Friday, April 27, 2007

Silent Movies return...

REJESUS has a review of a new film on their blog all about the Carthusian order. A film maker was allowed accss the the founding institution the Grand Chartreuse. So the myth that I perpetuated as an undergraduate that the personal cells of these brothers could be filled with large screen tvs and no-one would ever know might be blown out of the water now!

Anyway - I'm ordering the DVD so maybe it couls make for an interesting film night with young people!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cross-Section in the News

Ok so the Door has published our little article about Cross-Section in the Youth View section, viewable here. So exciting and the next one is THIS SUNDAY!

Looking at the proverbial!

Our youth house group Proverbs me last night to look at another book of the Bible and this time we'd chosen Proverbs. As this book is so full of imagery, after a brief introduction, we used various multi-sensory stations to explore different passages. Take a look:

Each person should take their Bible with them and read each of the passages given as well as reflect on the items at the station. At the end we chose to reflect together on our experience and share passages that particularly meant something to us.

1) Proverbs 3.18-22 (big box of beads and wire and string)
Think of all the things you know you should do but don’t want to. For each of them or to represent them string some of the beads on the wire or on the string.

2) Proverbs 6.6-9 (picture of or an actual ant farm)
Look at the picture of the ant farm. When do you sit when you should be active?

3) Proverbs 6.16-19 (mirror and pile of plasticine or play-doh)
Look in the mirror and at yourself as you reflect on these passages. Form a heart out of the clay and as you work the clay ask God to take all evil plots from your heart.

4) Proverbs 7. 16-17 (some jars of cinmmon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg or other sweet and strong spices lying on a collection of different luxrious cloths like silk, "fur" and linens draped)
Smell the spices and feel the materials as you read the passage. What is there in your life that makes life more special?

5) Proverbs 8.8-11 (jewellery box full of glittering beads - this can be placed with number 1)
Look at the chest of “riches” what do you prize above God?

6) Proverbs 8.22-31 (This can either be placed near a window with a view or you could gather a load of images of creation)
Picture all these types of creation that Go d gives us and give thanks for them

7) Proverbs 11.30 (a plant next to a pile of seeds)
Look at the seeds and the plant. Read the passge. What do you want God to grow in you?

8) Proverbs 15.17 (a bowl full of vegetables)
Look at the bowl full of what is good for you but not necessarily appealing. Treasure those who are closest to you and pray for them.

9) Proverbs 16.24 & 24.13-14 (a jar of honey and some spoons)
Taste the honey as you read these words and commit to using more kind words. Read Proverbs 25.16 before you move on!

10) Proverbs 17.1 (a crust of bread on a plate)
Taste a piece of the bread and think of places of conflict in the world.

11) Proverbs 23.19 (a glass of wine - for us it was not for drinking but of course - you decide!)
Look at the wine and smell it. Think of the effects of wine? Wine in moderation is fine but over-indulging can cause problems. What effects does drinking and bad company bring?

12) Proverbs 25.11 (a silver bowl of apples)
Taste the apples and think of the advice you could give someone or some advice which you need for yourself.

13) Proverbs 25.20 (a bottle of vinegar, some poured into a small bowl)
Taste a little bit of the vinegar (or salt depending on your Bible translation) and reflect on the wounds in people you have made worse.

14) Proverbs 27.19 (a bowl of water or a mirror - as long as the can see their reflection)
Look in the bowl of water (mirror) and see your reflection. How is your heart reflected in your actions?

15) Proverbs 30.33 (a jar of cream or creamy milk. Make sure it is thoroughly sealed. This really does work!)
Shake the jar and see whether you can turn the milk to butter. Burn up your anger in shaking the jar rather than having a go at people!

16) Proverbs 3.1-4 (a pile of heart-shaped post-it notes)
From all the stations, or from somewhere else in the book, write a verse from proverbs on one of the heart shaped post-its

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

GENIUS at Google!

Picked up from Neil's wiblog this fantastically quirky fact. Google maps give you the directions to SWIM ACROSS THE ATLANTIC if you try to get directions from somewhere in UK to America. Bizarrley it gets you to trael to FRANCE first!. Check it out!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Cool as a Chellington

So I've had some sleep now which is rather good it has to be said! So I can tell you a bit about that wonderful place we stayed nd the great time we had.

The Chellington centre is an extremely well-equipped, well-organised centre, the co-ordination of the site is friendly and really open to youth groups. In terms of equipment the kitchen had SO much and the cleaning materials were impresesive too. It runs on the "leave it ready for the next group" principle which is somehting I thoroughly commend.

The centre is located in an incredibly gorgeous converted 12th century church, the fold-down beds are surprisingly comfortable, if a little odd but hearing that they're used by firemen made me think they probably would be ok! The views are stunning and the availability of your own enclosed churchyard with fire-pit and barbecue is amazing and the addition of the use of a maHUSSive field was fabulous. There was much Kubb y-played!

I couldn't recommend it more strongly.

The weekend away was totally awesome. We played Cranium on Friday night which is a game I really love and is pretty good for a mixed group because it's not all drawing or all questions and you can win by being willing to be silly and do impressions of chickens, Cilla Black, Mr Bean, Eddie Izzard et al or you can be an uber-brain and spell Rhododendron or Catastrophe (backwards)!

On Saturday morning we began doing the papier mache and while the young people sensilbly modelled with balloons for the base of their models, my wo co-leaders explored their inner child with the large bag of balloons!

Then we had great fun with the next team challenge which involved eggs hidden around the centre which contined both a puzzle (a wordsearch, su-doku, code to crack etc. which gave you a clue to the next location) and a chinese character. Once they had collected all the chinese characters they had to find out what thye all meant be finding various translated characters around the building and then using the first letter of each of their words, they had the key-word. It wasn't quite the Da Vinci code but it was pretty tough apparently!

Unfortunately we totally underestimated how LONG it takes for papier mache to dry so the weekend ended with the models still with only their undercoat so we had blue pigs a blue penguin, blue bear, blue fat man etc!

In the afternoon there was some munching of the tiffin made the night before, some chillin and then their all-time favourite - Ready Steady Cook! This year I made a bit of a twist though. In addition to creating a meal out of the ingredients, they also had to create a vegetable animal sculpture. Results on the Flickr group set.

In the evening we focussed our worship on the cross using a great bit of craft making crosses out of nails - a little tricky but worth it.

Then it was time for a campfire and the film chosen by the winners of Ready Steady Cook! We watched V for Vendetta which did prompt a lot of thought.

Sunday morning we got the young people in pairs to take one of the resurrection appearances of Jesus and prepare a worship station for everyone. It was SO COOL. There was a lovely station on Mary meeting Jesus (underwater scultping, floating flowers and writing a reflection - in the churchyard) then we had some reflective questions on Jesus telling Peter, "Feed my sheep" and what that means in our own Christian journeys and an invitation to enjoy the beautiful scenery as we reflected on the Great Commission. Last and by no means least was the Ascension which featured all the cuddly toys gathered around one of the bears who was attached to a string. It was kooky and cool and amazingly it was REALLY deep at the same time. The station invited people to offer something they wanted to be "taken up to heaven". At the end we all gathered aroudn the fire pit outside and burnt them and then shared the peace.

That wasn't all though. The young people then mucked in brilliantly to help get the place cleaned up. We did so well that the centre coordinator told me "you can DEFINITELY come back! It looks great."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend away-hey

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.
We've had a fabulous but tiring time away at Chellington. It is a fntastic residential centre for a weekend or longer. The atmosphere in this converted church is just wonderful. More anon bout paier mache models, worship and vegetable sculpture but no metion will be forthcoming of free-range eggs so my co-leader James's secret is safe!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New clay on the block

Ok so I admit it... my best source of new stories is CBBC's Newsround. Just seen a great article about a young person aiming high with some Wallace and Grommit style animation. He's said he wants to work for Aardman eventually and knowing Nick Park's reputation for being so cool and lovely and nice and all I'm guessing he'll get in touch!

So look out in the future for a buffalo and a beaver in PLANT: THE MOVIE

By the way, apologies for blog silence ltely and for the next three days - I've been busily preparing for the youth weekend away this weekend. It's gonna be awesome. Goodbye boring old burgers we're making greek style kebabs with tzatziki and humus!

Can't wait for the ready, steady cook challenge with the special addition this year. Should be gr8!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Some of the Easter Gardens

Some of the Easter Gardens
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.
Here are some of the Easter gardens the children made at our Easter workshop this morning. It was a fabulous time. The children also made bread crosses, a banner of the last supper and some decorated biscuits. Then we went down to church for a short service in our own "garden" and shared some of the fresh baked bread the children had made as well as some grapes to represent the wine while we sang "This is my body". It was an increidly moving time. It's a scary truth that I am beginning to like children's work almost as much as I love youthwork!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What does the Crucifixion mean?

Richard's post a few days ago flagged up that there's been some slight seasonal uproar as the result of a broadcast (currently available in text form) that was about to be aired on Radio 4 by the dean of St Albans, Jeffrey John. I managed to catch the tail end of it when I got back from this evening's Eucharist. Unsurprisingly, the words were not heretical and not really THAT contraversial. They were radical as Jesus' Gospel is radical. The dean challenges our perceptions of God as an Angry figure,

the wrath of God is no more than a human projection, and that for God to be God, he can't be less merciful and loving than the best of human beings. As Julian wrote,
wrath and friendship are two contraries… For I saw that there is no manner of wrath in God, neither for short time nor for long;-for in sooth, if God be wroth for an instant, we should never have life nor place nor being.
I think the dean has said some very insightful things and referred to some interesting texts .

"On the cross God absorbs into himself our falleness and its consequences and offers us a new relationship. God shows he knows what it's like to be the loser; God hurts and weeps and bleeds and dies. It's a mystery we can hardly glimpse, let alone grasp; and if there is an answer to the problem of suffering, perhaps it's one for the heart, not the reason. Because the answer God's given is simply himself; to show that, so far from inflicting suffering as a punishment, he bears our griefs and shares our sorrow. From Good Friday on, God is no longer "God up there", inscrutably allotting rewards and retributions. On the Cross, even more than in the crib, he is Immanuel, God down here, God with us."

Go and have a look for yourself.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Judas revisited

Our vicar spoke this evening about the passage in John where Peter asks Jesus about the one who is to betray him. Unlike the other thre Gospels, John does not describe the sharing of the bread and wine. David elucidated something I'd not really thought of before. Instead of the sharing of the bread and and wine as a communal experience we hear of a kind of anti-communion; Jesus dips the bread in the wine and hands it to Judas and AT THAT MOMENT satan enters him and his betrayal of Jesus is set in motion.
"Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, 'Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.' The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples - the one whom Jesus loved - was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, 'Lord, who is it?' Jesus answered, 'It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.' So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, 'Do quickly what you are going to do.' Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, 'Buy what we need for the festival'; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out."
John 13.21-26
Now I spoke on Judas a few years ago and had been thinking about putting it up on here which I will do in another post. It's a bit of a brain leap - does Jesus CHOOSE Judas here? Was there moment when Jesus could have handed that piece of bread to Peter? To John? To Thomas? To any of the others? Or was this merely a SACRAMENT? (defined as: an outwards sign of an inner reality) Judas was already on the oath towards his future actions and Jesus merely signposted it.

How much of a difference do those two possibilities make to us?

Update: thoughts from the Taizé Community on just this subject.

My earlier Judas thoughts

"And he, Judas, was there -
there for the miracles,
there for the teaching,
there for the prayer times,
there for the confrontations with the politicians and leaders,
there - and sent out - along with the others to teach and heal."

"It is easy to overlook the fact that Jesus chose Judas to be his disciple. We may also forget that while Judas betrayed Jesus, all the disciples abandoned him. With the other disciples, Judas shared a persistent misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission. They all expected Jesus to make the right political moves. When he kept talking about dying, they all felt varying degrees of anger, fear, and disappointment. They didn’t understand why they had been chosen if Jesus’ mission was doomed to fail.”

We hear many negative things about Judas: It is he who says Mary "wasted" the expensive Nard she used to annoint Jesus' feet, (Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him),said, 'Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?' (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, 'Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.' John 12 1-8). We also hear not one but two descriptions of the unpleasant death of Judas Iscariot. This in a time when the mode of one's death was often seen to reflect on one's virtue. (Matthew 27.1ff & Acts 1:18-19)

Painting the last supper Da vinci first searched for the perfect Jesus and having met hundreds of men he chose a19 year old man and spent months painting him as Christ. Having painted Jesus he turned to finding the other disciples. He spent six years until only one face as left that of Judas. He spent all his time searching. He heard of a man in prison and going to see him he saw that this man was indeed the wretched unkempt and vicious man he needed. With special permission the man was released into Da Vinci’s care. When he’d finished and was returning the man to his prison, the prisoner turned tDa Vinci and said "I am your Christ!! I am the man you painted seven years ago as Christ! O, God, have I fallen so low?"

Judas - forgiven?

There is an ancient story that when Judas committed suicide he could find nowhere to rest and wandered for a thousand years through the dark. Until one time he saw a light in the distance, and struggled towards it. As Judas drew near, he saw that the light was streaming from the open windows of a hall. He looked in through the window, and saw a great feast prepared, with many people seated at a table in the banqueting hall and Jesus at the head of the table caught sight of Judas looking in. “Dear Judas” he said, “we have waited so long for you to come. Please join us. See, here is your seat. Now that you have arrived, the celebration can begin.”

Did Judas sit down to eat?

This story as the other things we hear about Judas does not present me with answers but with many questions:

Who did Judas ’wrong’? Who has the power to forgive a wrong?

Do you identify with Judas at all?

We use the term “unforgivable” at times – do we mean that?

What sins does contemporary society view as unforgivable?

What would it be like to substitute the name of someone who’s done that?

Condemn the sin but love the sinner?

(At daybreak Jesus appeared in the temple, and all the people gathered round him. He had taken his seat and was engaged in teaching them when the doctors of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught committing adultery. Making her stand out in the middle they said to him, "Master, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. In the Law Moses has laid down that such women are to be stoned. What do you say about it?" They put the question as a test, hoping to frame a charge against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they continued to press their question he sat up straight and said, "That one of you who is faultless shall throw the first stone." Then once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard what he said, one by one they went away, the eldest first; and Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing there. Jesus again sat up and said to the woman, "Where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She answered, "No one, sir." Jesus said, "Nor do I condemn you. You may go; do not sin again."John 8.2-11)

The church exists for those people that no-one else wants to know. Well, we should. It's what Jesus told us we should do. (Jesus sat at table with the tax collectors and sinners; and he said, It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call virtuous people, but sinners. Matthew 9.10,12,13 )

I don't have the answers to all my questions but I had a feeling about it inside which says that this poem sums up the way God would view Judas:

'Twas the Bridegroom stood at the open door,
And beckon'd, smiling sweet;
'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Stole in, and fell at his feet.
'The Holy Supper is spread within,
And the many candles shine,
And I have waited long for thee
Before I poured the wine!'
The supper wine is poured at last,
The lights burn bright and fair,
Iscariot washes the Bridegroom's feet,
And dries them with his hair.
Robert Buchanan