Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Where do I fit in?

Said in frustration with a slight rhythm  Oh oh oh oh oh

Back to normal Since going to 3Generate (Methodist Youth Assembly) a couple of weeks ago there has been something that has come up time and time again, in completely unrelated places and situations. Perhaps it isn't so odd considering the theme of 3Generate. Calling. Response. Promise.

But, I'm frustrated. Annoyed even. At the weekend I acknowledge that call that God has placed on my life. Or shall I say the call I believe God has placed on my life. Yet He still keeps bringing it up! I'm reading a blog, and then I discover that underneath it all it is about predestination, and where we are going. I turn up to youth group on Sunday and we talk about where God guides us and how. I end up talking about the calling I am living now. We watch Even Almighty, its based around the story of Noah. It shows how God does use us, and how His plans are mightier than ours. How we cannot work against God.

There is a great line in the film, where Even (think Noah) is talking to Morgan Freeman who plays God (very well if you ask me) and Even says "But what about my plans?!" And God just laughs "Your plans??"

And this is my frustration. I have given up on some plans to try and follow this calling. I mean, university! I might not have done very well there, but think of the fun I could have had, a bit more care free living (sorry if this is not actually how uni is!) I wanted to be a doctor! Then I realised I was no good at chemistry, I wanted to work out in the fields. Instead right now I am working in a shop, selling stuff for people who go (or pretend to) and play and work in the fields. You've called me, and I've said yes. But I'm not there yet.

There are other things that I've planned that I cannot give up. I'm prepared to postpone them somewhat, but not completely. Maybe this is what is stopping things. That I'm not giving everything to You? But you know me better than anyone else, and you know that I cannot do this alone. And I'm worried if I start this alone, I won't ever find someone to walk next to me physically as we walk spiritually side by side.

I wholeheartedly believe that you have put 2 calls on my life. One for you, and another to family life. So I'm frustrated that I'm only feeling the emphasis on one of those. And even then that seems to be moving slowly. That might have something to do with the fact I'm writing this, and not an essay.

Am I being too selfish? Probably. Am I looking at the bigger picture? Probably not. But when I feel called into ministry, why do I have to do so much jumping through hoops?! Again, this is very short-sighted of me. But that is where my frustration lies. That I will end up exercising and practising one call, and not the other.

I do not want to end up with no one to share my journey with. I don't want to come home to an empty house. I want it to be filled with laughter and joy. I know that is what you want to. So my question is when?

You've given me a massive push this last couple of weeks. Please help me a little more. Give me time to find out what to do next. Give me the time and wisdom to write these essays. Because I honestly don't know what the next step is.

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
Now I surrender.

That is some of my frustration. I fear being alone. Help?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Where do we fit in?

Recently I have been so amazed by the impact that young people have had. Particularly young Christians. I had the privilege to take part in 3Generate (Methodist Children and Youth Assembly) which just demonstrated how passionate and enthusiastic young people are to change the world we live in. Then following on from that we saw the Twitter Remembrance service, born and nurtured into a full service in under 24hours!

I was very disappointed to then find that there was no coverage of MYA in the Methodist Recorder following the weekend. I appreciate that there was a lot of hard work by a lot of people, but would it have been difficult for the MR to send a journalist?

It did make me wonder where young people sit in our priorities. This is not intended to be a dig at anyone. I should make that clear.

Methodist Recorder managed to send someone to report from the World Methodist Council and Conference in Durban, but couldn't get anyone to report from Kidderminster the Youth Assembly. A project that Conference have ploughed so much money into.

And that is so encouraging. The fact that Conference is prepared to take so much risk in young people, and provide such a powerful and supportive weekend for us. It is quite clearly high on their priorities, and I have witnessed this through my involvement in Conference and Council. But is this reflected in our churches, and communities?

There is so much bad press around young people today, but actually I don't believe they are the problem. They have no role models. Their parent's are part of the problem. We have let society slip, we aren't their challenging people's language, and action. People do not realise when they offend a white person. Or a Christian. Yet as soon as another faith or race is offended, we do all we can to resolve the situation.

Do we as Christians still have a voice in our communities? Do we look to the future, do we take risks. Or do we just let other people take the risks, and ignore what we can do? Should we have a louder voice, tell people how we feel? Should we scream when we don't like things? Or should we keep everything as it is?

Where do we fit in?

In my involvement in Youth Assembly, and other Connexional Meetings I have been so convinced the Methodist Church is up to something. Combined with phrases such as 'Revival Generation' and the feeling of the spirit moving amongst young people, I can't help but wonder. When we will challenge people?

Where do we fit into our world today?

Edit - I am aware that a report will feature in the Recorder on 17/11/11

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Calling. Response. Promise

Last year at Methodist Youth Assembly we had these great coloured perspex hanging signs (I'm sure they have a proper name!) that encouraged us to Think. Talk. (and) Be. This year we had them again, and it proved a wonderful focal point for me. But we developed the theme further. We thought about Calling. Response. (and God's) Promise.

I missed the Friday evening due to travelling, and the chaos that that was! But if they do hold these things North of London! Anyway, that means I missed the focus around Calling. But I don't think that mattered.

I arrived at Kidderminster (an hour late) to find a very relieved Grace and some people from London as they were waiting in a taxi for me to go to the centre where we were staying. It was great to catch up with Grace, through snatched conversation over a seat (I was in the front, she was behind me).

When we arrived at the Pioneer Centre, it was time to catch up with people, but also collect our collective thoughts on the workshop Grace and I were going to lead on Saturday. Luckily I work best to a deadline last minute, so I could work through the worries that Grace had, and we had a great plan. Just needed to put it into action!

Hopefully that is the 'diary' bit done, and now some thoughts.

Saturday was all about response. We had a great time of informal and reflective worship after breakfast. This really rooted everything we did in worship and prayer, something I was very glad of at Conference and it really pleased me to see Youth Assembly fully committed to doing everything in and through Christ.

This year, the age group for 3Generate (Methodist Children and Youth Assembly) was expanded, and then divided into 3 streams, 9-13 14-17 and 18+ (up to 23). There was some apprehension from people beforehand, but this worked really well! It was great as an 18+ to have the independence, and choice. Not just to engage with issues in workshops, but to be able to have led bible study. This was a really useful time for me. And led in such a great way!

We of course spent time as our response looking at ways we could change and challenge the church and the world we live in. It was really interesting and encouraging seeing lots of the stream engaging with these workshops, and looking at ways we can make a difference. Because we can, and it was great that this was accepted by all.

I loved the whole weekend. It really was great. There were however, some stand out moments for me. One of these was the late night worship on Saturday. This was based around a traditional Methodist thing - a Lovefeast. This started with a few worship songs, led by Jon Green (@oschaplaincy) and part way through everyone in the room had got themselves into a circle. Incredible. The Vice-President of Conference (Ruth Pickles) gave us an amazing testimony from 8 years of her life where she really struggled. It was so humbling to hear these words, spoken with such strength and love, without anger. Incredible. We then moved into the Lovefeast proper. I helped to facilitate a group and it was so great to help young people share their story together.

Sunday morning worship has got to be the moment of the weekend. We shared in communion, and then Jo Cox (@revjoannecox) spoke with passion and engaged with us all (Well certainly me) The idea was to focus on what happens when we respond to our call. The promise of God. Jo managed to recap the whole weekend, calling, reponse and then elaborate on promise.

Jo invited us to respond to the weekend, by selecting things from a bowl at the front. I was humbled when one of the young people in the group I talked with the night before came up to me and asked me to tie a thread (one of the responses) around her wrist. She thanked me for what I had done to. I didn't feel like I had done anything, other than say don't be afraid to explore! I was so humbled. This really was a great moment.

The great thing about events like this is coming together with old friends, getting to know people better. It was great to catch up with friends, and make new ones in the presence of God. And God really was present. The whole weekend was the encouragement I needed. Worship on Sunday was AMAZING! No exaggeration there.

Apologies if this is muddled, and doesn't really make sense, but I still haven't properly reflected on the weekend enough! All I can say is something is happening. And it will be young people who are the change makers.

We Thought. We Talked. Now we are Being. We are Called. We will Respond. And we will receive God's Promise

3Generate was worth all the travel problems!