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Archive for September, 2008

Following on from my well recieved (amongst some quarters at least) “you know you’re a Staff Worker when…”. I was driving home tonight and several thoughts came to mind. I share them with you. Enjoy at your leisure, any complaints can be made to the usual address…

You know you’re not a UCCF Staff Worker when…

You find yourself in one place, for an entire month.

You don’t drive to 10 different places in one week.

You’ve slept in your own bed for an entire month.

You haven’t been to 5 conferences already and show no sign of freshers flu, or trench foot from the mud at Forum.

At the end of the day when you mentally calculate the hours you’ve spent with students, you realise that it doesn’t matter, it’s not your job anymore.

You fill your car with petrol every 2 weeks instead of every 2 days.

You suddenly have free evenings, free evenings, to play, to see friends, to get involved with church.

Doing Bible Study seems like fun, not work.

You find yourself thinking, oo maybe I will put some Christian music on the ipod, I haven’t heard any for a while.

(to be fair, there are a whole lot more things I could write that I really do miss about not being on Staff anymore, I miss the people, the banter, the talking to people who have way bigger brains than me who love Jesus way more than I do who inspire me to more…)

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Katherine (small four year old, sitting on my bedroom floor going through my CD collection): “Where are the girls? I want to listen to girls.”

She finds Blondie and puts it on: Cue small dancing and a declaration: “I like this one”

Eddi Reader, the Indigo Girls, Five, The Eels, The Eagles, Corine Bailey Rae, Johnny Cash, Norah Jones and Kate Rusby were all put on the CD player. Katherine, after pausing thoughtfully, head on one side, listening intently, seeing if she could do a little boogie to each one, decided after each one: “This is good, this is”. A sound endorsement. Norah even warranted a replay.

She was less enamored with Bob Dylan, Franz Ferdinand Elbow and Afro Celt Soundsystem. (well who could blame her)

Other cute moments of the afternoon: Katherine, looking around the house and wondering where the others are who live here: “Where are your people?”

And finally on leaving: “I love everyone in your house.” Mwah.

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Why I love my Church.

There are many reasons I love this new family I have become part of in the last few months. Mostly it’s because we are small and stupid. We’re trying to work out how to love each other in the mess of broken lives. That means nothing looks particularly neat or polished. Heartbreak is out in the open. We aren’t so stuck behind polite walls. Of course we are some of the time but that’s part of our brokenness.

In the last 48 hours I have been prayed for and have prayed for others,  I’ve been encouraged through texts, e-mail and verbal communication (that’s clearly a phrase from the application forms…), I’ve reminded others of the wonder of our God, I’ve not wanted to do that, I’ve said things I shouldn’t have done,  I’ve attended our meetings and encouraged someone by just turning up, I’ve stuck addresses on envelopes because I’ve had the time and I’ve had many hugs.  I’ve been honest with people and haven’t been allowed to hide away in tiredness or in fear. In short I’ve been part of a giant collective WE (no there isn’t another ‘e’ lying around that sentence…).

That’s why I love my church, because we are together in this. It’s hard to sum it up into words, this feeling of family, of sharing lives with each other, of real love that goes beyond me and ends up free in the love and care of each other. Jesus’ ways really are best. His commitment to turning from His path and walking someone else’s is the Way in which to follow. The way we get to be most human in this life.

As ever Martyn Joseph sums it all up way better than I could.

“This is us, we, you and me together we are home..

We’re a stupid man, a dreamer
Got fire in a soul
A fighting, writing, wronging
A broken God shaped hole
Stand with you in the desert
Walk with you on the path
And the truth is I’m not joking
And I hope that you won’t laugh

This is us, we, you and me together we are home..

Bring on all the doubter’s
And those who know too much
To gather in the darkness
And find a common touch
Got no doubt we need  justice
Got no doubt we need some faith
Got no doubt that loves a mystery
I’m holding on to the tails of her grace

This is us, we, you and me together we are home..

I walked upon a treasured land
We all stood on her stage
We all sound checked together
A laughing holy rage
Some sang into each others eyes
Some sang to the ground
We were lost there when we started
But now we can be found

This is us, we, you and me together we are home…”

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1st Week.

Recently I have noticed that this fair blog is becoming much more of a diary and there are less posts wittering on about the Maker of this world, the nature of trusting Him and how stinking hard it all is. Well that’s probably because I’ve said it all before… There aren’t many more ways in which to articulate the struggles of life, the mystery of the Maker of the world and the wonder of His love through all the crap. There will always be new situations to try and believe that in though. That is what I face right now.

I face the new state of being unemployed for a while (I hope not too long). I was reading some of Henri Nowen (genius thinker/writer) on holiday,  he  talked about the major transition periods of his life and how they gave him space to think and reflect on his identity and who on earth God is in these new situations, asking questions like “who is God?” and “where is God?”.  He describes these times as interruptions, with space to go beyond the normal constraints of daily living and find a deeper reality beyond the normal things that made up life. I certainly feel like I’m in one of those interruption times at the moment.

The challenge is to work through the questions here, in a world taken away from the things that normally have brought me comfort and made up my identity over the last five years. Through this new landscape I ponder: Who is God here? What is He like here? Will I know new things about him? Will there be old things I need to remember? Will this life be more authentic or merely different? Who am I with no role, no label? Will I still want to live this life with God if it is not my job?

Already I sense some of the answers. I am in a family of believers who live and breathe calling attention to the reality of God in this world. It’s part of the language we speak, we talk to him about the mess of our lives, we love each other out of broken crap weak lives, we get frustrated and annoyed with each other, we laugh together, we don’t know much about each other, we know lots about each other, we try and hold out this truth we’ve been given, and we try and hold onto it ourselves. I constantly feel like I’m on a mission team and I really really like that. Life has colour and meaning in this state, purpose is found again and despite not having a job there isn’t a state of existential despair because meaning is found on such a deeper level than the externals of the circumstances of life.

Of course it’s going to get hard, but you know, I think UCCF has excellently prepared me for this state. I know how to organise my own time, I know how to fill days meeting people for cups of tea, encouraging others, reading things, faffing around on the internet and talking to the Maker of the world. The sad thing is I’m not getting paid to do it anymore.

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