Its been a while…

Ok so here it is… me and few others write a weekly blog which you can find here this is linked to a fresh expressions community that i lead along with a few other folks, we are exploring faith and spirituality in pubs! Whats not to like! We meet each week and we discuss the blogs each week. please do follow it if you want to!

But i have been pondering on trying to get back into writing some stuff so i’m going to have a go at trying to at least do one post a month…

The idea behind this is to write something at the end of each month which discusses a few things…

  1. Music i have listened… not all of it will be new music!
  2. Films I have watched, but it won’t be a review as such.
  3. TV I have seen that I thought was worth sharing… I don’t watch much so there may not be many of these.
  4. Something I have read  – I’m a rubbish reader so that may not end well!
  5. Ales or craft beers I have enjoyed
  6. And any other things that I have been up to – places I have visited, etc.

So there you have it… Oh yeh you may see the odd poem going up as well… I’ve been writing but not sharing!

Breaking Bread With Heretics: The Table of God’s Hospitality

A friend introduced me to this blog, i really love it as it speaks into my story!

john pavlovitz

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I live just down the street from a very conservative Southern Baptist seminary.

I often sit at the nearby coffee shop and just observe people, listening as the conversations waft in and out of earshot. (Okay, so technically it’s eavesdropping but I’m currently repenting of it.)

Today as I walked up the sidewalk I could hear a man probably fifteen to twenty years younger than me at an outdoor table, lecturing two other people about God and heresy and “Truth”.

I sat and sort of marveled at him. He was so confident in his youth; so sure of himself, so authoritative, so ready with answers, his theology so fixed and unwavering.

(He reminded me a lot of someone.)

I remember that place well. Sometimes I really miss it.

Life was so much easier then, yet it’s a place I’m glad I no longer live.

I feel more vulnerable here. The lack of certainty is…

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Bible 8Track

Music-CDsOur minister asked us to come up with up to 8 song to unpack a bible passage, so here is my 8 Track song list. I decided to choose one of my favourite passages from Micah. I love the words, phrases and the theme of it. let me know what you think!

Micah 6:6-8
1. Hogni – Bow Down (to no man) – (bow)
2. Talking Heads “Burning Down the House” (burning)
3. The Wonderstuff ”Size of a Cow” (calves)
4. Jerry Reed Crude OIl (oil)
5. John Lennon – “Beautiful Boy” (baby)
6. Bob Marley – Get up, stand up (justice)
7. What The World Needs Now Is Love / Dionne Warwick (Kindness/love)
8. Mary Mary – Walking (walk)

Je suis Charlie

Methodist Church in Altrincham, Bowdon Vale, Timperley & The Vine, Hale

Je suis Charlie

Je suis Charlie” has been through the usual cycle of articles in the media. It started as a powerful, interesting and positive idea. Then we looked at how it can be abused by politicians and activists. Now we are deciding it wasn’t actually a good idea in the first place.

Of course all of these arguments contain an element of truth. “Je suis Charlie” is a badge and badges mean many different things to those who wear them and those who see them. And free speech is difficult – as you might expect.  I believe in free speech. I also believe that gratuitously mocking and insulting people for their beliefs is wrong. So “Je suis Charlie” when it comes to cartoons of the prophet, but not completely.

It seems to me though, eleven days on today from the horror which unfolded on the streets of Paris, that we…

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Dorothy Day

dorothy_dayI came across the following post by Shane Claiborne on facebook and i thought it was worth sharing… check it out…

One of the grandmothers of revolution -Dorothy Day- was born Nov.8, 1897 and died Nov.29, 1980… a true shero of the faith. It’s a good day to remember
Dorothy was born in Brooklyn in 1897. She worked as a journalist for radical newspapers in the 1920s and found most of her friends in the bohemian crowds that gathered in Greenwich Village. While living with a man she loved in 1926, she became pregnant and experienced a mysterious conversion to Jesus. As a Roman Catholic, she struggled to unite her personal faith with passion for social justice until she met Peter Maurin, with whom she founded the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933. Through hospitality houses in the city, agronomic universities on the land, and roundtable discussions for the clarification of thought, they aimed to “create a new society within the shell of the old,” offering American Christianity the witness of a new monasticism that combines piety and practice, charity and justice.

A few nuggets of wisdom from Dorothy…

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

“Those who cannot see Christ in the poor are atheists indeed. ”

“What we would like to do is change the world…by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world.”

“Love casts out fear, but we have to get over the fear in order to get close enough to love them.”

“If I have achieved anything in my life, it is because
I have not been embarrassed to talk about God.”

“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.”

Mission Possible

Ever since I became a Christian mission has played an important part of my Christian experience. Starting off in the early days of helping with Harrogate and district youth for Christ and then a mate and I set up a mission group that would work with local youth groups to inspire and challenge. I then studied at Cliff College, which has evangelism/mission at its heart. In my second year I wrote a dissertation on ‘motivating the Methodist church into evangelism’ I really enjoyed the process of reading, writing, and i got a decent mark to boot! 
Eventually I joined the Rob Frost Seed Team program and had a year in Estonia teaching English and engaging young and old with the message of Jesus. I had a short spell in Bristol to help out with a team that was struggling. After this I moved to the North East where I have spent the last 16 years or so working for the church, as pastor, preacher, youth worker and recently as evangelism enabler and now as fresh expressions worker.
In all this time mission has remained important to me, but… and I mean but… in the last 10 years or so mission… or more specifically evangelism has been a tougher topic to work through. The traditional ways to engage people with the Christian message have become difficult to work with, and I have to say that I have struggled to know what to do with evangelism.
Its true to say that in recent years, some churches have moved away from traditional forms of mission/evangelism but have struggled to know what to put in its place. For many churches Alpha remains the way we engage, I like Alpha a lot and have led many courses over the years, but even Alpha for me has its problems (as do many other courses) as it feels like a process we take folk through, and i’m not sure that is the way we should operate.
Some of the things i loved about evangelism and mission back in the day was the opportunity to lead mission teams to places around the country, these opportunities have more or less stopped. But within the context of taking a mission team somewhere I think we have missed out on the opportunities it gives.
So over this last year or so the Newcastle Methodist District and its evangelism enabler have been working with a great team of people to launch something called ‘Together Mission’ which has just finished… and it’s been an amazing week! Elaine Lindridge has blogged about what we got up to and you can see that here. The interesting thing about this is that it seems we are trying to learn how to do mission again… not in an old way… but in a new way.
This was emphasised when I was in a devotional meeting visiting one of the teams and a good mate read the story in Acts 2, and this has been buzzing around in my mind ever since :-
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
The part that struck me was verse 8. As I reflected on that verse I was struck that many of the teams were learning to speak a different missional language, i.e. the teams were in dialogue with people talking and sharing the gospel story… there was a sense of trying to listen and understand where folks were coming from whilst sharing elements of the Christian gospel.
It seems to me that we need to invest in several approaches in evangelism which I think we began to engage with this week through the ‘Together Mission’.
1.    To listen to the story of the people
2.    To speak the many languages of the people
3.    To trust the Christian message
4.    It’s ok ‘just’ to have fun
5.    To be brave and take risks
6.    To break out of churches and move into third spaces
This may not be rocket science, but to many traditional churches it could be a break through… lets pray it is.