Holy Spirit Church: Arranging the Furniture

The way we arrange the furniture in our lives (both the literal and the non-literal) communicates so much about who we are and who we aspire to be. And it sets the background scenery to our story. If the arrangement of the furniture is at odds with our goals, this can frustrate or even prevent us attaining our goals. One cannot physically relax in a living room without comfortable chairs. Equally, an untidy desk can be an impediment to work. Less literally, a cluttered calendar has no space for a new departure in life (e.g. deciding to pray regularly) – something has to move out to make space.

So it interests me immensely how we arrange the furniture in our church buildings. We should sometimes stop and ask what our furniture says about our understanding of who we are and who God is calling us to be.

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Parish Rule of Life Proposal

As vicar of Greenside Parish, I have been exploring with my church the idea of adopting a church rule of life. Recently, we began to look at some potential wording for such a rule as a way of exploring the idea. Whether we will ever adopt this wording or even something similar to it remains to be seen. For now, it is just an exploration.

The words we have been considering are below. Continue reading

New Monasticism Conference Reflections

Last weekend, I attended a new monasticism conference in London. My interest in new monasticism primarily concerns how parish church might be influenced and, in some way, become “new monastic” in character. These are my reflections, then, from a parish church perspective.

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Parish rule of life ideas

This is the third in a series of posts about new monasticism in parish church. Here, I begin to ponder what items might appear in a rule of life for a parish-based expression of new monasticism. I’ve been preaching on these things so, where appropriate, I’ll include links to sermon recordings/transcripts. We’ll start with just two or I’ll never get round to publishing…

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Covenant parish community

Having previously set out some of my thoughts about what we were calling “parish monasticism”1We’re now calling it “new monasticism in the parish context” because that’s what we really mean – even if this name is a little bit of a mouthful. The emphasis here is on new monasticism to be clear that “parish monasticism” is not a different thing to “new monasticism”, but, rather, an expression of new monasticism in a particular context., the next question is how to proceed practically. It’s all very well to talk about doing this – but how do we actually begin?

This week, I began a foray into new monasticism with my church at our annual parochial church meeting. My thinking was aided by discussions held around an upcoming New Monasticism conference in October in which we pondered what “new monasticism” actually is. Like most movements of the Holy Spirit, this one proves difficult to pin down. However there was broad agreement around one thing: having a common rule or rhythm of life. This set me wondering as to whether this is a good place to begin.

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1. We’re now calling it “new monasticism in the parish context” because that’s what we really mean – even if this name is a little bit of a mouthful. The emphasis here is on new monasticism to be clear that “parish monasticism” is not a different thing to “new monasticism”, but, rather, an expression of new monasticism in a particular context.

Parish Monasticism

For some years now, I have been increasingly convinced that God is calling us to ways of being parish church which will take us into a much deeper form of community. Over the past year, I have discovered that many other clergy (and some laity) are thinking along similar lines and that a movement appears to be beginning around what we have come, tentatively, to call “Parish Monasticism”.

In this, my first post on the subject, I am beginning a journey of exploring how parish monasticism might work out practically in a Church of England parish context. I will be using this and future posts to help organise my thoughts on the subject, so what I say is tentative and feedback is welcome.

For other thinking on the subject, you might like to read Ned Lunn’s detailed exploration through the lens of St Benedict’s Rule. Holy Trinity Salcombe’s mon2sat and Walk the Extra Mile¬†websites are also very relevant. If you wish to find other people interested in Parish Monasticism, you’d be very welcome to join the facebook group.

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