Friday Music

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My youngest son’s musical education continues apace. He has an unquenchable appetite for new and different.

He overheard me playing this in the car and was attracted by the strangeness of the estuary English, and then began to refer to it as ‘the gay song’. We got into a few discussions about sexuality,why using the word ‘gay’ as abuse is not good and how some people are attracted to people of the same sex.

Mostly we just listened and liked it and marvelled at the way Billy Bragg uses rhymes. This is one of my favourite ever:-

‘I had an uncle who once played,

for Red Star Belgrade,

He said ‘somethings are best left unspoken,

I’ve left your aunt & run off with the postman’.

I have not yet begun to explain the tradition of left wing protest songs but we will get there: the Force is strong in this one.

More on the holiday club.

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I loathe that phrase ‘I’m loving it’ as it seems so trite, so American, so cliched…. but I am loving this holiday club.

I still want to lie down and sleep & tomorrow, hopefully sitting on Rhos on Sea Prom, I will be making the kind of ‘aaaah’ noises that I associate with profound relaxation.

But… I have really liked it:-

– a team giving up their own time and doing something for others instead of heading off for a ‘well deserved break’ (why do we have to justify ‘break’ with ‘well deserved’ anyway?)

– kids having lots of fun.

– conversation: catching up with children and their families & making new links.

-watching people using their gifts.

-talking about faith.

-Building community.

-The sense of faith being tested to the limit-will this actually come off? I don’t think it will. We should cancel. Give it a few more days. I am not sure- but let’s try it. It is happening.

-Being able, unashamedly, to invite others to something done in the name of ‘church’.

And; in one of those ‘grinding gear moments’ that seem to happen in ministry, going from throwing myself around in front of a group of kids to getting into a speeding car and taking a funeral.

I am happy…

 

An unlikely ministry

I was talking with this minister the other week.

They had experienced a prolonged period of ill health due to a degenerative (non fatal) condition. Although they were back at work, this had to be carefully managed: pushing too far meant that ill health would return.

The person said that when they were fit and active, they would rush in and out of local shops etc in order to get what they needed so they could be off in a hurry to the next meeting. When health broke down, this simple activity became much harder, they had to use a walking stick and slow down.

Something strange began to happen: people they once rushed passed began to talk with them. And, with this, they began to talk with others: mainly people who never came near a church. I think they said things about ‘getting to know people’, ‘being vulnerable’ and ‘chit chat’, but also the sense that they began to develop a ministry where one had not been before.

Ever since this conversation, I have begun to think deeply about what ‘ministry’ is and how it is more often found through things like slowing down, vulnerability and simple conversation than it is through ‘achievement’ and ‘success’.

Holiday Club

I confess to being a human being: that is rather shocking I know. Some ministers do not feel they are human beings: stopping & taking rest is for other people. Reading blogs etc it seems like  tiny minority of church members feel the same.

All I want to do today is lie down: the September/October cycle of business meetings has been gruelling. Give me a day of walking, messing around or watching junk tv.

So today, we start 3 mornings of a holiday club…

…and tired, disorganised & chronically underprepared as I am, I am really looking forward to it. The team is good & organised which covers for me, we have children coming (not quite as many as the last 2 years) and we will make/reinforce connections with a group of people, many with a sporadic or non existent link with a church.

I like doing this very much.

Another Baptism (s)

You wait ages for a Baptism then you get 2 (well 3: 2 today) in two weeks at the same church.

I wrote last week how I like these events: often people outside the church reaching out for something & trying to articulate what is precious about their children or about how they hope life could be. The way I play it now it is that it is my job to listen, explain and welcome.

Then there is the attempt to fuse church tradition; essential- I abhor gimmickry- & those who regularly come (We regulars have to take to heart the bit from the end of the story of the Prodigal Son said to the ungrateful older son-often us- ‘Son: everything I have is yours- now come and join the party’). And, if you are lucky, people respond in an unmediated way & you glimpse what Leonard Cohen sang: ‘There is a crack in everything- that’s how the light gets in’.

 

Rush

I am with Eugene Peterson on this one: ‘a busy minister’ should be an oxymoron: so often ‘availability’ gets confused with ‘activity. Things have got a little busy round here & they got busier still this week, but there could well be a resolution soon….

staggering

sweaty and parched

to the spring,

I gulped hurriedly;

enough to keep running.

 

All the time the soft green grass

and the sunblinding reflection

and the sound of rushing water

were whispering,

‘Stay’

‘rest’

‘drink deeply’

even;

‘the hope you are looking for is here’.

 

But I could not really hear for it was

just a murmur in a chorus of many loud voices.

 

So I kept moving.

I need

to

keep

moving.

Friday Music

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I confess: I have bought too much music recently. Actually: is it ever possible to buy too much music or even too many books?

As a result, I haven’t really listened to a lot of it: blame charity shops and downloading- plenty of cheap cds in charity shops.

Someone recommended this to me: not really my style but I like discovering the classics and being open to new things, although I confess the 90s shoegazing period passed me by.

I am not really sure whether to file this under ‘listen more’ or ‘marmite’- I don’t like Marmite.

 

Party

Another thing my colleague told me about this story was a tale about a church that is in a ‘hard’ area.

They take this parable seriously. If anyone new joins them, they alter their worship service and have a party: someone has come ‘home’.

I don’t know what that looks like, but wouldn’t you love to be part of a community that throws parties for outsiders and new comers?

…even if it meant throwing out its established order to do so.

You are mine

I was in a discussion last week about my favourite part of the Bible: Luke 15 & the story in there called by many other names, most notably ‘The prodigal son’.The day before I had been helping someone through it who was going to use it in an assembly.

I like this story so much & each time I read it I get something out of it. I don’t ‘tear up’ easily but this story does it every time for me.

What I most like in the story is the bit where the father runs out to embrace the son. I thought that was ‘nice’ until I learned the context: near Eastern fathers did not do that: it would involve showing knees and feet & showing incredible love to someone who had wished you dead (the demand to share the property).

Soon as you read it that way, it stops becoming a little morality tale that helps us live better: I couldn’t show forgiveness like that.

A colleague added something else to that picture: the son would have incurred the wrath of his community by asking for the property split and wishing his father dead. By rushing out, he is protecting him and saying to the community ‘he is mine’. He takes on his disgrace and makes him acceptable.

Then someone told me of a church that works in an area full of sex workers. They believe that when these people come to them and are a part of them, they are saying ‘these are ours.; they are ok.’

Working in a small community it is pretty easy to see those who get shoved to the edge or friendships that are built solely on people like me (we don’t want anyone else in). Reading this parable makes me think….there is another way, it costs, but it is so much better.

Go and embrace those ‘outside’; even if they don’t yet look like they want to come home..