Monday, 27 June 2011

Street Spirit

I spent a glorious yet slightly overcast and somehow exhausting day yesterday helping complete 30 second questionnaires on the subject of Church with happy smiling locals as part of Groby Village’s Street Fair! An absolute gift and the perfect opportunity to positively exploit community spirit to get people talking about Jesus and yet I still feel we’re reluctant to really use it as much as we might.

Generally in life I’m treading along the thin line which separates genuine zeal and disheartened apathy, wondering if this is just how life is in the (almost) grown up world. My enthusiasm simmering just below the surface is controversially not content with selling bookmarks with the Lord’s prayer printed on them when the vast majority of potential buyers have no idea how it is that we as Christians can come before our holy God and call him ‘Father’. How come we can give out lollies and paint kid’s faces with relative ease but we don’t think it’s appropriate to bust out the free copies of Mark’s gospel that have been sitting in the church loft for the last ten years?

On the other hand, part of me just can’t be bothered to reject good old fashioned inertia and this comfortable, well tried, tested and always waterproof holy huddle. In the holy huddle there are rarely awkward conversations about whether ‘good people’ really go to hell or moments where we feel so out of our depth that we’re forced to recognize the absolute sovereignty of God. Sometimes I think that maybe I just haven’t grown up enough and I’m just yet to realise that I should give up, but I know this easy life isn’t the life we’re called to as Christians. How can we be encouraged to more actively be involved in sharing the gospel (through what we say and do) and seeing God’s kingdom truly expand?

After a long day and a few dances to finish it off (second ceilidh for me in a week!), I simply had to come home for a supposed early night. Reflecting on the day's conversations, my surprisingly sunburned face dirty from smudged black face paint reached the following broad and rather generalised conclusions;

1. People in this village are all over community spirit, not scared of Christians and more willing to talk about Jesus than you might expect

2. People in this village know about church activities but have no idea what it means to be a Christian.

3. If people in this village could ask God one question, the most frequently asked is simply ‘Why?’ reference to the presence of suffering and evil in the world, wars, famines and bad things happening to good people. This closely seconded by ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ outweighed any other question asked.

4. People in this village would welcome the opportunity to find out more about the Christian faith if church did more events of this nature in future.

Although my sample size is relatively small, data qualitative and certainly not statistically tested, these conversations certainly count for something. In light of our universal call to preach Jesus Christ as Lord, what will we do with these rough and ready nuggets of info from a community so needing to know the living God?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Summer lovin' and Birthday barn dancing

I’ve just been kicking back with the fam watching a trashy crime drama. This is fairly standard practice of late, though I’m much more interested (for some reason) in documentaries about prisons. It’s been three weeks since I finished my third year exams I’ve been loving guilt free tea parties, breakfast dates, three BBQs per weekend, feeding the ducks, hanging out in cafes, regular cocktails with special friends and birthday gatherings galore. Here's some photographic evidence..

This week has been particularly exciting since on Tuesday I turned 21. As if an all day girly tea party in the garden complete with strawberries, champagne and homemade chocolate brownies, dinner out with the immediate family, and a little night out including a slight excess of cream based beverages wasn’t enough, this weekend has been an outrageous festival of fun. Grandparents + some Norfolk road trippers + a church crowd + neighbours + family friends + old school bezzies + excellent musicians = absolutely loads of tea drinking, cake and most of all a cracking barn dance! There isn’t too much more to say on the subject except that I’ve had just about the best time it’s possible to have in the space of two days. It was great to see such a good crowd having such a good time and generally getting involved! Apparently the village is having a street fair and ceilidh next week?..just saying. Despite the recurring feeling of simultaneously running an old people’s home/drop in centre and cafe/catering company, the rising of my domestic goddess status meant stress levels were low and the Flaxfield close festival of fun ran smooth as could be. I was totally spoiled by everyone and really have milked my 21st Birthday for all it’s worth, this morning herding the house guests off to church where yet more tea and cake were on the agenda after the service! Having waved everyone off, despite a busy family afternoon and church this evening, I’ve actually had that almost forgotten friend-withdrawal-coming-down feeling, which was once a regular occurrence following exciting occasions like church camps and school trips. If you’ve experienced this you’ll know exactly what I mean. There’s also a strange feeling of knowing after three years at uni, although I’ve another before graduation, to some extent things won’t quite ever be the same with good friends graduating and getting on with their lives. Woe to pointless nostalgia though, because life has thus far proved that real friendships can definitely survive long distances and time constraints. Day trips and weekends away are super underrated in my life so more of these must happen, and at the very worst I’ll see friends like Andy Simpson in glory.

It’s been great catching up with the girls from home home and the crowd from Groby URC. Tea and/or wine and cocktails sloshing everywhere as per usual. Absolutely love them and gutted we’re not going on holiday together this year but I can already see Ibiza 2013 in my dreams.

Despite all the frivolity that’s already been going on, It’s still relatively early days in terms of 4 month long university holidays. As ever it will be busy (I hope!) with short bursts of doing next to nothing for days on end. I can’t wait for that since it’s a luxury. As usual I’ve made an informal list of potentially fun/useful things I could be doing so that if boredom threatens I can jump into action and paint a picture, learn a few national anthems on the accordion or master the art of simple Japanese phrases to help me along the way in conversation with a new friend. Lately I’ve been baking, and received a stack of useful kitchen equipment for this for my birthday, so the plan is Japanese speaking domestic goddess harp babe by September, providing there’s time to fit in some casual employment, less casual employment, beaching it up, happy camping, holiday clubbing and plenty of the aforementioned day tripping/weekends away! No Boots summer placement for me (to be honest, I’m quite pleased they’ve rejected my application two years running!) but I’ve really got to sort out my pre-registration place over the summer. I also thought I might continue my professional development by watching all seven series’ of House. I’m going to Corfu for two weeks, helping out on a national Urban Saints camp in Dorset at the end of July which should be fantastic and working with some folk from church on a holiday club for primary school kids in August before heading off for what can only be described as some actual employment in London for a bizzle towards the end of the summer.

Exams this time around were understandably a bit of a disaster. Moaning about them is a bit boring though I’m not confident that I’ll have passed them all. There’s a high chance there might be one or two left for me to resit in August but I absolutely can’t call it yet. I’m living in hope of passing but thinking that even if I have, because my whole academic year was unavoidably an absolutely massive cram I’ve probably got to spend a fair bit of time re-learning the stuff that I haven’t actually committed to long term memory yet anyway! Oh, why did I pick a course which requires synoptic learning for life? On the plus side, I might walk out of it with an actual job. An additional plus; despite the stress of it all, my fears and the some initial symptoms I’m yet to develop full blown actual shingles which is definitely good news!

Potentially I’ve got a long ol’ summer ahead and I’m desperate not to waste it. Reject apathy, and say yes to everything (within reason) are the only rules. I’ve got about three weeks of spare time from now until I go on holiday, so I’m looking for things to do, people to meet (old and new) and stuff to get involved in. I have an outrageous amount to learn, probably just enough to do to keep me busy and possibly some academic heartache coming up which could be a struggle. But as a friend reminded me today ‘I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength’ (Phillipians 4.13), I’m a child of God by grace and he is in control. Good news indeed.

I’ve got a cat on me since although the festival of fun has been winding down there’s still a bed deficit in the house leaving me downstairs in the cat’s bedroom on a supposedly ‘superior’ air bed. It’s an upgrade from the floor unless Winston sticks his claws in and deflates this John Lewis bad boy. I’m so allergic to him but thankfully Bodycare’s slightly overpriced OTC Loratadine 10mg OD seems to be doing it’s thing quite nicely.

Grace and peace to all in a bun dance X