Is Christianity Weird?

Who would have thought Milton Jones was so sensible?

If you don’t have it already, buy his book.

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Happy Yorkshire Day

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What Would Young Adults Say to The Wider Church?

I’m about to have a bishop arrive at my house to discuss how we engage with young adults 20-40 as church.  I just clicked on this link as I was going through my overflowing inbox.

Young Adults Leaving ChurchI am struck by the humility of everyone speaking to camera.  I’m also struck by the apologetic nature of the comments.  How do we as The Church ™ continue to instill an atmosphere that whether explicit or implicit makes younger people feel that they are interlopers?  The image says ‘leaving’ but I suspect that ‘leaving’ is a million miles down a road not traveled.

Last night I was asked how I ended up as part of the church.  As I told my story I recounted that at 18 years old I thought that I wasn’t allowed in church.  People like me are not acceptable in church.  We’re not good enough.

Is this the lived experience of most young people or is it the prevailing media narrative as told through film, sitcoms and newspapers?

I’d better dig out the hoover before the bishop arrives.

Mathematics

Trinity Video

Trinity

Worship Idea – Pentecost Popcorn

Fr Simon Rundell published one of the best idea for Pentecost on his blog whilst I was on holiday. I found myself in a bar in Rhodes looking up popcorn machines on eBay. When the day of Pentecost had arrived, we were gathered in Holy Nativity Church with the scouts and a load of visitors when there was the sound of a violent air powered popcorn machine and the pop of corn all over the altar.

I hate watching videos of myself. If you want to see it done well, check out Simon doing it himself. He didn’t accuse the first followers of being small and round!

What is “The Gospel”?

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There is an inherent inner tension that consumes many followers of the way. So many feel the conviction in their beliefs about Jesus but are unsure of how to articulate them to a quizzical world. Surely there must be an easy way to justify our deeply held beliefs? It must be possible to reduce the Christian faith into a suitably strong concentrated form that we can keep in the cupboard like stock cubes. Everyone is looking for something beefy that they can easily unwrap when they need it.

Here Tom Wright subtly reframes the questions people are keen to ask.

Instead of the formulaic reductionism that people seek, Wright frames “the gospel” in the context of something much bigger; the whole story. He sets the life of the Christian within the ongoing narrative of God’s interaction with humanity focussing on the person of Jesus Christ. Can you live with the unending quest for that illusive superficial “cure all”? The easily unwrapped gospel flavouring? Or would you rather focus on something much deeper and richer?

IF

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Earlier this year our Parochial Church Council decided to back the IF Campaign.  Members of the congregation brought it to the wider church because they believed it is something we should be doing to make our voices heard.  This is something people at Holy Nativity care about passionately .

As a community we read the bible each week and find that the author of our faith is challenging us.  From the sermon on the mount where Jesus calls us to a kingdom where the lowest are raised up and the poor shall be filled (Luke 6:20-21) to the things that we do “for the least of these” in Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus calls us to bring Justice.  Justice for the poor.  Justice for the hungry.  Justice for the oppressed.  At the Churches Together Lent Course this week we had a scientist talking about “God’s divine love revealed through science”.  As John spoke these words struck me:  “We live in a world that produces enough resources for everyone.  Sadly there are people who don’t like sharing”.

We’ve seen rhetoric for years about how the world is full of inequality.  We’ve seen other similar campaigns to bring an end to world hunger.  We remember Jubilee 2000.  We remember Live 8.  We remember Dawn French’s impassioned plea as Revd Geraldine Boadicea Granger.

In the UK we live lives where people feel disconnected.  We live in lives where people feel powerless.  We live lives where we assume that there is someone else going to make the decisions for us and we don’t have a say in that process.  A faceless “suit” who is going to make these inequalities happen anyway.  The way we begin living in a society that operates like this is by losing our voice.  By refusing to speak out.  By allowing the distractions that those in power want to throw at us to become the most important priority in our lives.

Tonight we raise money once again for Comic Relief.  So much of what we do is a response to the symptoms of poverty not to the root causes of poverty.  We raise money to fix problems that are often caused by the systems we perpetuate.  We don’t even realise they are there because they are under the surface.  If we’re honest, it is only in the last six months that anyone has thought twice about buying a Starbucks coffee because we didn’t know that there was a problem with corporate tax avoidance.  A member of the Halifax Food Drop in spoke to our Deanery Synod last week.  She said “this was never supposed to be a long-term solution”.  The few raising money to feed the hungry on a global scale was never supposed to be a long-term solution.

This is not how it should be.  In God’s kingdom, this is not how it should be.  You have a voice.  We all have a voice.  It is only by giving up our voice that we allow the few “suits” to make decisions for the many.  Join the campaign.  Publish it wide.  Write to your MP.  Tell your friends.  Tweet about it.  Put it on Facebook.  I don’t want to find myself posting a video of Geraldine Granger again in 8 years time.

The Silent Conspiracy

For the first six weeks of my new role in North Halifax I’ve sounded a bit like a cracked record. As we celebrate the incarnation, we’ve been talking about the incarnate God who steps into the world to bring transformation. The words of Mary in the Magnificat set out the stall for a kingdom where the least in society are held up. At the main celebrations of Christmas I shared Howard Thurman’s poem calling the gathered people to putting their faith in action.

Little did I know that in the coming days I would be amazed to discover that a member of our community was awarded an MBE for just that, a lifetime of work for the good of the community. Archbishop Rowan’s last New Years message is dedicated to encouraging people to “join this silent conspiracy of generous dedication”. This is the work of the local church, a faith in action bringing transformation to the lives of the people we live amongst.

In 2012 we have had a year where the media have been writing their own narrative of The Church (TM) and it is not a story I recognise in the reality of our lives.  We need to continue to faithfully tell our story of God who cares so much about the lives of the least that He inspires us to action in the communities we live in.

Bethlehem

Waiting.