The start of the end.



So yesterday marked a very significant day in the life of six of us BA students here at Cliff College. We finished our final lectures after three years of lectures. It just kind of happened and at the end there was no rejoicing, no great party, we just dispersed and went to get on with work or placement or getting ready for whatever the weekend plans were. Or that is what wil have happened after lunch. 


However my final lecture was exactly like a final lecture, it was sending us out. We looked at the missional heart and then as group tried to unpack what this meant for us and if it was just a gift, or something that was developed. (In the end we decided nicely down the middle, that it was both a gift given by God that needed to be developed and grown). And then we did the same as individuals. It was a brilliant lecture, it really got us ready to be sent out. (The lecturer shared some of his story, sharing about his organisation Micah 6-8)


This week I have been particularly thinking about three pieces of scripture the first:
“He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 25:8


The second: 
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


And thirdly:
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7


They seem pretty small verse, and they don’t really link, but for me this is what I’m going to walk in. Firstly I’m going to live in the knowledge that God will swallow up death – forever! That this race is already won and that the God I serve is compassionate. I hope that I shall die his servant and that before that time I can be his hand that wipes away tears and tells of this amazing hope that God has spoken. 


Secondly the Thessalonians passage means so much to me already. Each day I will rejoice, give thanks and praise god. For God is good, yesterday, today and forever. 


Lastly, the passage from 2 Timothy some one shared with me when I started here, she told me to walk with it, and as I now start to stand in a place where I have to leave an amazing community I have loved and will continue to love, and as things change rapidly in my life I will remember this passage. This really is the beginning of the last few months here. I have no more lectures, just a word count, 1 block mission, and then festival. Yet as I leave I am more aware that I still have so much to do here, and that the gifts that God has given me are not just to be shut away shyly for the future, but are already in use, are to be used and to be grown, just like the missional heart. I will step out in this power, love and self-discipline, willing to grow stronger and bolder in Christ and for Christ and the Kingdom of God. 


Have you got a verse that you’ve been reflecting on in your life? Or wish to add some comment or meaning to the three I’ve posted, then please feel free to comment.  

The Royal Norfolk Show

For the last couple of years I’ve had the great opportunity of working with the Churches Together Tent at the Royal Norfolk Show. For those of you who are unaware of this particular county show, it is currently the largest Show of its kind within the country, to the point this year Norfolk made the national travel updates due to the amount of traffic on the roads… usually no one outside our county needs to know.

The first few years I had the privileged of an in-tent job working with the Messy church set up. The tent is often set out as a cafe with activities for children families or any one really who wants to get involved and then with activities around the perimeter focused on the theme as well as a prayer space. I loved woking on the Messy Church work, it gave both an opportunity to be messy but to allow the adults as much as anyone to have the space to discuss faith in a non threatening if not slightly unusual environment that was not judgemental but trying to offer support in all ways. It wasn’t just families but teachers as well, especially primary school teachers who were not necessarily comfortable with teaching RE found it great to allow their children to explore faith through both messy and Godly play. With the two years I spent in-tent so to say I had a great many conversations with visitors to the show.

These last two years my role has been different, with the interest in chaplaincy my minister gave me the great opportunity to join other ministers, nuns and local chaplains in being show chaplains. I remember last year being completely daunted with the task when they showed me ‘my patch’ so to say. Firstly I was young. There is no denying the fact that in the culture in which I am most often perceived (British or Western) I am not of the age to talk to unless I am talking to those of that age, who probably should still consult some on older. It is difficult to think that in some cultures by now I would probably have been married off by now with at least a couple of children to fend for. Yet I recognise currently I have to have a lot of confidence within my ability and my identity, in some ways I can not hide behind the idea that age is wisdom because I do not have the wrinkles to pull it off (not all wise people have wrinkles and not all old people have wrinkles not all old people are wise and not all wise people are old – just as a disclaimer.) I do not have the identity of a dog collar, and actually this is something that people still connect with. The dog collar in some places can still be seen as something to respect. I found this year on my first at the show sharing the role with some who wore a dog collar meant that some people spoke to me because of the lovely lady I was with, who would not even recognise me the second day, let alone give me the time of day in some cases, because of this natural authority and respect the dog collar still gave. It was not the same in all cases but I still had to make my own identity and communicate that to the people with out the very helpful aid of a dog collar. Personally, I would like to recognise that the chaplains would have done and did there job wether with or with out the dog collar. They do an incredibly difficult but rewarding job and I pray that all chaplains in all situations from simple show chaplains to forces chaplains, betting shop chaplains to canal chaplains train chaplains to hospital chaplains and beyond continue to rest in God and allow his Spirit to continue working in there work.