You Can’t Take Joy & Laughter Too Seriously

According to Phil Stone, director of the Scargill Movement, joy and laughter are two subjects one should take very seriously indeed. Joy and laughter are not incidental to the Christian walk – they sustain it as they enrich it. Tricia Hillas and Andrew Corsie, both vicars in London, ran a course here last week entitled ‘Taking Joy and Laughter Seriously’ and while being an absolute blast it has also given us a lot of food for thought. In amongst the clips, quotes and brainstorms, the material covered the health benefits of laughing (reducing pain, stress and even calories), the role of humour in our spiritual development as we become increasingly self-aware and the ability to laugh in the dark – overcoming adversity and oppression. Phil is a great advocate for taking the role of joy and laughter in shared life together seriously.

It was such a joy to have two good friends from London last week leading our course. Andrew and Tricia were inspirational, thought provoking, and there was obviously a lot of laughter. One of the aspects that has encouraged us since Scargill has been resurrected is people have commented that it’s not always the talks or the worship that bring about some change in their lives, but the love and laughter they find at Scargill during their stay. Our community promises conclude with the phrase that we will try to laugh together often. Laughter is healing, it gets in touch with the heart of hospitality, and when we bring a sense of humour into a conflict situation the likelihood is that it can be sorted. If we take joy and laughter seriously it may help us to not to take ourselves too seriously. Perhaps the Church needs to take this medicine at least three times a day!

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Tripping the Light Fantastic with the New Monastics

scargillphil is now well and truly up and running! This is where our Director Phil Stone riffs on all manner of subjects close to his heart while keeping us posted on community life. It’s an opportunity to get a different insight into the Scargill Movement from a unique perspective. You can catch up with last week’s edition here. In today’s post our inimitable director (picture a mischievous Pan in a dog collar) discusses New Monasticism, the movement that seeks to bring elements of traditional monastic life and give them new expression in a contemporary context…

The other week Di and I attended a dialogue between people who represent the old monastic way of life and those who represent the new monastic way of life. It was wonderful to hear from the old monastics and I would say they are very gracious to us who are thinking in a new monastic way. They have made a huge lifelong commitment to a particular way of life whereas those of us exploring a new kind of monasticism are, tongue in cheek, just playing with it really. That said there is a lot of value in taking on board the wonderful truths and lifestyles of old monasticism and reincorporating them into patterns of living today. For instance at Scargill we have a shared ethos, a daily rhythm of prayer and a rule of life, similar to that of old monastic movements, which we call our Pathway. This rule is essential to shaping our life together and links us with many people who become Scargill Companions who follow the same Pathway wherever they may be living. Real hospitality, a key cornerstone of traditional monasticism, is also central to our life together, believing that Christ is in all that come through our doors, treating each one as a royal guest.

I would say that at Scargill we are growing into becoming a new kind of monastic community. For many people labels such as ‘New Monasticism’ are unhelpful, or only have a limited application. Some find these terms useful in order to group together resources and connect new communities while others don’t, finding them limiting or insufficient. Whatever you call it there seems to be a growing momentum in small communities across the world to reincorporate traditional practices of shared living and hospitality in everyday life. One of the things about this kind of lifestyle that young people are particularly drawn to is the sense of authenticity, the opportunity to find an authentic way of expressing their love – their love for Christ. They’re looking for something, for a discipleship that is real and that really does affect their lives. They are looking for a discipleship that goes alongside mission. Really wrestling with Christ’s word, taking Christ seriously in our lives as the one who wants to make his home in our hearts. What does it really mean if Jesus takes home in our hearts? Wow! Incredible, right? That would be really transformative – that would reshape us in a way that is probably beyond our imagination.

Keep watching this space for more updates posted every Sunday.

Community Living

scargillphil is now live! This is where Phil Stone, our loveable, huggable director, gives us regular updates into the weird and wonderful life at Scargill letting us know what he’s up to and what’s going on. Phil, equal parts loving encourager and windup merchant, will keep us up to date with activities, events and prayer requests and give us little snapshots of community life. There will also be plenty of information about how you can get involved at life at Scargill. To kick things off we asked Phil to give us an insight into the nature of community living…

Di and I have now been at Scargill for three years. I was musing with a group of clergy from Bradford Diocese that it has been the toughest as well as the most rewarding three years of my life. The heart of Scargill is “Lives shared lives transformed”, and at the centre is the transforming love of Jesus. Scargill is a wonderful place, set in the Yorkshire Dales’ commanding fabulous views, and living in community with thirty others from many different countries, cultures, backgrounds, is such a rich experience, where at  times there is harmony, with plenty of love and laughter and at other moments discord and dis-ease. Community life will always, and should always have a fragility about it, and it is in that fragility that we can grow and mature.

Keep watching this space every Sunday for more updates from Phil.