Wednesday, August 30, 2006

greenbelt 06

Had a good time at Greenbelt. Was somewhat unsure about stuff before going really. I guess I hadn't given it a lot of thought, and all of a sudden it was there, and I was going.

Went to hear Shane Claiborne, who I had heard at Spring Harvest back at Easter, and whose book I finally finished reading at Taize. He was very good, though I have to admit most of the stories he told I had either heard before or had read in his book, "Irresistible Revolution", which is very good. You should read it.

Also went to hear Jim Wallis a couple of times as well, including his informative and thought provoking talk on terrorism. Music-wise I enjoyed Courtney Pine, Daniel Bedingfield, Verra Cruz and Brian Houston.

I have to admit that up until Sunday night I didn't really feel that anything had particularly challenged me. Then I went to the 'Ikon'-led service on the theme of Fundamentalism. (Jonny Baker has blogged briefly on this, a few people have added their comments, and it would be no surpise if others followed suit). There were various parts to this service, obviously designed to stimulate and provoke. It did that. Speaking to friends after the service, and the following day, there were a range of opinions. Some felt it was all a bit pretentious for the sake of it, and I can see their point. Some felt it needed a bit more explaining. I don't know.

I think it served a purpose in that it got people talking, but I'm not quite convinced exactly what people are going to be talking about - the service itself or the theme and the message presented throughout the service. We shall see.....Anyway, I liked the fact that I was challenged to reflect about the way I believe, and the way I might view others beliefs.

I also really enjoyed catching up with a few old friends from back in Birmingham. It was good to spend time, not just reminiscing for the sake of it, but catching up, hearing where people are up to now, and for me at least, reflecting on my journey over the past few years. One thought that has spanned the summer, from Taize to Greenbelt, has been this kind of 're-discovering who I am', being reminded of things which in the past I have said "this is important to me, and to who I am". This train of thought is one which I want to pursue a bit more, and may blog about in due course.

end of the summer?

Having come back from Greenbelt today, it now really does feel like the end of the summer. There's so many thoughts going round in my head at the moment - reflections from Greenbelt, reflections from Taize earlier in the summer, wonderings about where life is heading etc etc.

One of the things I really found helpful at Greenbelt was the Taize worship services on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. One song which was sung at at least two of the services, was "In manus Tuas, Pater":
In manus tuas, Pater, commendo spiritum meum
Into your hands, Father, I commend my spirit
This trusting things to God has been something on my mind particularly over the summer, including when I lost my mobile phone at Greenbelt. Thankfully it was handed in to the lost property place, and I was able to reclaim it, but the thought of losing my phone, with the contacts for both my social and professional lives was quite overwhelming.

But having sung that song at the Taize service, after which I discovered I had lost my phone, the feeling of being overwhelmed really didn't last that long. It was just a natural thing to say "ok God, I need some help here, I need a miracle here" and God did His stuff, and my phone is sitting next to me now, dried out from the rain and working fine.

I want to take this trusting on into my work life over the next few months and beyond.....

truth isn't sexy

 The Truth Isn't Sexy

Go check this out, if you havn't already done so.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

the weekend starts here

Am off to Greenbelt tomorrow morning. At last. It's been a mixed week, for a variety of reasons which I really can't be bothered to go into now. I've been looking forward to Greenbelt for a while, and I still am, though I'm knackered before I even arrive.....not sure I'm gonna catch up on sleep while I'm there. Oh well.

Most looking forward to the Taize stuff, Daniel Bedingfield, Courtney Pine and also the magicians from channel 4 who did the miracles of Jesus series. Last year I made the mistake of going to too much stuff. This year I don't intend to make the same mistake again....ok, so I may be forced to take those words back in due course. Also hoping to hear Shane Claiborne, Walter Wink and Dave Andrews, all of whose books I have read in recent years.

Just need to pack now. And sleep in a bed for the last time for a few days. And possibly have a shower for the last time in a few days!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


While I was at Taize I went to a fantastic talk by one of the brothers (br Hector), about how we can know that call God has placed on our lives. Throughout the talk I was busy scribbling away, trying to note down as much as possible. I found the talk very helpful, and it cetainly influenced my reflections for the rest of my time at Taize, especially during the week in silence.

What allows me to discover how God is calling me? How do I find my way?

There is no magical answer, each of us is unique therefore there are no ready-made answers.

Luke 5:4-11

God created things with a purpose, with meaning. Creation is not an accident. We are created as part of a larger story.

Jesus entered the lives of the fishermen, and widened their horizons, so God enters our lives and widens our horizons, opening our eyes to a whole new future. God places our lives in a wider context.

Jer 29:11 We are made for hope, not for hopelessness

God’s project for humanity is a project of love. God wishes us to participate in this project, to be inventive and creative, to be co-creators with him. God’s work of creation is not finished. God does not force us to choose one way or the other, rather He invites us to fulfil His project with Him. God places in our hearts the desire to love.

Maybe some things will remain a mystery. Jesus believes Simon Peter is able to go beyond himself. So too are we able to go beyond what we currently think we are able to do.

So what do I want to do with my life? My life finds its meaning when I participate in God’s wider plan.

What gifts have I got? God’s call is not abstract. God calls us through our own story, through who we are.

God cares about each individual (Luke 15). It is NOT logical or efficient. It is Gospel economics. We must really believe that ‘God loves me’, not just everybody en masse.

In the Bible, names signify who people really are, their true self. When God calls us by, He calls us by name, by our deepest identity.

So how do we discover who we really are? What is my deepest desire?

Desires are not all bad. We must have the courage to confront our desires, to accept that we cannot have everything, to look at our deepest desires. What are my likes? What are my fragilities? Where in my life do I need God? We must get to know ourselves. God works through who we are. We must learn what our gifts are and be willing to share something of ourselves.

We need space for us to be honest. By being listened to we begin to listen to ourselves. We cannot know everything about ourselves. There are times when we will have to take risks. But the reality of God’s love cannot be taken away.
You do not choose your name, your identity etc. God gives you your name. God knows us more than we know ourselves.

When God calls us there can be resistance. This resistance can, though not always, be a sign of having been touched. But then, how do we break through this resistance and go beyond our fears. It can be in this struggle that we discover who we are (like Jacob). We shouldn’t run away from the struggle.

God can use everything for good, even our sin.

“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Ireneus

“Wherever there is a human being, God is present.” Br Roger

In the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), he comes to himself, came to his senses, he realises who he is.

In summary:

1. Get to know yourself.

2. Make a decision – in times of joy and peace, not in times of struggle.

3. At certain times we must take risks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

back from taize

Got back home from Taize on Monday, having caught up on a bit of sleep, answered some emails, wrote some dissertation, thought it might be nice to post on here again.

Had a great time at Taize, will blog more about it in due course. I was there for two weeks this time, the second of which I did in silence (eek). It went well. Again, it's something I might blog about in due course, but I'm still processing some of what I was thinking about.

While I was away however, this happened. Fantastic. I can't remember the last time Chesterfield scored 5 goals in a match.

In the next couple of weeks I'll be writing some more dissertation, helping out at a summer school in our local secondary school, and going to Greenbelt. V much looking forward to it.