Thursday, February 03, 2011

The problem with culture

So Saturday seemed to be spent grappling with the problems of culture. More specifically where the church sits within modern culture and how the church speaks into modern culture. Acknowledging that we now live within post-Christendom the latter is increasingly hard to do. The church is no longer an influence on many peoples life. As a minister I suppose that I should grieve for that day but to be honest I don't. In fact waking up to that fact I believe can liberate the church or more importantly set faith free.

This is not an issue of theology of ecclesiology but one of faith. We as Christians I believe are charged with making disciples. Encouraging others to share a journey that is walked with Jesus. Studying his life trying to understand how God wants us to live alongside one another. Understanding that God wants to have a relationship with us.

So much of what we do in the church has nothing to do with this, yes some of the other stuff we do is important and I guess the statement I have made above is not all encompassing but it is a starting point it gets us to the heart of what matters.

Sadly, the church seems to have exalted itself above Christ, it has fallen into the trap of thinking that it is the church that is important, not the faith it gathers to proclaim. If we can get back to sharing faith and not maintaining institution, if church can once again be the place where we give praise and thanks to God, feel encouraged and equipped and challenged as to how we should serve and share our faith, then surely we will then be more authentic towards our own faith and be better placed to share it in the culture that we all are, after all, part of. Or as Paul puts it:

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Failing Forward

I started the Mission Shaped Ministry course last Tuesday. They encouraged us to keep a journal. Many have gone before them and encouraged me to do that and they didn't succeed. Perhaps I'm mellowing. perhaps I've run out of the energy to argue, perhaps I'm just putting off that which I really need to be doing who knows? Regardless of the reason here I am, my attempt at recording my thoughts.

It is two hours before the church weekend at home, we are looking at mission, how it has changed in a post modern, post Christendom society, what should the response of the church be? Perhaps I'm in the wrong place, my glass is half empty. I just can't help shake the feeling. What is the point, why go through the motions, what will change as a result of our efforts. People will still argue over chairs, flowers, coffee and the myriad of other tiny insignificant details and fail to argue or debate the challenge the gospel presents. Mission will still be how much we should give to Christian Aid or the church on the council estate down the road.

The MSM course on Tuesday encouraged us to be prepared to fail. Fail but fail forward for failing forward means we learn from our experience we grow, we carry on trying new initiatives because of our past experiences and not despite of them.

So I'll go tonight, I'll offer my presentation I'll argue in favour of the large body of evidence and hope that by Sunday lunch time God may just have challenged some people to think and act a little differently. At least if I fail I will have done going forward!

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's been a while........

..... since I posted anything on here. In a sense I'm almost reluctant to do so now, however, I need to regain the habit of undertaking thoughtful writing (yes believe it or not I have put some thought into it).

I guess what has really prompted me to write was reading a story about how the rural communities of Cumbria have coped in the wake of the atrocious shootings that took place last week. In it a local GP said this 'we're not Northern Ireland, we're not Moss Side, we're not used to dealing with major trauma and yet we have to deal with a gunshot wound'.

Now please don't misunderstand me I am not diminishing in anyway the trauma that he and others have faced in anyway. I am not really picking on his words, words that were no doubt spoken in the middle of crisis. However, they do highlight the general perception that because a community deals with trauma on a regular basis they are somehow better equipped to deal with it.

I had the privilege of spending a couple of years working with the communities of Moss Side. It allowed me an opportunity to talk with them, journey alongside them and gain a small insight into the feelings of that community. It is a community who are desperately proud, a close community, a community where neighbours still talk to one another and develop friendships. In many ways if you forget the the post industrial landscape in which Moss Side sits you can see many similarities between here and how we are led to believe the communities in Cumbria relate to one another.

The problem is, as the GP in Cumbria points out, at times of tragedy everybody hurts. When a young man or woman is shot on the street, people know them, they have friends, neighbours and family near by. The community grieves, they are no more equipped to deal with it just because it happens more often. They still have to wait for ambulances (at least 30 minutes because ambulances need to be taken in by armed police) they still long for it to be different.

However, it is out of their experience they can help the community of Cumbria. For the people of Moss Side refuse to allow the young men with the guns be the only ones allowed to tell the story. They live everyday to retell the story of a different kind of community. A community which has at its heart the principles of love and concern for one another. They are people who stand side by side, who try to teach their children, their future generations that only when we set to one side the ways of violence and hatred will we truly grow and flourish.

Cope? No they don't cope any better, they have however, learned how violence and tragedy will never be allowed the final say.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Enemy - Away From Here

I'm so sick, sick, sick and tired
Of working just to be retired
I don't want to get that far
I don't want your company car
Promotions aint my thing
Name badges are not interesting
It's much easier for me see
To stay at home with Richard and Judy

Awayaway oh oh oh away from here...
Awayaway oh oh oh away from here
Awayaway oh oh oh away from here
Awayaway oh oh oh away from here

My big girl is getting away from here, well for two weeks anyway as she is off to Taiwan. I suppose she is going quite far and in that respect the lyrics don't work, but you get the point. Anyway follow her travels here and see how she gets on. The trip is with the United Reformed Church to build up relationships with the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. It should be interesting to see how she gets to grips with chopsticks and over comes her phobia of spiders!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Guillemots - Take Me Home

When all the world's been dreaming
I've been burning all my feelings
I wish that I was dreaming too
I wish I was asleep

Oh, take me home
Take me home
Take me home
Take me home
Take me home

Been a strange day today, all I have wanted to since I got up was to go back to bed. Not really because I was tired rather because I didn't want to engage with the world. I just wanted to shut the doors, draw the curtains and hideaway. Instead however, I had a meeting all morning followed by lunch, the meeting was ok but still I wanted to be at home. This Sunday's reading is Mark 6 v 30 - 34, 53 - 56 Jesus and the disciples withdraw to pray, perhaps this is where I am at. A busy few days with work and family and perhaps now I need to recharge physically, emotionally and spiritually. Instead tomorrow I have a plan setting meeting and then into school for a meeting with the headteacher. Perhaps I can find time to be still at some point, I know that I need to spend time being and not just doing but at times if someone would only just Take Me Home.

Lord God, in the busyness of our days help us to stop and listen for your voice. Remind us that it is your strength we serve and not in ours, so help us to learn to rest in your presence and find refreshment in you.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Editors - Sing When You're In Love

On dance floors from London to Liverpool
In the dark of the night when the air is cool
Out in the street in the pouring rain
In a concrete jungle that echoes your name

In a hundred hotel rooms where a few hundred sleep
In a thousand cheap boozers where young lovers meet
In a million miles of traffic jams we waste away time
In a single sad moment when we say our goodbyes

Sing when you're in love

Have I mentioned before how much I love my wife? Have I mentioned before how proud I am of my wife? Well just in case I haven't here goes.

Today was K's graduation having taken the bold decision to go back to university, she not only passed but passed gaining a 1st class honours degree! So today we attended the graduation ceremony at the Bridgewater Hall, K (not so young anymore but still junior), H and R all came too and were also so proud of their Mum, what a role model. A great day enjoyed by us all.

I am so proud of her and simply love her so much. She worked hard continued to struggle through difficult times, produced the most incredible dissertation and proved to everyone else a fact I already new, that she is amazing. K I love you and I am so proud of you.

So as the song suggests I am singing loudly.

Lord God, thank you for wives, they rock!

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Friday, July 10, 2009

The Kooks - Shine On

Shine, shine, shine on
Wont you shine, shine on
(Sha la la la)
Shine, shine, shine on
Wont you shine, shine on

The coming weekend see's a church social and bbq for one church and a gardening afternoon and bbq for the other. The first hopes to raise funds for a Romanian family we support, the second came out of our alternative worship where we thinking about how we could show our neighbours that we cared. I hope that the sun will SHINE but having seen the weather forcast perhaps my prayer should be along different lines.

Lord God, we pray that you will SHINE on our lives, bless us as we share fellowship together and remind us always to be an inclusive community ready to welcome those whom we meet on our journey.

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