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Saturday, March 29, 2003

Today is Day 2 of a 2 Day Ignatian teaching retreat which I am doing in the company of 7 others. It is being facilitated by Fr. George Drury SJ from the USA. It has been a very significant and enriching time for me, as I allow God to deepen my Jesus-following life, and deepen my relationship with God. It has been a wonderful time in which to 'daydream' (i.e. spend time in contemplation) and to move deeper than all the activity (much of it very important) that is happening in my life so that I find God…” This requires discipline (which I'm slowly learning) and the creation of space and stillness, which this retreat is providing...

Also, I came across this on Friday evening. It reinforced some thinking I'd expressed in a conversation, and provided some content for my reflection on retreat yesterday - A Time for Re-Membering by Elizabeth O'Connor (Church of our Saviour, Washington DC). I blogged a little on the issue a weeke or so ago, in reference to Mike Riddell and Alan Roxburgh. "What is God saying to me? or wanting me to learn? hmmmmm.

Paul Fromont 3/29/2003 12:04:00 PM
Thursday, March 27, 2003
I have been working my way through Alan Roxburgh's lectures from CULTIVATING MISSIONAL CONGREGATIONS
- a conference he facilitated in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday 8 - Thursday 10 October, 2002. I have found them inspirational, and extremely exciting in a number of the sessions. He covers some very important material around the whole "Missional Church" / "Leadership" area. Includes the following:

Session # 5 Leadership: The shape of our imagination.

The imagination of many church leaders remains captive to methods of strategic planning. We look at why these processes will fail us in our new context and develop alternative images for leadership.

Session # 6 A New Way of Leading: What is the role of leadership in a period of discontinuous change?

Discover a new framework for cultivating missional communities rooted in theological convictions about God's purposes in the world and our emerging understanding of organizations as complex systems. This session will unfold a model of leadership radically different from the notions of control, prediction and planning that have obsessed the church in recent years.

Session # 11 Resources for Change: Missional LeadershipSkills

Most church leaders were trained with excellent capacities for running local churches and denominations within a former Christendom model. Today they require capacities for leading in a radically different world. Using the Missional Leadership Process you will be introduced to tools and resources for effectively identifying and developing the requisite capacities for missional leadership.

Session # 12 Resources for Change: CongregationalTransformation

How do you effecting assist a congregation begin constructive dialogue about its current realities and do this in ways that invite and cultivate a process of change? These tools have been used in numerous congregations to do just that – learn a methodology for inviting, increasing and making corporate decisions based on expanding dialogue, awareness, understanding and common actions.

You'll find a full schedule here. Tapes are $40 (Australian) each, but there are more than one session per tape.The service from the Baptist Union of Victoria is excellent. Alan's comments around preaching (but not as we've known it), the importance of dialogue and conversation were/are extremely useful insights...you'll even notice some of my blog community represented in person at the conference...

I have found the whole experience of my solitary interaction with the material very, very helpful...

Paul Fromont 3/27/2003 11:30:00 AM
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Have been doing some thinking around the text for a sermon on the 6th April - John 12:20-33, especially vv.24 - 24. I firstly want to talk about the Biblical Text in it’s context and its historical significance (parallel – Matthew 16:24-26 (The Message), then I'm wanting to explore the whole notion of spiritual formation, the way in which God forms us by 'subtraction' (a 'dying' to self in order that paradoxically we might become more fully alive, more fully human, which for me is to talk about becoming more like Jesus).

Subtraction is the process whereby God 'frees' after the pattern and the example of Jesus who is in God's eyes the example, the prototype of what God intends to do in us. Sometimes in our lives God works as a sculptor...working to remove from our lives that which prevents Jesus from being expressed through our unique temperament, abilities, experiences, and background. Contrasting God as Sculptor from God as Painter in which God adds to our lives layer by layer (thinking of 2 Peter 1:5-8). With Jesus as the one whom God put forward as the exemplar of true human existence (‘the second Adam of a restored creation’)…our destiny is that we might at last become truly human. I want to explore the role of "spiritual disciplines" in this process, utlising the notion of spiritiual disciplines as ways of removing obstacles and creating new channels of response to the loving, seeking, and shaping of the Father.

My challenge to communicate this in very simple and practical terms...any help appreciated...

Paul Fromont 3/26/2003 10:53:00 AM
Sunday, March 23, 2003
I'm facilitating the discussion around the movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, next month, and am reflecting on the nature of "sin" the the whole issue of Jesus not sinning and his humanness...it's already come up in discussion in PARABLES (our movie watching, dicsussion group). Here's a quote I want to use to 'spark' some conversation and debate:

"...We sin when we refuse the responsibility of becoming human, for that is the will of God for us. We sin insofar as and when we become aware of that calling and look and act the other way. In this sense Jesus did not sin..." Jim Cotter.

I'm also going to use Philippians 2:1-8.

Any comments, insights on the relationship between sin, and Jesus' humanity? On Philippians 2:1-8?

Paul Fromont 3/23/2003 11:18:00 AM
Friday, March 21, 2003
I had a great evening in Auckland last night at a gathering / meal hosted by Steve and Lynne Taylor. We had some great fellow guests - Ben and Ruth Edson from Sanctus 1 in Manchester, Rachel and Regan, plus some wonderful people from Graceway. A really enjoyable night of conversation, wine, and food. Got back from Auckland just after 1.00am so the cup of coffee Kathryn made me is going down well. I'm not quite clear on the one or two things that 'stuck' with me from the evening, but the sense of engaging with and listening to people; the way in which Steve facilitated the conversation with questions (perhaps you could post them on your blog Steve. They're ones I'd like to continue reflecting on..) drawn from the Sanctus website. It was good to be there, in a home, with some wonderful people, many whom I met for the first time...it was good to realise that church planting still has appeal for me, but that timing, and the need for others with the passion, committment, and vision still rests in God's hands...it was good to meet in person more of the people I've 'connected' with or discovered through the medium of new media...it was humbling / encouraging to see Steve and Mike give 'flesh' to their pastoral ministry amongst their community...for me, it was hope-filled evening in lots of ways...thanks Steve & Lynne.

It was good for me also to publically pray for peace with a small group from Graceway, and others. We gathered around candles in a public square in Ellerslie, listened to scripture, U2 ('Peace on Earth'), prayed, thought, reflected on pictures of Iraqi children - a very human way to think about war and it's consequences.

Paul Fromont 3/21/2003 02:02:00 PM
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
“…Living in Jesus’ company, I have to live in a community that is more than just the gathering of those who happen to agree with me, because I need to be surprised and challenged by the Jesus each of you will have experienced. As long as we can still identify the same Jesus in each others lives, we have something to share and to learn…”

Rowan Williams, Enthronement Sermon, Canterbury Cathedral, 27th Feb 2003.

This quote from Williams highlights an important part of my journey - the need for a small group, to quote my friend Kevin Rains, "...to support, mutually equip, resource, love, and network...[to] dream similar dreams... [who] are interested in being a part of a movement that Jesus leads and they facilitate...," but, and I found this interesting, I checked my e-mail last night and recieved a lovely e-mail from Bob Carlton. In it he provided some great "followup" around the theme of community, and comments made by Laura at Magadalene Instititute (9th March, 2003). These especially connected with my experience, and one of my struggles - I find it really hard to communicate my journey within the smaller group of friends within the larger church community. I warm to interest shown in what I'm learning, experiencing, and encountering, but when there is no apparent interest I privatise and keep my journey to myself. I "self-censor." I can mention all kinds of things, books, video's, movies, and seldom get a "hey, that sounds interesting, can I borrow it, or can we watch that together and talk about it...." I'm a natural introvert but need the stimulus of a genuinely interested 'other.' I don't want to overwhelm seemingly disinterested people. My natural reaction: I assume no interest because when I'm interested in something someone has said, written about; something that 'pushes my buttons,' I seek it out, I find the source, read it, watch it etc. I want to engage with and share some common ground with that person. That's how I think friendships grow...

Anyway, here's what Laura wrote. Thanks Laura (and Jane ?), I found it really useful and timely:

"...The boundaries of community are often experiential: shared experiences that create a common world. But every individual has experiences that the rest of the community hasn't had. To live in community, we MUST be able to communicate what we know that comes from those differences...It's hard work to speak, and my speech may be misunderstood, ignored, or resisted.

If I encounter this same resistance often enough, and don't have the tools or the support to overcome it, then eventually I stop trying to "force" myself on the community. I stop communicating things that challenge the community narrative. The community is impoverished and I am isolated. That's what I meant by self-censorship.

Since this hurts everybody, it's everybody's job to fix it.

I need skill and courage to give my community what it needs, to speak up with the piece of inspiration that would otherwise be lost. To receive the gifts I bring it, the community needs an intentional commitment to growth and openness.

As an individual in community, I have to learn how to:

Notice when I am reflexively censoring myself

Articulate to myself what it is I'm not talking about

Figure out what it is that other people see differently

Assess whether it really is risky for me to raise this issue now

Translate my insight into language that the community might be able to hear and understand

Speak truth in love

Listen hard to community responses

Try again if it doesn't work.

As communities, we have to learn to:

Notice who isn't speaking and not assume that they agree

Invite speech respectfully and persistently from those who are silent

Teach the skills of engaged discourse to everybody who wants to learn them

Teach our community language to newcomers

Do some translating ourselves

Notice when we are defending community narratives and in what spirit

And cultivate a spirit of learning and growth rather than rigidity or complacency..."

Paul Fromont 3/19/2003 11:05:00 AM
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
This little quote has started me thinking...intuitively I think the point being made is an important point...Thanks to Todd Hunter for posting it on his blogsite, and Bob Carlton for bringing it to Todd's attention...

“...When we envision the church as an idealized family, we are not very capable of welcoming the stranger. When family is the only metaphor we use, people with whom we cannot achieve intimacy, or with whom we do not want to be intimate, are squeezed out. Since intimacy often depends on social and economic similarities, church then becomes a place of retreat rather than true hospitality. Such a church does everything in his power to eliminate the strange and cultivate the familiar. Such a church can neither welcome the stranger nor allow the stranger in each of us to emerge.” -- Molly Marshall..."

I've often used "family" as a way of talking about church. Where's the point of tension? Is it that we have a reduced notion of idealised family? What if we thought of families as being "committed at the core, and open at the edges"? What if families were places of welcome for those who are different than us? What if we truly practised hospitality (thinking of Christine Pohl's book at this point)? Is this tension around using the metaphor of "family" a tension because we have a poor conception of what, in Christ, a family is? In my Australasian context, might the summer BBQ become a gathering around which we reconfigure a notion of family as "open at the edges" - a medium around which we explore in practice the welcoming of the 'stranger'? Could it become a missional 'ritual' - a meeting place which re-joins together the often divided sacred and the everyday? Can it become a central ritual around which false dualisms can be reconciled?

Paul Fromont 3/18/2003 12:00:00 PM
Sunday, March 16, 2003
A contrasting view of Christian leadership (from that provided by Margaret Wheatley - below) - one with which I think has some real benefits in our "disembedded," "fluid," and "transitional" context where many people feel 'all-at-sea' - longing for the way of used to be, and unclear about the nature of change, what is changing, and where that change might lead....

This is part of my response to a friend, Steve, who is a part of the same church community I belong too. We'd starting 'reflecting' about the contrast between managerial leadership in the workplace, and the Leadership exercised, and 'allowed' to be exercised in a church context...I think we were kind of skirting around the differences between "management" and "leadership" - two differently defined kinds of skills, practices, focii etc. When I talk about strong leaders, I'm not talking about strong "managers."

"...I noted your comments around "charismatic leaders etc." I think we need strong leaders who exercise their gift at the leading edge. Again, Roxburgh is suggesting, "...Ours is a context and a time that requires leaders to lead from the front, showing the way toward the recovery of a missional church...such leadership, through the agency of the Holy Spirit works to create a people whose life is a witness to Jesus Christ. Here's an image he uses from Pasolini's film, The Gospel According to Matthew:

"...it shows Jesus going ahead of his disciples, like a commander leading troops into battle. The words he speaks are thrown back over his shoulders to the fearful and faltering followers. He is not like a general who sits at headquarters and sends his troops into battle. He enables and encourages them by leading them, not just telling them. In this picture, the words of Jesus have a different force. They find their meaning in the central keywords "Follow Me."..."

I'm thinking here too of your comments around watching the movie "Saving Private Ryan" and the kind of leadership demonstrated by Tom Hanks' character in a chaotic environment...." (end of the section of e-correspondence)

Our conversation will hopefully continue and we'll discern more clearly the nature of leadership, and the practical way(s) in which the gift / skills need to be exercised in our local context. I'll continue to learn from Alan Roxburgh over the next week or so...

Paul Fromont 3/16/2003 11:48:00 AM
Friday, March 14, 2003
Thanks Len for the quote below. I like it...this notion of "fluidity" and "chaos" is coming up more and more...A good book, from the business world, recommended by Alan Roxburgh - "Surfing the Edge of Chaos." I'm just catching up on the video's of the conference Alan spoke at late last year in Melbourne

"Postmodern leaders resist taking control because they know that focus is more important than individual behaviors. Furthermore, postmodern leaders don't mind fluid structures and are comfortable with chaos because they are more interested in finding meaning than in building structures or establishing order. Wheatley comments that "We instinctively reach out to leaders who work with us in creating meaning" (Leadership and the New Science by Margaret Wheatley, p.135 ).

Paul Fromont 3/14/2003 10:30:00 AM
We’ve started a small group called PARABLES that over the next 6 months will be interacting with six movies. We watch the movie on the third Thursday of the month, and then meet again on the fourth Thursday of the same month to have a facilitated, but relaxed conversation around the content of the movie – it’s themes, the ‘points’ at which it might interface with the gospel, ways that the symbolism / metaphors and story conveyed in the movie might help us meaningfully tell the biblical story, and finally, ways in which the movie might challenges us in practical ways – how we live in the world; how we interact with fellow human beings; the ways in which movies present an alternative to a Christian world-view etc. The first movie we watched was The Matrix. The next is Forrest Gump. The Easter movie is The Last Temptation of Christ. Interestingly, one of the most stimulating ‘strands’ of conversation so far has been around Jesus’ humanity – how human was he? What does it mean he was without sin? When did he realise he was the Messiah? The Son of God? It will be interesting to see how people react to these kinds of themes in The Last Temptation of Christ.

An Idea

Here’s a creative way that Cityside Baptist are exploring movies. Gleaned from my visit to ‘Cityside’ a couple of weeks ago.

Living in Clip: Redux.

“…Bring along your favourite movie clip (or short film, max. 10 mins) and we’ll throw it in the virtual pot. Tapes will be pulled out at random and screened for discussion. Whatever actual food you enjoy munching on while viewing, haul it along to enhance your experience…NB. We will not be watching entire films – 10 mins max, and a limit of one clip per person. Celluloid highlights or lowlights – whatever you think might spark some conversation….”

Paul Fromont 3/14/2003 09:45:00 AM
Thursday, March 13, 2003
Two questions related to discipleship (rhetorical):

How have you revised your living or what have you done this week in order to better enable you to follow through on your decision to follow Jesus?

How have you discerned the formative work of Spirit and Word in your life this week?

Paul Fromont 3/13/2003 11:00:00 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
I know I've already written something this evening but I just love this quote by Aussie academic David Tacey, that Dan over the Tasman at SIGNPOSTS (March 12) has blogged about. I couldn't have written it better myself. Thanks Dan for putting it 'out there':

"...The ruling tradition in any era does not grasp the fact that if God is alive and active in the world, then God will be creative in the world, beckoning us to new transformations. The old tradition may in some ways prefer God to be 'dead', because then the sacred body of God can be laid out, dissected by systematic theologicans and pedants, and pinned down in precise and scientific ways. But if God is alive, our experience of the sacred is going to be uncertain, creative, imprecise and full of surprise and astonishment. If God is alive, God will always be revealed as mysterious, unknowable and unable to be contained and captured..."

Paul Fromont 3/12/2003 12:56:00 AM
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
One idea, amongst many I been usefully reflecting on of late is the tension between what Mike Riddell calls “cyber-monks”

“…My interest is in those Celtic monks who followed the call of God to places unknown… the monks were largely self-resourcing and self-directed. To a limited extent they stepped outside the constricting influences of bishops and church councils in determining their own journey of faith. Given the moribund state of the church of the day, this may have been a necessary distancing. It may be that our own times call for a similar distancing… Rather than experience the angst of a self-conscious break with the structures of the church, the monks subverted authority by giving the appearance of belonging while going about their own vocations… The tradition that they lived out of was portable, adaptable and inviolate. Their practice of faith was only marginally connected to the institution that claimed a franchise upon it… the monastic pattern of association offers a potential model for Christian belonging. The monks maintained a loose network of pilgrims united by a common vision, even though often geographically dispersed. They kept alive a sense of common purpose through the writing of letters, personal friendships, and occasional visits. In this time when communication is so much easier, a dispersed network of cybermonks is a feasible alternative to 'heavy' church, with all its gravitas and need to control. People can take up residence in cultural outposts far from what has previously be familiar, and there live out their lives of quiet devotion among the inhabitants, supported by friendships and shared experiences which are sustained through correspondence and infrequent gatherings…”

And Alan Roxburgh’s call for the need to recover within our understanding of “missional church” the presence of a core or covenant community of people that covenant together to take the Jesus-following life seriously…to quote Dallas Willard…this group will comprise those “who have decided that the most important thing in life is to become progressively more like Jesus…who are constantly revising their living in order to carry through on their decision to follow Jesus…” This commitment will be made in community, and this community will be entered by virtue of committing to the disciplines of the life of discipleship and community. This ‘core’ or covenant group will be both a part of, but also distinct within the wider community of the church community that will include many who are simply observers, those who stay for a season and then move on, those who decide Christianity is not for them etc.

My tension revolves around the whole notion of making commitments: should we make commitments or is the notion of journey, movement, and freedom more appropriate? Should congregations have a growing (numerically & formationally) core community at their heart – on the forward edge of missional movement (see Roxburgh, chapter 7, “Missional Church”)? Should ‘entry’ to this group have covenant conditions attached? How might Roxburgh’s notion of church and entry rituals be perceived in a New Zealand context? Am I completely misunderstanding Roxburgh’s position as outlined in the aforementioned book? I’m also thinking of two ‘Baptist’ churches I’m familiar with who ritualise core commitments on an annual basis. My natural inclination is to agree with Roxburgh, but I am personally more comfortable with the notions Riddell raises. It’s in the practice of movement, in the context of global and national networks (both ‘cyber’ and ‘biological’) apart from the ‘gathered’ life of church that I most learn and grow…that I most encounter diversely gifted, like-minded, and growing Jesus-followers who are investing their resources, time etc. (“...largely self-resourcing and self-directed...” per Riddell) in trying to make Willard’s definition of discipleship (see above) the central characteristic of their lives. Is it an either / or option. I suspect not!

Any comments, observations, links to clarifying resources / literature etc. gratefully accepted if you made it this far…

Paul Fromont 3/11/2003 10:19:00 PM
Sunday, March 09, 2003
Dear God,

Let us prepare for winter. The sun
has turned away from us and the nest of
summer hangs broken in a tree. Life slips
through our fingers and, as darkness gathers,
our hands grow cold. It is time to go inside.
It is time for reflection and resonance. It is
time for contemplation. Let us go inside.

Michael Leunig

Also check out Steve Taylor's blog about pilgrimage and his Lenten Reflections. I just love his and Lynnes prayers. Reminds me of Leunig (above). Thanks you two.

Paul Fromont 3/09/2003 11:02:00 PM
Saturday, March 08, 2003
I might disappear for a few days....I'm having all kind of problems with blogger - it's becoming increasingly unstable and time consuming to post comment...so I might choose a new template and rebuild it......

Paul Fromont 3/08/2003 12:29:00 PM
Malcolm has recently posted a quote from Missional Church, ed. Darrell Guder. Now that I have my own copy I can read it too. Following Malcolm's lead (the power of a 'wired' / connected community of global voices) I decided to start with chapter 7, written by Alan Roxburgh (video's I'd ordered from his recent Melbourne conference conveniently arrived...so now I get to "hear" the words of his writing, which I keep coming back and back too, given "flesh"). Chapter 7 is entitled "Missional Leadership: Equipping God's People for Mission." Having recently also read Mike Riddell on the subject of contextualisation so for me this served as a nice counterbalance:

"...When leaders are shaped primarily by contextual needs, they fail to connect the gospel in a specific setting with its eschatalogical nature. The gospel's eschatalogical horizon makes leaders aware that the church is always more than context..."

The physical context, the soil within which God has planted us, is important. We need to give flesh to the present reality of God at work. We need to give flesh to the already-but-not-yet of Jesus' cruciform faithfulness. We need to learn how to listen to the culture around us and to communicate the realities of the gospel in the 'lingo' of our cultural context. BUT, we also need to embody and work out the end of the story in such a way that we serve as a sign to our communities of a bigger story that is being worked out all around them, and which will ultimately begin again in the re-creation of all things. The danger is always that we approximate our culture so closely that we never challenge, contrast, or hold up an alternative embodied and ultimately prophetic reality. This seems like one of the biggest challenges we face as we explore what faithfulness, and incarnation might look like going forward.........

Paul Fromont 3/08/2003 12:26:00 PM
Thursday, March 06, 2003
Books, like biblical cairns, mark my journey through life; they’re evidence I’ve been that way; they’re the flavour and touch of my life. Look back and you’ll see where I’ve come from. Sit, reflect awhile, turn a page or two and you’ll catch a glimpse of where I’m heading, the possible paths. Gathering books around me is like a person surrounded by friends, their voices those that enliven, challenge, teach, provide colour and texture, and anoint. You can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. Their bookshelves themselves are open books, every bit as autobiographical as one they might write themselves. Yesterday I bought a small second-hand book by a Frenchman, Philippe Delerm, “The Small Pleasures of Life.” Each chapter features a small pleasure (like walking on the curb and trying not to fall onto the road) recounted with a lively, almost innocent curiosity about the tiny things that make life worthwhile. It reflects an area of interest in my life’s journey. Life is for living. God is encountered in the ordinary and the everyday. The pace of my life is such that I miss the detail; the minutiae of life…the hidden evidences of God at work. Reading Philippe’s book (each chapter a tightly written 1.5 pages) reminds me again of the earthiness of the gospel; the ways in my life that I’m able to subvert the inclination to divide the world into the sacred and the profane; it reminds me that sacramental nature of the present moment. I want to savour more of life before it passes me by and I wonder where it’s gone. My children and their children will be able to tell a lot about me if they in turn take the time to read awhile before they discard what remains of me to a rubbish dump or second-hand bookshop. They might even find light for their journeys and my life will have served them well.

Paul Fromont 3/06/2003 10:49:00 AM
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Reflecting on Matthew 9: 9-13. A helpful little story quoted / told (?) by Mike Riddell in his very important book, “Threshold of the Future: Reforming the Church in the Post-Christian West

“…God, it seems, is closer to sinners than to saints. The reason is this. God wants to hold on to every person on the earth, and does so by means of a long string. Whenever somebody does something wrong or hurtful, however, it has the effect of cutting the string, and the connection is broken. If this happens, God has no choice but to tie a not in the piece of string. If it happens over and over again, a series of knots is needed to effect repair. Each knot makes the string a little shorter, and draws the person on it closer to God. That is why sinners are closer to God than saints…”

Paul Fromont 3/05/2003 10:58:00 AM
Monday, March 03, 2003
The weekend just gone was a good one. I got to spend time with my wife in Auckland. I found a second-hand copy of “The Missional Church” (NZ $9.50) so was able to take it out of my AMAZON.com shopping basket, and save myself a lot of money. We were able to have dinner with Rachel and Regan, sharing wonderfully home crafted pizzas, a bottle of cold Marlborough chardonnay, and some detail of our lives. Sunday I visited with the church community that is most me in Auckland, Cityside Baptist. It was one of the most powerful gatherings I’ve been to for long time – Anna and her ‘prayer’ of confession (you had to be there), Arthur and his adaptation of the “Jesus prayer” chanted in time with our individual breathing, Mark Pierson’s talk on Lent, the diversity of people, tears and laughter, surrounded by artistic giftedness, celebrating Ash Wednesday on a Sunday (this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent) and receiving from Mark the sign of the cross in ash, earth, and aromatic oil on my forehead, “Paul, you are dust created for relationship with God; be at peace” (or something close to that). A powerful, earthy link to my Catholic past, giving a very contemporary edge (more a reflection of where I’m at all these years later) to an important season in the Churches year for me. And then there was Mark Laurent – wow! Mark is a tremendously gifted musician. I’m uncertain, but it seemed to me this guy really prays the Psalms with all their passion and human expression. Mark has written a powerful song about the looming Iraq war, and what he feels as a man unsure of what to believe, a man in the midst of lying lips…a man in the mist of a world that worships war not peace - violence not peace. His song weaves Psalm 120 into the ‘lyrics’ of our contemporary world. It was the last symbolic act of our being together. He placed to large pillows/cushions on the floor directly opposite me, took his guitar and knelt of those cushions and sang the prayer of Psalm 120 with all the passion I can imagine the original Psalmist using. I saw what it means to really pray with passion and feeling – to really lament – to cry out to God. I was deeply moved, and our gathered presences were silenced – we just sat there. My heartfelt thanks Mark L if you ever see this – your gift was life for me – the loving touch of God who was there with us.

Paul Fromont 3/03/2003 10:40:00 PM
Canon Theologian, Dr N. T. ('Tom') Wright is giving a series of lectures entitled, Evil and the Justice of God. The first one was given on Monday 27th January 2003: Evil is Still a Four-Letter Word: The New Problem of Evil. The second was given on Monday 17th February, 2003: What Can God Do About Evil? Unjust World, Just God?. The next lecture is on the 17th of March - in thirteen days.

Be formed.

Paul Fromont 3/03/2003 11:13:00 AM

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