Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Saturday

I always find this rather a strange day. An in between, "not quite sure how I'm supposed to be" sort of a day. The disciples would have spent today in despair and misery, in fear and trepidation, in doubt and disillusionment. The trouble is, we can't recreate that very easily. WE KNOW that Easter Sunday is coming. Perhaps though the not fasting not feasting of the day reproduces that a little.

Good Friday

I had a marvellously mixed "day in the life of ayouth worker" yesterday. It began in some ways with the hour of vigil from 2am-3am as par of our church's all night vigil for Maundy Thursday. I am so at home in our church that, even with the outside carousing and strange rumblings of our heating and the relatively new roof.

Then the strange paired down morning prayer of Good Friday without the familiar doxologies (that's Glory be to the Father..., if you didn't know).

Then I was at the Good Friday children's workshop suporting our new Children's worker. I was leading a "sounds of the Easter Story" from the BRF with donkey hooves on the coconut shells, a bag of coins, hammer and nails (thoroughly risk-assessed and supervised!) and a marvellous thunder tube. I then also had the responsibility of giving the slightly older children (8-10s) the chance to let of steam which I did with the judicious introduction of a football (youth work is so complicated, sometimes, isn't it!?)

After a swift tidy up of my noise makes (that's the equipment for the story not the children!!) I set off for church.

I was contributing a twenty minute slot to the three hours. Each of us was given "The cross and me" so I decided to share the following:

It was some time in 2005 that an image came to me which I just had to get on paper. I started drawing it and like many adults or even over 7s who are drawing, I was dissatisfied with it as it didn’t look like I wanted it to look. The pencil didn’t do what it needed to. So I tried again and again. Finally, prayerfully, the image was there. In simple black and white: A silhouette of the head of the Christ on the cross, crowned with thorns. Yet there was another crown too, a crown of light bursting forth from the head of Jesus and breaking through the darkness.

Of course, drawing in pencil, the light was created by filling in the dark and leaving the light. It rather touched me that; the light was already there – I filled in the darkness and through the darkness the light showed more clearly. The light was already there. It is we who bring the darkness.

Uniquely the cross is the place where the light meets the darkness and where it overcomes it.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. ... The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God."
John 1.1-5 & 9-12

This passage from John sets out John's whole take on the Good News. The light into darkness. The world in which Jesus was crucified was in darkness. They saw the cross as darkness - misery, torture and death. They did not understand. On Good Friday we try to focus on the cross in this way. Yet I find it very dificult. I cannot see the cross of shame without seeing the cross of glory. "The light shines in the darkness and teh darkness cannot overcome it"

So this black and white sketch developed into the picture here.

cross of glory
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush

Note that the darkness is not all bleak and blackness. No there are colours there. Just as sin is not all repulsive and evil - if only it were, we would never sin at all. No in fact sin can be enjoyable and seemingly fulfilling. Yet the light is not all pure stark whiteness either, far from it. The cross here is like a prism which shows the light as it truly is, a rainbow of colours.

Now the interesting thing about painting a picture is that others see in it things I don't. It's one of the hidden joys of art. I'd like you to have a look at the picture now and think what you see when you look at the cross. (we then listened to Godfrey Birtill's fabulous "When I look at the Blood")

What I see when I look at the cross:
not hate but love
not despair but hope
not death but salvation

The light in the darkness is not only restricted to Jesus on the cross. It is up to us too and we doing that by witnessing through our lives.

As St Paul writes
"Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world." (Philippians 2.14-15)

"Love one another. By this shall all knwo that you are my disciples if you love one another"

How is your light going to shine?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Double Take TV

Ok so I am one of those sad people who, when watching a programme, spends a lot of time trying ot remember what other things the actors have been in. Last week's Lewis had me absolutely brain-tangled as _I KNEW_ the man who chatted jovially to Inspector Lewis about his new allotment had been on Inspector Morse. Was he supposed to be the same person??? I just couldn't find him. Turns out it was David Ryall who was not only in Morse before but was in fact the murderous driving instructor who tried to kill Morse!! Surely Lewis must have spotted this heinous criminal???!!!

Yes, I am that sad!

The Passion

So the BBC has been running this series called the Passion and we've now watched the first two episodes. It's a good programme for sure and I imagine it will open people's eyes to the realy story of Easter rather than bunnies and chocolate eggs for a while. If you have anyone asking about it, REJESUS has some pages dedicated to the programme.

I'm not sure the characterisation of Jesus with words NOT from the Bible when the Gospels record a lot of words of Jesus. There have been definite points where I've thought of passages that could have been used but weren't. I know it may be better than a literal re-work yet I think a balance between modern style drama and the original text is important.

The fear of Caiaphas and Pilate in seeking to maintain their power is well portrayed and the idea of Judas as an "inside man" for the temple guards is an interesting one - though I'm not sure how much it could be supported by the texts. I also liked the way there was a clear distinction between Mary Magdalene (as a close follower of Jesus) and a prostitute who decides to follow him. What wasn't so clear was which disciple was which.

I think it's still worth catching up with it on iplayer and watching the other installments on Friday and Sunday.

Jesus and a donkey

We had our usual Palm Sunday dramatised Gospel yesterday. Well actually not our usual one as David K had put a lot of work into making it different. James, one of our youth leaders took on the role of Jesus in white overalls which worked rather well.

Then in the afternoon, I was transported back to my childhood days as Michael and I went along for the Donkey Walk at St Peter's in Micklefield. We used to have a donkey at All Saints but it was "long ago, so very long ago"! There are more pics on the Flickr site including a few when the donkey refused to move and Michael had to help persuade him down the hill and away from the clover!! There was nearly one of the donkey doing one the more smelly things which donkeys do but I resisted!

Prayer of St Francis

Mark has already posted on the Prayer of St Francis and, having searched iTunes etc, I've not been able to find the song on its own but I have found it in the context where I first heard it, in the world of Buffy. So, if Buffy the Vampire isn't your thing, press play then open another window and just listen. Sarah Mclachlan really does a beautiful job!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cunning as a Fox

So I'm in a Blackadder mood now today, having read Ian's post about the budget with reference to the BEST joke from Blackadder Goes Forth. Then tomorrow night I'm off to see "The Scottish Play" that two of my young people are in so I thought this seemed the most appropriate. Genius

Money Money not Moany moany

Church treasurers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief... the government has realised the impact of the tax cut on gift aid so they've decided to cut the tax BUT allow gift aid to be claimed at the old rate. Hurrah!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

generator game

Ok so... I found a link to a whole BUNCH of generators and I am trying to resist them all. However... R2D2 was just too much!!

update - not that I canmanage to upload hte file properly... grrr

Press 1 for copy

Just found a handy little online gizmo for creating newspaper headlines. Hope it might be useful for others too! It also has talking squirrels, clapper boards and my personal favourite - ninja text!


six little words

Michael has tagged me to do "My life in six words" (as featured in the news a few weeks ago)... SIX???? just SIX?! Ok so I'm thinking it over today. I can do some silly "life" in six words but MY life - well that's rather tougher so, to keep you occupied while I think about mine, here's my sad Latinist response:

Pluperfect, perfect, imperfect, present, future (-perfect).

ok so I needed 7 really!

Growing Pains

So young people are the government's easy targets again today. Last week we heard that young people aged 16 would be "offered" the first wave of non-compulsary identity cards which they could opt to take - especially if they want a student loan or other key services like a bank account.

Today we heard the suggestion that 16 year olds will be taking part in citizenship ceremonies and swearing allegiance to Queen and country. Now I'm not unpatriotic or a republican (I think the queen is a great lady and the words President Thatcher still haunt me!) but I know there are people who are and there are young people who are, too. I also know peer pressure is still a big issue for some aged 16 and taking a stand could be difficult for many. I've been to a citizenship ceremony with my American (now Anglo-American) friend and the patriotism is fairly red white and blue. I suppose it wouldn't be anything too shocking to the baby boomers or anyone who did national service but I think it's fair more flag waving than most 16 year olds are use to - except in their viewing of American teen dramas!

It's not the nationalism that's really the issue for me but the way these things have been focussed on 16 year olds.

Does anyone else feel concerned that the country is targetting these big changes at a group that are not yet given full rights as adults?

A group who are not able to vote against such things? The NUS has stood out against it - will other adults join them?

I work with a lot of 16 and 17 year olds and the issue of not yet being full adults is always a tricky one. Often young people are respoponsible enough to take on adult roles but have not yet been on the planet long enough. Others do exhibit an eagerness to take on responsibilities though not always the maturity to handle the full implications. There's a fine balancing act between enabling, supporting and standing back with 16/17 year olds. They're not yet adults and they're not yet legally responsible but they want resonsibility some of the time and we need to give them the chance to try it on and the opportunity to break out and be teenagers when they don't. To put these new initiatives on their shoulders as a trial run for adults simply isn't fair.

Monday, March 10, 2008

As the rain and the snow fall down from the earth

This is one of my favourite passages from the Bible. I think it's probably because it is so full of imagery and because it features in the service of morning prayer sometimes so it's one I've said and heard a lot.

"As the rain and snow come down from above and return not again, but water the earth, bringing forth seed for sowing and bread to eat, so is my word that goes forth from my mouth. It will not return to me fruitless, but will accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the task I gave it." Isaiah 55.10-11

I cited that verse with Proverbs when we were studying Isaiah last week and the real tangibility of the passage seemed to connect with the young people too.

For me, the passage occurs to me again today as I've been asked to contribute to the Good friday service in the form of a few words on the subject of "The Cross and Me". This may nto seem much but, since I preached a few weeks ago, I've not had a preach to prepare and that has really made me feel a bit out of sorts. I suppose I could be preparing sermons on any number of texts of my own bat but being called upon (and indeed called) to preach on something somehow makes a difference to me. As I've said before, preaching is nver just about the passage but about the people with whom you are sharing that exploration of the Bible.

I'm not sure what I'm going to say about the Cross and me. There are a few ideas whirling in my head:

-the cross my parents gave me when I was confirmed and which I've worn ever since with very few exceptions...

the experiential worship service we did on the cross using the story of St Helena four years ago (blimey that's ages!)...

the service of the cross at Taize...

the cross on Iona...

the celtic crosses Michael has shown me how to draw...

hmm... what would you say?

Past Present Future

All sorts of shenannigans about moving house today and Taize had such an apposite thought for the day:

God of all mercy, you bury our past in the heart of Christ and you are going to take care of our future.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Much Happening

There's a lot going on in the youthwork world at the moment which may mean a lot of sitting down and reading!

First of all we have the new Independent Safeguarding Authority which is going to do what we all thought CRB was going to do and give transferable clearances for people involved in work with children, young people and vulnerable adults. Hopefully this will make life a lot simpler and safer eventually but it may mean more work in the short time.

We also have the new National Occupational Standars for Youth Work (pdf here) 183 pages to look through!

If that's enough reading for you... then there's also a new site offering access to film clips for use in worship, sermons etc. called Wilngclips. You need to subscribe but you can choose free subscription for lower resolution clips.

God for it

There was an excellent edition of Go For It on Radio Four this evening featuring Michael Rosen in conversation with some bereaved children. Rosen's son Eddy died several years ago now and he has written a book called the Sad Book. This is a book he wrote in a sudden tidal wave after a long dry period following his son's death. I'll certainly be looking it out!

What really impressed me was the way the programme enabled young people to talk about bereavement and death with adults and with other children. Michael Rosen writes some great poetry and he reads it to make it even better. Go and have a look!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ad music killed the video star?

Simon has put up a really simple yet effective video of John 3.16 which reminded me that Michael and I had been youtube surfing the other day.

Some advert on TV (actually can't remember which) has been using the music from one of my childhood favourites - SACRILEGE! Anyway, hearing the music has made me pine for it a little so we went and had a little look.

The Flumps was GENIUS - pure gold. I am a little worried that I still think I'm Pootle! Looking back at the episodes I still think so and therefore they've been added to the amazon wish list! I thought the ad using the music was sacrilege but somehow the Silence of the Flumps is, instead, rather cool!

Michael advocated the Clangers as somewhat superior which led me to counter with "well if you like THAT, what about Noggin the Nog?" Noggin the Nog was, I think, my mum's favourite and therefore my favourite for a long while. It's certainly worth a second viewing as an adult as it's got a lot more to it than some might think. What with that and the anti-materialistic message of the Clangers, I'm beginning to think that children's programming was far more contraversial in those days. Lovely as In the Night Garden is, it's not really EDGY, is it?!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cloud of knowing

Quite a while ago now, Chris posted a link to Craig's page where he'd used tag clouds (as seen on various blogs) to examine the Bible. He's got each of the four gospels, the ten commandments etc etc. He's used a thing called tag crowd.

I thought I'd have a little go at it and I've done Philippians and a bit of Isaiah I'm looking at with our young people. It may seem a slightly odd thing to do and some might think it rather to "critical" or scientific or bookish but I think it's a good way to get past our own prejudices in reading a text. These are the words which feature most often. We might feel or think that another message is there but this is what the text is saying.


created at

I think what interested me most was that Paul's own name come sup a lot. It is a pretty personal book. What about the second part of Isaiah which our group Proverbs is looking at tomorrow...

This is Isaiah 45-66

created at

Common Sense in interfaith work

I was privileged to be at a fabulous day on Saturday. The National Youth Association and the Church of England had organised a series of sessions entitled "A Sense of Respect - Developing Youthwork across the faiths". It brought together people from across many different faiths including Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and even Zoroastrian! Most importantly though, for me,these people were all open to meeting with those of other faiths and considering ways that we can work together with each other in our work with young people. It wasn't all big important types either which was good - there were volunteers, part timers and full time practitioners and also a delegation from an interfaith teen football team.

I've come away with a useful resource, some good contacts and a sense of valuing this as an aspect of future work. Interfaith can sometimes be the thing we think about once we've got everything else sorted but I think people of faith do need to meet together, especially in a country which is increasingly secularised or dismissive of faith and spirituality.

The day also gave me a chance to meet Dean from the Southwark diocese (Hi Dean, if you're reading!) and Maxine Green from the NYA as well as some good local contacts for my new post.

As one of the university chaplains there said at the end of the session. "It was definitely worth getting out of bed for!" As someone who often has a Saurday lie in, I concur wholeheartedly!