Contemplative Practice

“Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form, without filters, judgments, and commentaries. Now you see why it is so rare and, in fact, “the narrow road that few walk on” (Matthew 7:14). The only way you can contemplate is by recognizing and relativizing your own compulsive mental grids–your practiced ways of judging, critiquing, blocking, and computing everything.
This is what we are trying to do by practicing contemplative prayer, and people addicted to their own mind will find contemplation most difficult, if not impossible. Much that is called thinking is simply the ego’s stating of what it prefers and likes–and resistances to what it does not like. Narcissistic reactions to the moment are not worthy of being called thinking. Yet that is much of our public and private discourse.
When your mental judgmental grid and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to you, because your pettiness is at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed!”

Richard Rohr

Youth work and Church Growth

Interesting piece from Naomi Stanton looking at relationship between Youth Work and Church. I’m flagging it up so I can point Church Leaders to it and is highlights the tensions that Youth Workers often experience in a Church that expects young people to be part of the service but is unwilling to change to enable or explore this possibility. There’s also something important about reminding Churches what it means to value young people
“Christian youth workers engage young people from church and non-church backgrounds. They are acutely aware of the problems they face integrating into churches. Yet churches often criticise youth work that does not directly translate into ‘bums on seats’ on Sunday mornings”
I look forward to reading more as I have many questions about the model being flagged up.I do however agree entirely with the conclusion cited:
“My research into young people’s experiences of Christian youth work challenges the dominant assumption that it is the young that have rejected the church. It’s the churches which too often reject the young”.

With gusto

It was our BIG carol service last night at the Church where I find myself, and a splendid affair it was too. There was the organ, an orchestra and the choir, all sounding top notch and a packed church … meaning the singing had gusto!
What I really loved though was that the church used a song written by one of the youth group. She played the guitar and sang lead in the midst of a wonderful arrangement that had been made of her song for the Orchestra and choir.
nix carols dec15.jpg
Officially feeling Christmassy now, even ate a Mince Pie!

Birmingham reflections

Had a useful day in Birmingham yesterday being updated on all things ‘Safeguarding’ alongside fellow Youth Advisers and Children’s Advisers from around the country. It proved to be most useful in terms of changes to DBS as well as road-testing responses to a whole raft of Child Protection questions, incidents and protocols. So if you want to ring me and ask ANY ‘related’ question today then feel free (as I now know 20 people who might be able to answer your question!)
Getting to Birmingham was not straight-forward. The getting up early and driving to Oxford was OK. My brief sojourn at the office was pleasant. The stroll to the station (despite the Oxford traffics attempt to fumigate me) was an agreeable prayer, muse and observe opportunity. The not straight-forwardness pertains entirely to trains! All was not well at Didcot and the resultant delays at Oxford were properly impressive, bordering on Geological timescales. The oddity of train travel is you have “Peak” and “Off Peak” travel. A “Peak” ticket must be bough for a “Peak” service even when the “Peak” train leaves after the time that the first “Off Peak” train should have left. So ended up with an expensive ticket as the only way to get to Birmingham in time was to catch the 08:09 that in actuality pulled out of Oxford at 09:20!
(In a world that is so often ruled by logic; a dalliance with the Railways can impart a rare encounter with mystery, myth and nonsense. Good for the soul
The training finished with sufficient time before the notional departure time of the train to allow an expedition to the German Christmas Market with some esteemed colleagues. As you can imagine this was enormously exciting for me as a sort of linguistic homecoming, speaking, as I do, Brummie and German. Perfect! Reflecting on practice, and sharing stories over hot honeyed wine was splendid.