reflecting his love to the world, and the moaning and pain back to God, cf. Revelation 4 and 5 – about what is happening as the church worships here on earth, all creation worshipping God, and humans summing up the word “because” you created, because you ransomed people for God.  That is our task – the royal priesthood – ruling the word as God’s stewards, humbling bringing his power, healing and more to bear on it.  If we’re not the Royal Priesthood we shouldn’t be here.

Genesis 3 it all goes horribly wrong.  Humans reflect the world back to the world, worshipping the creature not the creator.  We get the expulsion from the garden, as a Jew in exile or post-exile you know Genesis 3 is your story, having had a wonderful land and told to look after it, you messed up and sent to Babylon.  As Genesis 11 and 12 you have Babel – Babylon.  Cain the first murderer is the first ot build a city.  He knows we are to build community, but the city creates anonymity, fear and more.  The tower tries to reach up to heaven, and we are interrupted by God.

Genesis 12 God calls Abraham an nomad, not a city person.  That is the primary missionary mandate in the Bible.  In the 2008 Lambeth conference someone asked Rabbi Sacks how do you see the mission of the world?  He said how many Jews are there in China, there are 8 Jews, two things – first there will be 9 synagogues, and pretty soon someone will think they are running the country, how many Christians are in the country, you have done what we were meant to do.  You have taken the news of a covenant God to the ends of the earth.  Extraordinary humility but that is the Biblical vision and he knows it, do we.

It is one of the foundational insights in Genesis, the promises to Abraham mirror Adam.  The land was always an advance metaphor for the creators promise for the whole world.  Right from the start Abraham messes up, saying Sarah is his sister, then tries Hagar when having trouble having a child, then Ishmael mess, and so he has to learn in Genesis 22 the pain can only be resolved through death and resurrection in the sacrifice of Isaac.  They can’t be the promise bearers in a triumphant bossiness.  It was easy to take Israel out of Egypt, the hard thing is taking Egypt out of Israel.  They are given the Torah and the presence of God in the Tabernacle so they can learn to be the Royal Priesthood.

The people who are called to be the bearers of the solution are also bearers of the problem.  The entire problems of the OT, and Paul’s theology, is concerned with Israel being promise-bearers but also being in Adam.  The tension of that double identity is only resolved on calvary when the representative of Israel bears on himself the paradoxes, the sin, the pain of humanity as a whole.

In the middle of all that, cutting lots very short, there is one figure who is deeply ambiguous, and has to learn the hard way what it is all about.  Walter Brugemman’s work on the Psalms have held aloof from the Royal Psalms as they struggle with a tyrannous monarchy.  They get rid of George III in 1770 and don’t want him back – they’ve had many George’s since so heaven help them.

Psalm 2 shows this: the nations are in uproar but the king will solve – a direct link to Ephesians 3:10.  Psalm 72 shows a wonderful vision as God’s king is in charge.  The only people who object to a king like that are the oppressors.  God will one day raise up a son of David through whom the promise of Abraham will be delivered, the entail of Genesis 3 and 11 is dealt with.

Isaiah 11:1-9 – this is the creator’s dream, to bring all things together in the Messiah, straight line from heaven to earth, cf. Ephesians 1:10.  Don’t read the Bible in little bits, some just read it in 10 verse chunks, it’s like listening to a symphony and only hearing the 10 bars, you don’t need to remember it all, to whistle it all on the way home, be overwhelmed by it, enjoy it.  Read Isaiah 52, 53, 54.  The kingdom of God through the death of the servant leads to the renewal of the covenant and creation.  At the heart of it Isaiah 55:3 the democratization of the Davidic promise.

Our missionary narrative must be bigger than either of the visions we spoke of before.  It must include the complete renewal of humans.

The New Testament

A lot of Biblical theology lands in the letter to the Romans, lands in many other places too.  In Romans 1:18 we have a Genesis 3 moment and in the rest of Romans 1 we can watch the humanness of Genesis 1 and 2 deconstruct.  In Roman 4 Paul expounds Genesis 15 – a worldwide family – cf. Romans 4:13 – not just the land but the world – Sermon on the Mount – the meek inheriting the world.

Romans 8 – the groundwork of so much of our missional thinking – the new Exodus story, the people labouring under the law in Romans 7 are being led to their inheritance.  Christians think our inheritance is heaven.  But Romans 8 says the whole renewed creation.  The whole world is God’s holy land.  We are led by the pillar of cloud by day and the fire in night, the Spirit is a tabernacling of God himself.  What does it mean to be glorified?  Christians link it to heaven and going to glory.  But Psalm 8, linked to Psalm 2 and 110 is the glory which God shares with his human beings.

If Jesus is heaven, he is in charge, we are supposed to be under God and over the world, a cruciform theocracy.  This draws the sting of the normal objections – Christians have been in charge of the world too long with problems – but we’ve had a Western parody that we can run the world – we’ve done a tower of Babel.

The cross shaped mission of Jesus is to be lived out in humble, costly living.  The Church knows that suffering is part of God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven.  Somehow God uses the suffering of now in strange and beautiful ways.

Romans is about justification.  Justification is part of the creator’s plan to put the world right.  God put humans right (justification) to bring justice into the world – putting right people for the world.  It is trusting in the grace of God alone – you are my children, I love you, my son died for your sins, you are my people – recommissioned as the royal priesthood.

We read Romans 8 as the assurance of salvation, not only God’s gift to the church, but God’s gift through the church.

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 4

Diocese of Winchester

Jill Garrett & Andrew Robinson on Journeying together; the purpose of the sessions focused on Strategic Priorities.

This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos

Over the next few days a number of sessions thinking about strategy.  There will be overlap with what +Tom, +Tim and Jill say.

Understanding the practical nature of the “MIssional Journey” we are on together as one diocese – how would I live differently, how would my work be different, how would our communities be different.

Praying, listening to the Spirit and to others, discussing and agreeing the direction of our travel.

Practically planning how we will engage, commit to action and move forward as one diocese, including how you lead your communities:

  • To understand
  • Pray and wait on the Spirit
  • Engage and to commit to action in their communities

If the Bishop’s Staff Team just say accept these priorities, then you won’t engage, similarly it wouldn’t work in your local church and community.

The aim is then as one diocese we can live out the mission of Jesus in the 2nd decade of the 21st century.

John Stott: “We are called to double listening, listening to the Word and listening to the world.”  You know more about anyone else about your community, but we need to listen with the word of God.

David prayed to God for ordinary things: 2 Samuel 22:30: “With your help I can advance against a troop, with my God I can scale a wall.”  2 Samuel 22:37: “You broaden the path beneath me so that my ankles do not turn over.”  But before he does any of that “he enquired of the Lord saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’” (1 Samuel 23:2).  That is where we are as a Diocese, understanding where God wants us to go.

Luke 4:14-19 very clear priorities to Christ:

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,

19

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 

What does the Spirit say to you?  There has never been a Diocesan Conference before, and as The Message says “This is God’s year to act!” what is God saying to us this year.

The why and impact of strategy

VIsion is the future we long to see in the diocese and sets our destination as we journey together.  +Tim invites us to share the vision he has for the diocese.

When Jesus sent the 72 out he told them to shake the dust off their feet when they were not made welcome.

Strategy defines the route we will take to the destination as together we seek to “Live the Mission of Jesus.”

Strategy enables us to give clear priorities, to direct resources, to ensure the vision thrives in our own communities, in the diocese and more widely, this is good stewardship.

As synod you are responsible for setting the vision.

Establish strategic direction

The Bishop and Staff Team enable leadership to move forward as one body but it cannot be top down.  You are called to listen to the Spirit about what it means to live out the mission of Jesus in communities throughout the diocese, so that you can decide the priorities.

To engage, equip and motivate, churches and communities equally need to sit and prayer and discuss together the strategy for this missional journey.

Process

  • Listen to the spirit about the areas of diocesan focus
  • Share 4 strategic priorities the Bishop Staff Team have considered and look at how these align to the priorities you have identified.
  • Look at how those two streams sit together and move forward together.

What is the Spirit of God saying to you about where the diocese should focus effort as we seek to live out God’s mission as a diocese.

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 3

Diocese of Winchester

Bishop Tim spoke on the Rule of Life introduction for the third session.  This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos.

Re-Founding Winchester: A Benedictine Mission

Our heritage comes from St. Birinus landed in Southampton not Portsmouth as they try to claim!

 

The Gregorian Mission: Augustine and his monks

Augustine was sent as a reluctant missionary, not just the founding of the Christian church but the re-founding, an outside influence to help us.  You only know the Jesus you know, because of the Jesus other people know.  Augustine’s mission was to the Saxons of Kent, but were actually Jute and linked to the Jute of Hampshire.

Benedictine Foundation  – the purpose was to engage culture with the gospel (6th century).

Benedictine Spirituality and the Founding of Winchester: St. Birinus is our first bishop in the 7th century.

If we were founded in this way, what re-founding do we need to do as we face these challenges.

When at CMS in year 1 +Tim lost his faith having seen Christians killing Christians in Rwanda, didn’t believe in the God of mission, the CMS mission, and the integration of inter-african ministry.  Spiritual director said that’s normal, many are even bishops.  Somehow even when just saying the words, others were praying them.  There is no way to avoid being personally challenged, it may cost you the faith you’ve got, but God will give things back, he can re-make and re-found our personal faith as something much bigger that he is doing in the world.

 

Long: Strategic & Sustainable

The only other diocese using the mission-shaped language is one in Toronto, using a challenging schedule.  If you take the decline rate there will only be 1 person left in the Church of Canda in 2061.  We’re not as bad as Canada, but we will be in fantasy land if we don’t deal with the crisis to re-engage the gospel with our culture.  We can do that at street level through Street Pastors for example.  Business as usual won’t suffice, something has to move on.

The Anglican Church of Canada talks about what is sustainable but is bold.  Unsustainable ministry is defined as: “not strategic, not mission-focussed, inward-looking, depleting capital assets, unable to maintain property and create reserves, can’t cover operating expenses, reliant on funding outside of freewill offering of members.”

The Bishop’s Staff Team have made proposals but they are for re-working, with the help of Jill and others.  Proposed priorities:

  • Sharing faith
  • Transforming Society
  • Parish & Pioneering
  • Sacrificial Living

Is this what the Lord is saying?

 

The Benedictine Rule of Life

Creates culture (the Western culture!) by engaging with culture.  Unless we are clear that our rule of life needs to be that radical it won’t work.  It should give shape and content to spirituality.  It combines worldview and way of living with a vision for the wellbeing of society.  INcludes basic patterns for how to live, for example Ely Benedictine rule: listening, obedience, stability, work, and transformation with an act of commitment.

What happens if we re-work this for us a diocesan rule from our Benedictine cathedral?

 

Developing a Pattern of Life

Pope Gregory’s mandate concerning heathen temples: he desired that native temples be Christianised and asked Augustine to Christianise pagan practices into dedication ceremonies or feasts of martyrs, since “he who would climb to a lofty height must go up by steps, not leaps.”

This is not a quick fix, but a long-term recovery and re-founding, we won’t see results in the next week.  Pagan temples and practices need to be tackled but that takes time, and we need to give ourselves time to do this.

Going by steps – what should it include?  Your relationships with family, friends, at work, church, neighbourhood, wider world, self and God.  Fairly obvious but when did we last sit down and reflect on all these different elements to live the full mission of Jesus.  What do we do daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?  +Tim writes his in his daily Bible, so he reflects on it regularly.

This could be deeply challenging, it could disturb us, but what an impact it could have if we were willing to make this commitment.

 

Deep into Jesus’ Mission

The long-term view is dependent on going deep with Jesus and his mission.  Jesus is God’s missional love in action – fairly obvious – but sometimes we need to state the obvious and remind ourselves of this.  An icon in +Tim’s study to help him contemplate on Christ.  Are we still walking with Jesus, do we understand who he is, ask him to help us each day.  Jesus is someone we can go on contemplating and contemplating.  The ++Rowan chose to speak on the contemplation of Christ to the Roman Catholic house of bishops.

Jesus is the confidence in God’s mission – the three Ps are not based on Tim Dakin energy and vitality but on a God who is changing us.  Jesus is the only confidence we can have.

Getting to know, by living, the historical and ongoing mission of Jesus.

Living the mission of Jesus really gets +Tim going, we will say it in different ways, Jesus is doing it and we can be a part of it.

Theological summary: “Getting to know Jesus the Prophet, incarnate Priest and ascended King.”

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 2

Diocese of Winchester

This was the first of three sessions by Bishop Tom Wright.  This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos

When you invite a middle-aged bible scholar presumably you want middle-aged exegesis!  Loved some of the things +Tim meant such as Street Pastors, doing that on Stockton Tees wearing purple cassock with fluorescent yellow jacket of Street Pastors on top – the girls who dress to kill couldn’t match him!

Moved to work in the academy and the university so not many stories, but like teaching someone to fish they can eat for life, share some stories from past ministry and you will have better stories, but hopefully spread the big picture of some aspects of the mission of God in scripture, focussed on Jesus, and then given to his people in the power of the Spirit.  To open up ways to read scripture missionally which will give not just ideas but resource you for the task.

John 20:19-23

Two words “as” and “so” are critical.  All of us, bishops included, would much rather that God got on with his mission and we have a ring-side seat where we could watch.  There is no place.  As the Father sent me so I send you.  God remains sovereign, and we are an angled mirror to reflect God to the word and the groaning and moaning of the world to God.

Watch whatJesus is doing: healing a cripple, welcoming children, washing disciples foot, home truths for the rich and powerful, telling people he is becoming King and demonstrating it.  Telling strange but beautiful stories.  As the Father sent me so I send you.  We can’t do all these things but in the power of the Spirit we can do these things for the world.

We need to ponder, to mull over the gospels.  Too often we cut it down to a nice moral lesson on a Sunday morning, and better that than nothing, but the gospel is vast like a mountain outside the back door and we focus on the foothills.  The gospel is the turning point of all world history.  The only reason we are here is because in the 1st century the living God opened a corner in Palestine and invited us to come with him.

The Sermon on the Mount when reading it would think is 3 out of 9 ok – but that misses the point – they are not blessings for those people but blessings through those people for the world.  People say why doesn’t God do something – Iraq, Syria, world hunger, football transfers – they imagine when God does something he sends in the tanks and clean it out, but he sends out the meek, the humble, the mourners, the hungry for justice starting schools and hospitals, bringing love, healing, knowledge for people – that’s how God works.

What is the basis of all this?  Start in the middle and work out – the great story of the resurrection.  Used to interview parish priests for jobs – which 2 passages of scripture would you take to a desert island – but you already have John 20, Romans 8, Psalm 119.  Many Christians over last 200 years have tried to hold the fabric of the gospel together whilst not being sure about the physical resurrection.  If Christ has not been raised our faith is futile and we and the world are still in our sins, new creation has not yet begun.

That’s why John emphasises that it’s the first day of the week – he does nothing by accident – so many heights and depths for us to read and explore – it is a new Genesis – in the beginning was the word – you don’t begin a book like that by accident – creation runs its course for 6 days and on the 6th day he creates humans in his image and on the seventh day he rests.  On the Friday Pilate brings Jesus out before the crowds, and on the 7th day God rests in the darkness of the tomb.  On the beginning of the new week is the beginning of the new creation – something which is the ontological basis of mission – without it we are do gooders trying to make the world less miserable.  Yes the world is tough but the resurrection says a cosmic shock wave has gone through the world.

The Church has been at the forefront of the world making it a better place to live, making huge enormous differences due to the living God establishing his kingdom on earth as in heaven.

Breathing on them to receive the Holy Spirit is another Genesis analogy.  Go back to John 7:37-39 Jesus has gone to Jerusalem, been relatively quiet during feast of tabernacles and then quotes Isa. 55 and at tabernacles they would pour out water to remember God providing water during the exile.  Not into the believers heart, as a lake collecting water greedily, but out of our heart, The cross cleanses the hearts of Jesus’ people so that now the Spirit can be given.  The death and resurrection of Jesus is central to enabling the mission of God.

The theme of the Temple used to be seen as an old-fashioned object, but temple theology is the very centre of the missional life of the church.  In John 7 there is no place in the Old Testament which is where the v 38 quote comes from but Ezekiel has an image of the city and the temple being restored, with the glory of God returning, and then the river of living water flows out of the temple to make even the dead sea fresh.  This is what Jesus and therefore John draws our attention to.  Not a safe place to retreat to but a bridge head joining together heaven and earth.  Gregory Beale wrote The Temple and the Churches Mission which is worth reading even though it is quite technical.

It all goes back to the end of the book of Exodus.  Reading the Old Testament through Genesis good, Exodus the slaves will be free, then ch 20 is the 10 Commandments and then a big sigh but the book continues from Genesis 1 and 2 of heaven and earth coming together in the garden, that heaven and earth will come together in the tabernacle.  If you don’t read it at a run you don’t get the drama of it – Aaron building a golden calf downstairs while Moses receiving the instructions for the tabernacle – Moses intercedes and God shows them to build the Tabernacle outside the camp – God fills the Tabernacles.  He is joining together with his people.  It is a microcosm of the creation, a sign of Ephesians 1:10 to join all things together under the Messiah.

It is those themes that are being evoked in the introduction of John’s gospel.  We’ve heard it too often at carol services, we need to refresh it.  The Greek says “skne” – seam – the tent, the tabernacle.  What narrative are we living in now?  Many Jews in the second temple period took it very seriously – that God had abandoned the Tabernacle – waiting for the fulfillment of the end of Ezekiel and Isaiah.  They would say in the first century no this has not happened.  They realised in Malachi they needed to take care in liturgy because he could suddenly come back but no one knew what it would look like.  God never appears in the same way, no one knows, the four evangelists in their own different ways, say it looks like a Jewish man striding through the streets, praying with people, welcoming children, looking in the eye of the rich and respectable who aren’t that respectable, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and gave his life as a ransom for many.  That’s the fulfillment of Ezekiel.  In Jn 2 Jesus says destroy the temple and he will rebuild it.  The tent being pitched in the tabernacle is not just about Jesus but about us and the wider world.

We think the climax of John’s gospel will come, but then we get the farewell discourses with the disicples in the upper room.  Jesus and his followers is the real temple – receiving the Holy Spirit. We are to be temple people, through whom the new creation launched at Easter becomes a reality in the world, though whom the living water poured outo n the cross flows out to make the dead sea fresh.

Three vinaigrettes:

  • Mary in tears thinks he’s the gardner, and he says “Miriam (not Maria, but the name she was known as a little girl) Jesus renames us, give us our true names and then tells us to tell others.  The Ascension isn’t about being absent, but going to the CEOs office to run the kingdom.  All ministry flows from the announcement that the risen Jesus is the Lord of the world.
  • Thomas, grumpy, be my guest, see the evidence, let’s not be high and mighty about the doubt, we need to meet the doubters half-way, Jesus says come on, let’s do it together.
  • Peter in Jn 18:18 and 21:9 at a charcoal fire – three denials met with three questions.  But they are puzzling, most translations don’t bring this is out, he says do you love me, the agape, big love word.  Peter can’t say that, he says yes I am your friend – philo not agape.  Jesus says feed my lambs.  We have all let Jesus down big time, whatever labels and jobs we have.  You might expect Jesus to say ok we will put you on a probationary course to get you back in the saddle, nor I forgive you, but feed my lambs, the word of commission functioning as the word of forgiveness.  The third time he says, “are you my friend”, but Jesus was saying ok Peter if that’s where you are that’s where we will start, feed my sheep, and by the way there’s some stuff I’ve got planned for you, follow me.

He showed them his hands and his side.  It won’t be easy but peace be with you.  That’s +Tom’s prayer for this conference.  Not just to be beneficiaries but agents of the world.

Group discussion

  • Challenged by the angled mirror – we reflect God to the world and the world’s moaning and groaning to God.
  • The Beatitudes remind us that it can be God meeting us in the mess, the pain and the grubbiness, not the shiny perfection we often think we need.
  • The language of the questions to Peter – very powerful and large implications for us.
  • The water as it flows from the Temple must be dirty as it flows through us – as God meets us where we are at.  Like the River Jordan – a real disgusting river.  A real grace flowing out.

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 1

Diocese of Winchester

This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos

Welcome from Archbishop Justin Welby

Very exciting to hear all the things in the diocese, and to hear it sharpening it’s focus on the mission.  Look forward to learning from you as you go forward in this.

  • Living radically in the world: not cutting ourself off, living in our own holy huddle.  The work of the Street Pastors in Southampton is a classic example of being a mission shaped diocese.  When we are utterly engaged in the life around us we are most likely to find ourselves serving the cause of Jesus.  Discard ruthlessly those things that make us inward looking.
  • Being an incredibly thoughtful group of Christians: being in the world involves looking critically at the baggage we bring, and the baggage the world brings and not tripping ourselves up over it.
  • Rooted in Jesus: a commitment to common and individual prayer, with an every increasing love for Jesus.

Serve through making people jealous by having fun and showing what God is

Winchester has an incredible link of overseas, so it is not the Winchester church, or the English church, but the global church, be conscious of this.  Share in the joys and the sorrows of the Church of England.

Don’t take anything too serious apart from worship, everything else is pretty humorous, especially ourselves, let’s go away caught up not on where we are but on where we could be.

Bishop Tim – Missionary God; Missional Church

We have the enormous privilege of becoming like God through participating in His mission.  Becoming a mission shaped diocese will take us to the very depths of who we are and what we can become.  The Analogy of God’s Mission: Becoming a Mission-Shaped Diocese.

Contexts and Constants

Everyone says this about their times, these are amazing changes, Phyllis Tickle says we are in the change that happens once every 500 years and so we are in this change, globally, at the moment.

The Acts of God challenge us to have a growth in confidence as we see God is in mission.  We have seen a change in facts and values; where is the relationship between morality and facts.  God is excluded from so much, and yet many would say you can see .  We are back, and religion has to be taken into account – the comeback kid against secularist theory.

Mission shaped-church means we have to understand our culture better and learn how to communicate better.  We are in a cross-cultural mission within our own culture which is the first time ever, especially for Westerners.

We are in the process of change-making – we have a generational opportunity that we haven’t seen for many decades, could look at change for the generations behind us.  That means reflecting on our governance, management and strategy.

There are some constants (A. Walls): Jesus – constant maong us; connected to Israel – very important for us to remember that the history of Israel, and the Old Testament is important ofr us to reflect on; part of the global community as the church; scripture and sacraments.

Mission-Shaped Diocese

God in society, not only in just and/or personal faith but for Christianity to be in the marketplace as change makers.  We are not alone, the new Chief Rabbi has spoken on “transform communities” and “grow”.

Built into the role description of all news bishops as the Five Marks of Mission and the Three Quinquennium Goals.  The Church is committed to this agenda, as is Bishop Tim:

  • Passionate personal spirituality
  • Pioneering faith communities
  • Prophetic global citizens

We are called to be like God, through His mission.

We need to be more self-conscious of what our diocese is like to belong to, what is our strategy, where are we going, how are we structuring ourselves os we can be the people we are.

Filled with the Fullness of God

Using Ephesians 3:14-21 as a prayer for the Conference.  If we understand the fullness of God we will naturally walk in the path of mission.  Paul’s prayer is like Jesus’ prayer in John 17 – to fill and to fulfill is a strong missional theme.  God fills and fulfills and does it again and again, overcoming anything and everything through his love.

Been on holiday to Africa – reminds hims of the vitality of life.  God’s love is simply overflowing.  Vital for us if we are to understand God as father of all – sharing God’s life with all.  Vital for us if we are to understand God as father of all – sharing God’s life with all.

God can and does act – versus a practical atheism.  God acts through Christ by the Spirit – that Triune understanding is imperative.

God acts with us personally, corporately, and globally.

Deep, Wide, Long, High: Sharing the love of God

  • Deep with Jesus and his mission.  Bishop Tom will lead us in reflections on how we can go deep with Jesus if we are willing.
  • Wide: personal, corporate and public – the calling that we have because of the love of God
  • Long: strategic and well resourced for the long run
  • High: Spirit of the Ascended Lord – giving himself in all that he is by his Spirit to us.

To do this takes risks, uncomfortable, and challenging.