Through the detached youth work we have been in touch recently with a couple of young people who left school to work, as quite lively Afro Samurai: Resurrection move young people they held down the job for a while or were one of the first to loose their job when the factory made cutbacks. These were always the type of young people who are always going to pursue work rather than training, or college, and possibly the most likley to struggle in the workplace. The issue is – if they were in training or college and left there would be a natural process for connexions to pick them up but for those in work there is no system, and I would argue that it may be these young people that are more in need of tracking. It took me five people and two phone calls of 20 minutes to find the right connexions advisor to put them in touch with, but if the yp dont visit, they will not be picked up unless they start trying to claim a benefit, (which at least one is adament he wont do) Talking to the advisor to question how they would get supported or if connexions would know if they lost lost their job the simple matter was they wouldnt, for at least a year till the next check up point. Talk about a big gap in the net for young people.
I recently read a book by Simon Parke called Desert Depths, which is the story of a vicar visiting a desert monastery. Each of the brothers/sisters has a name that they have come to own and this is the theme I want to use
First – A question to hold – by this I mean it is not a question that you should seek to answer by logic or theology but simply to hold, in your heart.
How do you approach mission – a desert or oasis?
As we pray today spend time reflecting on the names given to the residents of the monastery in the book
Peter the fool is the abbott, “seeks enlightenment above grace, expertise above mercy, wisdom above love,”
Dalip the empty – who cared, gave advice, and felt he was put on the planet to help others, yet in the desert came to realise it masked an inner emptiness, and though he got to know his soul and changed he didn’t change his name because “instincts remain” and “the desert likes accurate names”
Santos the flighty the hermit called so as he searched from one idea to another for enlightenment never realising the depths any.
Bernadette the chisel – in her there is “a critic a judge, who judges her and others, it drives her to do but never says to her ENOUGH”
Lets pray for one another and the journeys we face, our defaults and the surfaces of our lives that this week God may show us new depths.
Finally when you reflected on the names was your instinct to identify yourself with their names or the reasoning for their names? As you hold the question we first set How do you approach mission – a desert or oasis? Remember the “the desert likes accurate names”
One of the young people lent us a new worship song compliation. After some hesitancy I thought I would give it a go. I thought I know it is not my cup of tea but I should have a listen with an open mind.
It was good to hear one song that was focussed on justice and mercy in the refrain but the rest was very samey, in terms of style and language, do these people listen to westlife all day. I gave it a go but I just dont get it, the young person who gave it me would not spend all day listening to westlife or singing their stuff but to me the sound and the structure seems so similar to many of their recent tracks even down to the key changes. (opps i have just admitted listening to westlife in my defence this is because i spend a lot of time inthe car with radio two on – which i dont mind admitting I listen to)
Maybe Westlife are more cutting edge than I gave them credit for!333999
James Henley one of the students on CYM had a great reflection as we sat around the dinner table so I asked if he would put it together as a guest post. James blogs here Monster-in-Law move if you want to check it out.
I had some interesting thoughts (mainly questions) during a conversation over lunch at CYM about heaven and hell, and in particular to do with universalism. Although Iâ€™m not completely sold on the concept of universalism, I also equally think that our conventional reasoning around heaven and hell needs to be thought out more thoroughly. So here are some of my thoughtsâ€¦
The conventional Christian understanding of the end times is that God is so perfect that he canâ€™t have sin â€“ evil, bad stuff, imperfection â€“ in his presence. So by accepting him and the cross we are purified of this sin and so as perfect, complete people, we can enter his presence.
But if the major theme across the whole gospel is self-sacrifice â€“ the sacrifice of God sending His son to be confined to a human body, and then the self-sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross for us â€“ then why would the same God not make the sacrifice of allowing sin into His presence? Surely, that wouldnâ€™t be one sacrifice too far? If we believe in an omnipresent God whose presence is all around us in the world â€“ then surely He is already in the presence of sin in the interactions he has with us. Even if God isnâ€™t â€œwalking amongst usâ€ as he did in the garden, in order to be with us â€“ in everything â€“ he also must have to be in the presence of all the bad stuff in the world?
Down with colds! Down with colds! Down with colds! Down with colds!
Colds are rife in our family at the moment, and just hoping that they dont develop into more flu stuff. So as for me and my household we say…….
Down with colds!
I was thinking about the close proximity in the bible text between when Jesus says to Peter he is the rock on which He will build the church and Jesus’ rebuke to Peter for thinking of the ways of man not God. Matt 16 v13-23
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
How easy it is for our human visions and versions of church to have in mind the things of men or women and not in mind the things of God and so become a stumbling block on the path to Christ.In Her Shoes buy Autumn move Trainwreck: My Life as an Idiot ipod
I have an inkling that much of what we call mission (youth or otherwise) in the UK (west) is not rooted in sound missiology but rather unconsciously influenced by western culture. In an individualistic consumer driven society where people gain identity from brands and their positioning in the world, much of the mission we undertake is individualistically focused and even some of the service based community initiatives are consumer driven they can consumed either by the participants or those receiving. We have lost the missionary call to go to communities and grow expressions of church within the community, we have lost the art of balancing our service to the community with the building of intentional relationships, lost the balance of speaking of God and being Christlike. There a number of possible reasons:
– the cumulative effect of culture on the church
– it is short cut and costs less in terms of time and commitment
– we are in the in-between time where there are still churches so the focus is on the individual and calling them to join existing communities of faith
– in a similar vein a failure to embrace the reality of the current state churches/ and most denominations resulting in a rearranging of the deckchairs on the titanic
mentality rather than a willingness to get out of the boat
– existing communities of faith wrongly think that they reflect the wider communities they are placed in
– a lack of discipleship and cheap christianity
– a focus on teaching and singing rather than space for mission and experiments in being inclusive faith communities
– a selfish desire not to been seen as hypocritical that dis-empowers us from action and challenge.
The reason for the title for this post is that we have lost much of the raw reality of Christianity (VERY aware I am sitting in my comfortable house on my laptop typing) and as such the raw missionary impetus to go and be and see what happens. More that this the need to deconstruct our faith before we go, and to go whilst we are still deconstructing, to go with our questions, so that our being reflects our questions and so allowing what happens to be fresh and raw.
I sit here thinking okay so how does this work in the real world? If i brought this to a local church what would the response be? Well first if they were up for the challenge the focus would be on the deconstruction bit; as teaching is overly loaded in most churches and familiar and comfortable – I expect they would opt for a series of teaching weeks to get their heads around it and then maybe something would happen. This is not raw Christianity, it would be sanitised, packaged. After the death of Moses God tells Joshua and the people (all xxx thousand of them) they have three days to prepare and then they will enter the promised land. Can you imagine trying to prepare to go to war, emigrate, move your whole family and community in just three days? All the time still grieving for a leader who has died and being unsure of the guy taking his place. These people went with questions, they went with their whole worldview turned upside down, they went with little preparation all of which caused them to go with faith.
I usually take a bit of time out at the start of the year to reflect on life etc, and the main reflection is that I am aware of the lack of time I have had in the past year, to reflect for myself and the likelihood of finding time this year is scary. Looking back on my blog posts I think there were too many posts highlighting what others have said or passing on news and whilst the original posts are important there is a quote below from Henry Thoreau that comes to mind.
“when our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper or been told by a neighbour; and for the most part the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper or been out to tea and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails we go more constantly and desperately to the post office. You may depend on it that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters proud of his extensive correspondence has not heard from himself in a long while.”
Whilst it seems a contradiction to use the quote, it serves to remind me of the need to find time.
Happy New Year.
I have pretty much stopped melting and apart fom a twitchy eye and slightly slurred speech and back to normal.