Sunday, 19 October 2008

Baptist monk

On Saturday I presided at another induction, and while all inductions are different, this was significantly different.  First of all it was at one of our ecumenical congregations within an ecumenical parish in Milton Keynes, Christ Church, Stantonbury.  But what made this very different was the speaker.  Chris Howden, who was being inducted, had invited Brother Graeme, a Baptist monk from a Baptist monastery in Australia, to preach.

He was wonderful!  I can't remember hearing many sermons at an induction which included quotes from Irenaeus, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Simone Weill and Carl Jung.  He reflected at depth on the verse in Psalm 23 'He leads me to waters of stillness, he restores me to my self', to use his translation. And connecting this to the seventh day of creation, he spoke of the rest of God as 'a deep, abiding, healing, fertile stillness'.  

He gave a tantalising glimpse of his understanding of the Transfiguration of Jesus making a distinction between two kinds of glory: the glory that surrounded them, and the glory that emanated from Jesus, which was not about his divinity but his humanity, cue Irenaeus, we are not made for the glory of God but to be the glory of God.  To follow Jesus is not to ape Jesus but to be who we are meant to be.  

Brother Graeme is part of the Community of the Transfiguration and having Googled it, this is what I discovered:
Holy Transfiguration Monastery is a center of renewal in Breakwater, a working-class neighborhood of Geelong, a city of 200,000 on the west of Port Phillip Bay, in the state of Victoria in Australia. A compelling adaptation of historic Christian monastic traditions to contemporary life, the community is unique in that it continues the life and witness of a 135-year old Baptist congregation while drawing on classic sources of Christian monasticism.
To read more go here - fascinating stuff.  So welcome Chris & Brian Howden, and thank you for introducing us to Brother Graeme.


Sean Winter said...

Hi Geoff
The proximity of the Breakwater community to Melbourne was a part of the incentive for our move. I attended a baptism service there in 2003 which was truly extraordinary. If you ever make your way down to Oz, there will always be a bed chez nous, and lots of opportunity to meet interesting Baptists in that part of the world.

Geoff Colmer said...

Thanks Sean. You will be missed greatly. I hope you'll continue blogging.

Tim Norwood (A Vicar) said...

Hi Geoff
I missed most of the service because I had weddings and other things to do, but I did manage to sneak in at the back for the "baptist monk". Like you I was enthralled and googled him later - discovering the same web site you spotted. If you find out any more, do let us all know. This is all fascinating!
Tim N

monk said...

Have a look at our interdenominational list of 415 members for monastic subjects, spirituality, hesychasm, contemplation, info, news traditional and newer types of communities and monastics (such monastics in their own homes( at Here you'll find Teresa of Avila, Ireneaus, anglicans etc mentioned in the same sentence all the time! by real 24/7 contemplatives, monastics, hermits etc

John (monk)

Catriona said...

Sounds like a superb service and I'm sure the Howdens will bring great blessing to Stantonbury. Only sorry I couldn't be there as I was at a residential in Manchester. However Brian would have loved the fact that two of us at the residential- myself and a Methodist minister from MK were on the invitation list!