Monday, April 25, 2005

Reflections on Youth Events from a Cynical Anglican

Highlights of the last three weeks have been meetings really. The Anglican Centre for Youth Ministry Studies had a great meeting where we talked about what we are going to do. Not in theory, but the nuts and bolts. And I am off tomorrow for another two day meeting to really give that a good going over. I am the kind of person that needs others ideas to spark off, and I have felt really constrained not having that starting point. We are trying to do some different things with the seminars that will engage people who are there, but also provide good material for dissemination through the web.
A week ago I was asked to run a discussion on our year of youth at the Auckland Diocesan Youth Synod. Youth Year is a three Tikanga year that will run from the beginning of Advent this year (4 Sundays before Christmas) to that same point in 2006. The point of the discussion was to work out some of what might be done during this year at the Diocesan level and at the parish level. What struck me was how small people’s vision was. Some under 40’s on vestry, more young people involved in church etc…. Me, I want 50% of our congregations to be under 40, and our worship caters for that age range. I want half our priests to be under 40. I want half of synod to be under 40. I want half our vestries to be under 40. We need to dream big, and until we do we will achieve little.
This weekend I was at Waikato Diocesan Road Rave, the annual big Diocesan Youth event. These guys think big. It numbered over 100 this time, and want to double it next year, which will be way too big for the venue we use. However, I really struggled. Partly because no one came to my workshop, which I spent too long putting together and spent way too little with campers. Partly it was the worship. I am so Anglican. Something happened in Israel and as a result I am way more into good 9and I mean good) liturgy, which we just do not offer young people. We sang lots of songs with I, and not much we. When we did go liturgy we had to chop and change it for the Baptist speaker, instead of working with her to see how what she was offering would work really well in the liturgy. I just got really cynical in the end and started singing “it’s all about me”.
And now I am sick, and I am off to Auckland for a 2 day meeting.

More after the meeting.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Spiritual Direction

I had a really interesting experience last night. One of my directees came to see me, and we talked about how we script our lives. In essence, we talked about how we use certain events in our lives to create a script or narrative through which we interpret and give meaning to other events that happen to us. Some of these are not very helpful.

One of my questions was about what kind of script God would write for this person. What did he think God would say about him? His observation was that while intellectually he could affirm these words and attitudes, this God Script as we called it, they didn't connect with his felt experiences. Interestingly, it is these felt experiences that shape his own script or narrative. Why is it we listen to the negative experiences that lead us away from God's love, and not to the experiences of God's love, that would allow us to know more intimately the God Script for our lives? In a way we choose to live in desolation, turned away from God, rather than in consolation, moving towards God.

What this helped me understand in a new way was what spritual direction is and the role it plays in our walk with God. Spiritual Direction provides an opportunity to pay attention in a deliberate way to our experience of God, and to rewrite our own spripts in light of that. More importantly, this paying attention also allows us understand our life through the God Script, rather than our much more negative script. In turn, spiritual direction provides a place to find our place in God's great story, which is told in scripture, and continues to be told through God's people today.

In essence, last night helped me see that spiritual direction asks of us which script we read our life through? Or our script, based on a selected few experiences, or God's script?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Loved Pedants

Yesterday I went to the installation of the new bishop of Dunedin. I went to this to both welcome him as the National youth facilitator for our Tikanga, to farewell him from our diocese, to support him as the Bishop Protector of us Franciscans, and to ensure he was safely installed. It was a great occasion to be part of.
In the speeches afterwards, Bishop Phillip from Taranaki talked about George being very pedantic, which he is. But he described this as George being careful about processes, and therefore careful about people. I guess I had instinctively known this, yet it clicked for me. Being careful about processes is being careful about people. To often people get a good idea, and charge ahead with it. The trouble is people get hurt, and the good idea never has the chance to become a great idea. It was a good learning for me, and I will try hard to be careful about processes in future.

I went to the last service of a much loved vicar today. It was inspiring to be part of a community that grieved his going, and the vicar grieved his going as well. It was also a celebration of a time of ministry that had been significant for all involved. I aspire to be like Gary, the vicar, loved, honest, yet careful with people. Out of that come inspiring ministry and mission.