Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Building 'Church' memories for my children.

I was born and brought up in a Christian home and for that I am thankful. Those who know me in RL know that I don't have many memories (think Dorie the Fish on 'Finding Nemo' and you can't go far wrong!!!) but I do have a few.

Some of the strongest memories I have are of the church I was brought up in and I was reminded of them today whilst listening to a Wes King album.
  • I remember the parties at Christmas when we all piled into the 'Sports Hall' of the church and everyone joined in the games, mostly revolving around food and chocolate.
  • The summer outings when they were whole day affairs consisting of a trip in the morning and races and food in the afternoon. Large trestle tables heaving under the weight of all the vituals so lovingly prepared. I never won any of the races but I packed a decent amount of that food away.
  • The wonderful choruses we used to sing. Led by our lovely Sunday School leader.
  • My Sunday School teachers who taught me so much of the bible. A confirmation of what my parents thought me at home.
  • Learning bible verses so I could get my Covenantors badge and the coloured pieces of felt that went with it!
  • Having a service long 'foot-fight' with my brother and then being really told off by mum.
  • The old godly Christians who took time with us young children and befriended us and prayed for us as well.
  • Mum and dad's friend who would come around often for meals and the presents he would give us at Christmas.
And the list goes on. I really want my children to have similar memories of church. They love it at the moment but I want them to cherish what they do at our Fellowship. It is part of my job to build them for mine and the other children we are blessed with here.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Test everyone

Someone asked me the other day why our church doesn't support the arts because we don't have dramas and short-act plays in the services. I realised the question, as with almost every question, goes back to creation. I don't believe something has to be in a church service to be 'for God'. ... A church is a community of people who are learning how to be certain kinds of people wherever thy find themselves, so they can do whatever it is they do 'in the name of the Lord Jesus.' The goal isn't to bring everyone's work into the church; the goal if for the church to be these unique kinds of people who are transforming the places they live and work and play because they understand the whole earth is filled with the kavod (glory) of God. God isn't in one building only. Doing things for God happens all the time, everywhere. ...

So the labels ultimately fail, no matter how useful they are from time to time, because the life of Jesus is just that, a life that is lived by people who have oriented their entire lives around being true to Jesus' teachings.

One of the first things God does in creating the world is separate dark and light. The ancient rabbis say the first thing God does is distinguish between dark and light, and the rest of the Scriptures is God teaching people how to distinguish between dark and light. Huge sections of the book of Leviticus are devoted to God teaching people how to discern between life and death, light and dark, clean and unclean. The Ten Commandments are God teaching people how to discern, and how to live well in relationship between right and wrong with their creator. The Bible is filled with stories of God teaching people how to think. How to discern. How to sort and sift and figure out what is true and what isn't. What is good and what isn't. What brings life and what brings death.

Being a Christian is about engaging the mind and heart more and more, not shutting them off or letting someone else think for you. The writer Peter urges Christians to be alert. Paul tells his listeners in Thessalonica to test everything and hold on to the good.

The danger of labeling things 'Christian' is that is can lead to blindly consuming things we have been told are safe and acceptable. When we turn off the discernment radar, dangerous things can happen. We have to test everything. I thank God for the many Christians who create and write and film and sing. Anybody anywhere who is doing all they can to point people to the deeper realities of God is doing a beautiful thing. But those writers and artist and thinkers and singers would all tell you to think long and hard about what they are saying and doing and creating. Test it. Probe it.

Do that to this book. Don't swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it. Just because I'm a Christian and I'm trying to articulate a Christian worldview doesn't mean I've got it nailed. I'm contributing to the discussion. God has spoken, and the rest is commentary, right?
Velvet Elvis. Repainting the Christian Faith. by Rob Bell

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Community and the will of God.

We shouldn't seek the ideal community. It is a question of loving those whom God has set beside us today. They are signs of God. We might have chosen different people, perhaps people who were more caring , cheerful, intelligent and like-minded. But these are the ones God has given us, the ones he has chosen for us. It is with them that we are called to create unity and live in covenant. Jean Vanier

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” A Doctor called Luke - the Bible.

The above quote by Jean Varnier may be familiar to some of you who are on the same board as I am for this I make no apology as it triggered some of the following thoughts.

At our church this week we are holding our annual Holiday Club. Every year for the past 30 plus years this event has taken place. We have an assortment of different children from different backgrounds; some delightful, polite, well spoken and some more rough around the edges. I have been so challenged about how I deal with the latter group of children. Didn't Jesus come to save them as well? I need to draw alongside them; they need to know that the business of being a Christian isn't about being aloof and prickly but about being a friend. I believe with all my heart in the verbal proclamation of the gospel but that must go hand-in-hand with a life lived out as a light for Jesus. That is the will of God for me and the rest of us who love Him; in fact, it is a command.

May God give me the strength to serve Him in the community I live in, work in and worship in and not wait until the clientèle meet my requirements better. Let's face it we live in a fallen world and that is never going to happen and even if it does something will happen to mess it up (and more often than not it will have something to do with me!). I have to get used to where I am because some of these people will be in Heaven with me and I will be praising the Lord for eternity with them!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

The wonder of Parenting.

Parenting is a tremendous experience and responsibility. I have been blessed with my children and I love them to pieces. Sometimes, when talking to other parents I feel as if I am an alien from another planet. Some parents will describe their experience of parenting and it is not one I can relate to at all; they appear never to say a positive word about their offspring. My road to being a parent was long and painful so I had many a long hour to reflect. My children have been incredibly frustrating at times but often I have to remind myself of the long years when the sound of their voices (either happy, yelling or whatever!) weren't there. That is a good wake-up call.

Kristy in 'She's having a baby' whispers to Jake 'We're blessed' at some stage of the film (can't remember where as it is many years ago I watched it and the walkng-encyclopaedia that is my husband is not around to ask ) and that is how I feel. The song 'Apron Strings' from that film would reduce me to tears of sadness and pain but now it brings tears of joy (and the occasional 'tear you hair out moment!') My husband and I are indeed blessed. God has entrusted me with our children and I must parent them with the love He shows us. Parenting is a hands-on job and I must be prepared to 'get my hands dirty'. May I take my responsibilities seriously and prayerfully and train them in the way they should go.

Thank God, for blessing me as a mummy.