Saturday, 25 April 2009

Splashing around, Spring Harvest and keeping Christ in the Centre

I'm really pleased to be writing from the comfort of my sofa today, slobbing out victoriously in chav style trackies and my cosy UEA christian union hoody. It's definately the only place in the world that I want to be right now, even on a Saturday night.

The last few weeks have been all about catching up with people, and catching up with work- the latter requiring far more motivation. I've never had so much to learn in such little time, and yet I've never been so chilled out about it. I can't decide whether or not this is a good thing or not!

It's been great getting together and drinking lots of tea with friends here in Groby, and also spending time with our cat Winston- who's like a big, hungry, cuddly teddy bear. I've been out and about in leicester by night too, with good friends, and to Bradgate park this week- clambering up the rocks and splashing around with bare feet in the stream, one of my favourite things to do in the sunshine.

As ever, I've been busy and not busy all at once. The spring term at UEA, though even better than the first has been at times exhausting, so I can't say I wasn't pleased to see Friday week twelve arrive. (In a whirlwind of free hot cross buns, a lunchbar entitled 'Chicks, Chocolate and Crucifixion', the necessary paperwork accompanying an exam,portfolio deadline and a lovely essay).

Looking forward to spending the first week of the Easter holidays at the seaside volunteering with the under 5's group at Spring Harvest, I headed alongside Katie and Lorna, back to Groby for the evening where there was just enough time to catch up with church folk and squeeze in a J20 at The Stamford Arms. The next day we rose disgustingly early enough to jump on the 7.30 train to Skegness for a week of thomas (the tank engine), twinkle twinkle and reading stories to small children!

Having no previous experience with snotty toddlers and not being initially keen on the idea of doing so, I at first wondered why on earth I was there! Katie and I applied together at the last minuite, for the places we knew most needed filling to be most sure of getting onto the team at short notice. I'm far happier working with children who actually talk back, and wondered if i'd find talking drivel for 6 hours a day frustrating, as you can't teach two year olds all that much about Jesus- only sing songs containing the classic line 'Mr Cow how do you say to the Lord 'I love you' '.
But it was an all round experience- God taught me how to change nappies, and reminded me what serving through childrens work is all about. Whilst I have to admit a week in the nursery at butlins singing 'Well I stand around in the field all day, gives me plenty of time to say: Mooooooo!' wasn't my idea of a party, I was reminded that God's purposes are so much bigger than mine- and that the point of service is that we don't do what we want, but what he wants! By the end of the week, I even managed to find them a bit cute!

Amongst the children, we still squeezed in a couple of seminars, got to hear lots of talks, make loads of notes, etc. I harassed Katie into the night about various theological issues on more than one occassion. It was wicked to meet some new people, including a girl coming to UEA next year, to dip our toes in the sea, to crash out on the beach for an hour or so, to meet up for tea with Deb, and for a cheeky ride on the carousel with Fran and Matt. There was even time for a bit of full on chillaxing at the spa...very much needed after a week of Mr Cow and co.! And of course I bought a pleasantly large stack of books (still mostly unread, as predicted) for a relatively small amount of money from Wesley Owen, the second most important man in my life (sad but true!).

I returned from skegness via train (I'm getting to quite like trains) on maunday thursday- a holy zombie with my head stuck in and out of a book called 'twenty four' by Krish Kandiah- a brilliant read about worship- living completely for God. Amazing holiday at spring harvest once again! Man, it was good to be home though- finally some rest.

Well, briefly. Good Friday in Leicester brings 'Christ in the Centre' an anual passion play right in the city centre. I went along last year for the first time to see some girls from church with starring roles, and was properly looking forward to it again this year-having previously sourced with the help of friends the best crucifixion viewpoint in the city (on top of the haymarket car park) and arranged a lunch date for after the action. Though rainy and cold It's amazing to see a crucified Jesus taking centre stage in our city each Good Friday-with hundreds of people standing by to watch, and hundreds more confused shoppers going in and out of primark no doubt wondering what on earth all the fuss is about. Everyone sang 'When I survey the wondrous cross'.
After two consecutive nights out over the Easter weekend, Easter Morning's early start seemed even earlier, but for the good cause of 7am church which took place at the top of Old John, a ye olde monument at the top of a hill in our local country park. After communion in the cold and a short country drive there was just enough time to have breakfast and a wash before heading up to 'real church' where Pat had asked Bo Deb and I to get full on biblical style robes and be interviewed as a 'woman at the tomb' - as in the women who first found out when Jesus rose from the dead! I have to say, I got pretty into it- Jesus is Alive! How genuinely miraculously fantasticly exciting. It was really great to be home, singing with great gusto a rousing chorus of that old classic 'Christ the Lord is risen today, Haaalleeelluujah!'

After church, we bounced to Luton to see my grandparents and to eat loads of food- minus my brother who spent the Easter weekend shooting zombies at 'I36' a LAN camp- ie. a computer gaming festival. Well, none of us in this family were ever going to be cool! It was a lovely family afternoon, though I accidently conked out a bit on the sofa due to a little fanclub/mosh related sleep deprivation.

I think, *takes a deep breath* that Easter is better than Christmas. Whilst the Christmas holidays are all round better..more atmos, christmas lights but ultimately the lack of exam preparations to be done, without Easter, and the physical death and ressurection of Jesus, what's the point of Christmas? Easter marks the very centre of our faith- the main event.

After an eventful Easter weekend, I headed off with the family for a couple of days away in the Lake District at Windemere- it was a good chill, and we had glorious weather. I especially enjoyed visiting Brantwood, the home by Lake Conniston of John Ruskin, ye olde artist/author/composer/thinker/general genius. Having been there before, it was cool wandering around his grounds and appreciating his many ridiculous works before heading back to Groby.

And here I am, Groby- procrastinating, tea drinking, going to church and drinking tea. What else is new? Always continual lessons in God's undeserved favour in one context or another.

Early last term I was asked to consider taking a role on the Christian Union committee at UEA. Feeling grossly underqualified, I'll be honest and say I wondered whether I might regret saying yes to the challenge in the faith that God would gracefully provide the time,the energy and everything else required. I really feel that God has given me a role far beyond my comfort and own capability- but for good purpose. 'prayer and main meeting co-ordinator' is pretty self explanatory in terms of the role- prayer and organisation- the two things in life that I am worst at? But, I've figured it out...God uses our weaknesses, to show that it isn't us who do anything special- but him who does everything, and his power working through us (see 2 corinthians 4) ..scary, but seriously cool, the logic of love from our incredible God of Grace.

So here I am, still trying to be more and more dependant on him for everything.

I'm still trying hard to 'work for the Lord and not for men'- if Eric Liddell (off of running) said he could 'feel God's pleasure' when he ran- surely it's true that there is nothing in life that can't be done for the glory of God. Including Physiology and Pharmacology! Cells, genetics, life molecules, physical biochemistry, health economics and the like...

It's definately time to seriously get a move on with this work I think, and to conclude here with an amazing passage from the bible which was quoted at last week's third sunday evening service and is found in the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 3vs 16 - 20 (NLT)

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Katie and I, Skegness beach 7/4

A tragicly poor quality photo- but some of my best leicester girlies
at the club of Fun (aka Fanclub) 11/4

My brother, Alex and me at Brantwood 15/4

Myself and the 'rents - Lake Conniston

My beautiful cat Winston has taken to plonking himself down in my 'office' in the sun.

(maybe more photos to come.)

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