It Could Be You

This week Phil discusses community life and what his dream and heart is for Scargill.

I am under no illusion having now lived community life for three years that while it is an incredibly rich experience it is also a very intense one. I can feel great joy and unity one day and later that same week can feel despair and disunity and I’m wondering if this is the same community it was at the start of the week! It is not without reason that the phrase lives shared, lives transformed is central to our rule of life with Jesus right at the heart of this process. We rely on this sharing and transforming. Living in community has a sort of Star Wars feel about it, in the sense that one soon realises that the ‘dark side’ is in all of us.

I was reminded recently of Carolinne White’s introduction to The Penguin Classic of The Rule of life of St Benedict, where she described St Anthony and others like him making the love of God into an ‘extreme sport’! There is no doubt that living on community feels a little extreme. As we are often asked to face difficult situations and some of that is often from within. Yet our community life also gives us the means to grow together. I can probably sum up my dream and heart for Scargill with the words of St Augustine, ‘Love and live it with your life.’ What would that love look like? It would be generous, welcoming, forgiving, accepting with plenty of laughter. The possibility of discovering child-likeness over childishness. A community where people feel included and part of.

In the next couple of weeks some of us will be going to Bose, an ecumenical monastic community of men and women in north Italy. It is set just south of the Italian Alps. When we were last there three words came to our hearts which we experienced through the welcome, food and accommodation. And they were quality, simplicity and beauty. My dream and hope for Scargill is that we may live and move in these gospel words and that our guests would experience them.

Scargill is always in a place of transition and change and we are currently looking for new community members to join the rich, intense, wonderful Scargill adventure. We get a lot of feedback saying the food is brilliant at Scargill and those of us who have been here a while are showing the proof of that! We are currently looking for a new kitchen team leader, who loves Jesus, and would love to experience living in community and of course, loves food. We are also looking for someone to take on the role of administration team leader as well as someone to develop our work with young people and to make use of the wonderful 90 acres we have.

As I write this I wonder if you are the right person for one of these posts or do you know someone who might be interested? For more information you can go here, it would be great to hear from you. Scargill is an adventure and we are looking for pioneering people who are seeking adventure, with a desire for community, with a big heart for Jesus and for people.

Nine Hundred Bottles

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This week Scargill’s Director Phil Stone is thinking about the generous love of God.

Those of you who follow the Anglican lectionary will know that today’s gospel reading was The Wedding at Cana. I love this story. It must have been wonderful to taste the wine that Jesus made. Think of the best red wine you have ever drunk and imagine something even better than that! This miracle of water into wine speaks of the God who wants to transform, and the God who does so generously. At Scargill we are all about ‘Lives shared – lives transformed’ with Jesus right at the heart, it is central to our walk with God this acknowledgement that our lives need to be changed. This is a life-long process.

This miracle is about generosity. Those 6 stone jars that are mentioned, we are told, hold 20 to 30 gallons of water. That is a lot of water to be turned into wine. In fact I worked it out that it was approximately 900 bottles – how crazy and how intoxicating! One could sensibly argue that Jesus was being very irresponsible and way over the top. And yet we read that this miracle was the arch sign that revealed his glory. What is thrilling and exciting is that it is this generous love that we get caught up in and are called to give away. A generous God prompts and calls us to be a generous people, generous with our love, forgiveness and our lives. So what might this look like? Well – it might be giving someone some quality time, sharing a meal, an act of kindness or a phone call to a forgotten friend. It could be treating your work colleagues (those you like and those you don’t) to a bag of jam doughnuts and some quality coffee (that would make my day!).

As the wine is poured out at that wedding, enriching the lives of the people, so we too are poured out to be a generous offering to the communities where we live to be a sign of God’s Kingdom.

And talking of glory, just last week we had some glory at Scargill. As the sun was setting I managed to take this picture of the chapel reflecting the sun off its windows – I love this photo, it reminded me as I have been writing this how we are called to reflect God’s generous love to all those around us. I reckon this could be very transforming…

For more details of events and holidays taking place at Scargill check out the programme here which now goes up to December 2013.

The Things That Give You Life

As a New Year begins Phil offers some advice on a good way to start your year…

Today is January the 6th, the Feast of Epiphany, the Wise Men have turned up and how are you doing with those New Year resolutions?

It seems to me that New Year resolutions are in general just a good way of pouring guilt upon ourselves. But perhaps what we can do this New Year is make sure to focus on those main priorities and make sure we get them into our life. The things that are most important to us, the things that give us life. Get those things in! I know from bitter experience that if you don’t do this it is hard to fit them into a life busy with a lot of schedules.

So if I was to give any advice, and this advice is as much for me as it is for anyone else – get those main priorities in first before any other well-meaning plans. For us as a community at Scargill at the start of this New Year we will be having a retreat this week. It is an opportunity to reflect, to pray, to rest and hopefully have some fun together. An opportunity to take stock and ask the big questions to talk about what gave us life this last year as well as what drained us and what have we learned from that.

At the start of this New Year we celebrate the Wise Men’s devoted, dedicated journey to Bethlehem to find the Christ-child. It was their main priority. It was what they wanted to do. Let’s make sure that in the same way we have got our life giving priorities at the top of the agenda. It could be working out holidays, days off, retreats, watching a film every Friday night with a glass of wine. Whatever it may be let’s get those life giving moments in early and everything else can fit around them.

Scargill is on Twitter! To check it out click here.