Sunday, 27 May 2007

Books, birthday-bash and Wemberlee

The gaps are getting longer... sorry. Told you I wasn't too good at this diary-keeping stuff.

May so far has seen a number of reading days clocked up at NTC (Nazarene Theological College), more golf lessons and office clearing, plus a Nice Surprise, and Alannah's 18th Birthday.

Books read so far fall into two groups:

1. On reflection and silence - ' Into The Silent Land', Martin Laird; 'Poustinia', Catherine de Hueck Doherty.

2. On mission - 'Church in The Back Streets' by Stanley Evans (an urban classic from the early 60's), 'A Charismatic Approach to Social Action' by Larry Christensen (from the 70's - one of only a few I'm aware of on that subject from that spirituality), 'Church Beyond Christendom' by Stuart Murray (follow up to 'Post-Christendom' which I read earlier in the year together with 'Intelligent Church' by Steve (books-kept-under-the-table-at Keswick-Convention-Bookshop) Chalke), plus a number of articles and booklets and podcasts.

Currently I'm reading: 'Journeying Out' by Ann Morisy, 'The Secret Message of Jesus' by Brian McClaren and 'Gospel Without Compromise' by Catherine de Hueck Doherty. Yes, organised and structured as ever, I have 3 on the go at once.

Coming up in June I am going on a 5 day conference on Post Christendom led by said Stuart Murray, then later in the month the "Jesus in the City" Urban Congress in Bristol and a couple of day events looking at Community Organising. This is what a trainer said Carisma had been doing without really realising it, so I want to investigate some more and see if there is something to be learnt for future direction. That will then be about it as far as going to conferences etc will be concerned - there were a couple more things pencilled in, but there is so much buzzing in my head already I think after the stuff in June it will be time to attempt to focus down and apply. There are so many issues and areas of interest and possible research and it's like each thing I look at opens up several more.

For Alannah's 18th on the 26th she asked for a Big Family Meal, so as many as could get there got together in Sheffield for a mega pub lunch. Rumours that several of the staff handed in their notice as the horde piled in have so far been unsubstantiated. It was a lot of fun, and also Tess's (Daniel's fiancee's) introduction to a number of Alannah's aunts, uncles and cousins. She survived! Photos here.

As for the 'Nice Surprise'... Having been offered some tickets to watch Chelsea in the F.A. Cup semi-final least year, this year, thanks to my brother-in-law Dave it was one better... 3 tickets for the first F.A. Cup final at the new Wembley Stadium - again featuring Chelsea! Again I was accompanied by Daniel and Judith's Chelsea-mad cousin Martin. A great day out, and though not exactly a classic final our team did win, which was an improvement on last year. To quote Martin (every ten minutes ever since apparently): "YESSSSSSSS!"

Maybe I'm reading too much into this but the epic clearing-out of the office and the way the golf pro has taken my swing (I use that term loosely) apart before beginning to put it together again so I can do what I was doing before only better, could be pictures of what is going on ministry-wise. Whaddyawl think? Don't touch that dial, folks. Keep it here and keep praying. As always all comments etc much appreciated.

And finally, with another off-spring hitting adulthood (yes, we are that old), I thought it appropriate to include for your edification and reflection the following thought on parenthood...

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Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Greetings from Benburb

I'm writing this from Benburb Priory, Northern Ireland where I'm staying for a weekend organised by Maranatha. When I saw it advertised in their mailing I realised the venue was a place I visited about 30 years ago as a young Christian. I have since bored many people with my reminiscences of my time here and how I felt the close presence of God, particularly on several walks in the woods by the river accompanied by the Irish Setter and Cormac and Rosheen the Irish Wolfhounds that were here then. Sometimes it can be disappointing to go back to places, but this afternoon I met the two dogs that now reside here - large black things of unknown breed (though not as big as Wolfhounds) - who just like their canine predecessors came along with me on a walk through the woods. In fact I was going to walk into the village, but they met me in the drive and more or less manoeuvered me off to the right to the path to the river! Talk about deja vu! Nice one God.

There are about 25 of us on this retreat, most from various parts of Northern Ireland. At our initial meeting this evening during a prayer time someone said that they felt that we should offer up our individual agendas for the weekend up to God, what we were hoping to get from it and instead ask him to do what he wanted to do in each of us. Fair enough. My first thought was that beyond re-visiting somewhere significant in my early spiritual life I didn't really have an agenda, but then I began thinking about this sabbatical/study leave and that I had an agenda for it of "having something to show" at the end of it. And I remembered that my most recent prayer to that effect was this very afternoon. It seemed that God was saying I needed to abandon that agenda, and that it was actually a human thing - I wanted to come out of this time with a neat package of guidance and direction or reading and writing accomplished to justify the time in other people's eyes. I needed to offer the time back to him (the whole S/SL not just this weekend) and let him accomplish what he wanted for it. That may or may not include some of those things - but it won't matter either way. Maybe it's a sort of variation of Matt 6 v33. Seek first the Kingdom... It could be this is what the anonymous note from the 'Caretaker' that has appeared on the end of the first entry in this blog is about. Go have a look.

I wonder what the rest of this weekend has in store? As I have no internet connection here and can't post this yet, read on...

Wednesday, Belfast City Airport...

The weekend was rather good and had a similar feel to the Renewal events I went to in the North and South of Ireland back in the 70's. (More deja vu. Is one of the features of this S/SL some re-visiting of my spiritual roots?) The people who came are from that movement in fact, some going back to the initial move of the Spirit in the 70's, some more recently 'awakened' as one lady put it. They were a lovely bunch, mixed Catholic and Protestant and the question never arose as to who was who. Which is how it should be. Good fellowship, sharing and ministry. I ended up co-leading one session (hope that doesn't count as 'work') and played a bit of guitar on Sunday to help out as one of the musicians had to leave on Saturday night. Several people asked me if I'd thought about moving back to N.I... hopefully they were just being polite and not speaking with the Unction of you know Who!!!

Then it was back to Belfast for a few days staying with mum. As they would put it here: "My ears are tawked aff me so they are."

P.S. Experimenting with adding video via YouTube.

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