Archive for September, 2009

Nave Roof nearly complete

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

The high level part of the church roof is nearly complete. Today I went up to see how the work is progressing and took some more photos. It certainly gave me a different view of the church!

Some days I question…

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Sermon given on 20th September 2009
A meditation on Mark 9.30 – 37

There are some days when I question my Christian faith
and my commitment to following Jesus:
do I actually get this at all?
Do I honestly understand it?
Do I really live it?
And some days the answer is no.

So when I read that the disciples did not understand what he was saying to them and that they were even afraid to ask him their questions, then I am a little reassured that it is not just me.

Do you ever ask yourself the same questions?

Some times I can look at the church and its customs and traditions, its ceremonies and ways of doing things and I think isn’t this all just a little bit ridiculous? Sometimes when I’m stood up somewhere, wearing some fine robes and saying some words that don’t seem to connect with the people listening then I think: is this really what Jesus had in mind?

So when I read that Jesus’ friends whilst walking with him on the way of discipleship could argue about who was the greatest – I realise that the followers of Jesus have always been a bit mixed up when it comes to issues of power and status, issues of fitting in and being significant.

And I wonder what the church would look like if it stopped trying to be successful and gave the same energy to striving to be servant of all?

Some days it seems that there is always a story in the news
about what happened to ‘Baby P’;
or of a child being stabbed;
or  yet another story of abuse or neglect by adults or sometimes even other children;
and then once again I am reminded that
children actually are very vulnerable,
very dependent,
often victims when families break down
or where there is violence and abuse.

So when I read that Jesus took a little child and put it among them, placed it in the midst of them, set it in the centre of their community, then I try to see that child not as a symbol but a person. Children were at the bottom of economic and social scales in the ancient world – and they often still are even if we also often overly idealise childhood. Jesus took a real, human child and said this is your example, this is your pattern, this is your role model.

And this is the test…
Jesus says
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me…”
Whoever actually welcomes even one child,
whoever they may be and
however they may be behaving,
and however they make you feel…
Whoever genuinely welcomes one such child in my name,
out of their faith in me,
In a real sense “welcomes me”.

That’s what Jesus says.

But most days I find it much easier to welcome the people I like,
Easier to welcome someone who is like me…
easy to welcome someone who looks good,
who won’t be disruptive,
who won’t make any demands on me
or require me to change…

Genuine welcome requires something of me
because I am already in,
because I am already secure in our belonging,
because I have the resources, the experience,
and who know what to do and when…

I am aware that this makes it all sound like welcoming the child, the little one, the stranger is very costly and threatening. It can be. But it can also be joy, delight and gift.

The disciples did not understand and were afraid to ask their questions… and yet children have a wonderful capacity to ask challenging questions which draw out of me answers. So in the playground a little girl asks me “Revd Peter, why do they call Good Friday good?” And there is an opportunity to talk to her about how life is stronger than death and in the same way that Jesus talked to his friends to say something to her of how he had to suffer and die and rise again.

Children have a wonderful capacity to bring a breath of fresh air into a situation – to deflate my self-importance and bring me back down to earth. As a curate I remember a little boy in an RE lesson suddenly putting his hand up to say “Revd Peter, I can see your head through your hair”!

And children have the gift of being able to embrace you with unselfconscious affection.

It is as the gospel says. I can learn from them.

And if I can receive children,
If I can welcome and serve the little ones in society,
If I can give hospitality to strangers,
If I can allow myself to be disturbed then…
Then perhaps I might even be open to receive Jesus himself.

After all is that not what we celebrate at Christmas…
God made known to us in the person of a tiny, vulnerable child…
As the carol asks:
When he comes, when he comes, who will make him welcome?

And I remember too that in the last chorus of the same carol the words change…
When he comes, when he comes, we will make him welcome!

Youth Round-up: Summer 09

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

gocart1.jpg

Go-carting at Altitude!

FYT Live! – Frontier Youth Trust is an organisation that seeks to engage young people with the message of the Gospel in creative ways. At the beginning of July I was able to attend a training day they hosted at Christ Church, Selly Park. They gave presentations on a number of ways to work with young people, which included a session on spirituality. This is one of my own particular interests and I hope to develop some of my ideas further in the coming months, especially around Franciscan spirituality (see below). (more…)