Those were the days

I am, officially, getting old.
It’s not the white hairs (although there’s a few of those making their way through) and it’s not the fact that the smile lines around my eyes and the worry lines on my forehead are rapidly approaching the point when they run into each other and can all just be classified as “wrinkles”.  It’s not even the fact that when I forget to shave or iron my shirt nowadays I look less “devil-may-care” and more “scary hobo”.
It’s the music.
Cal teaches high school, and will occasionally play me some of her student’s favourite music.  The reason I know I’m old is that it makes me want to rant.
“It’s wannabe, plastic, pre-packaged rebellion.” I tell Callie.
“There’s not a note out of place because they’ve run the vocals through a computer.   And you can understand every word!  What’s the point of that?”.
It is of course, because the young people of today are doing it all wrong.  When you’re young, music should be loud and brash and occasionally out of tune.  Singers should be so caught up in the song that they slur and occasionally forget the words.  Because that’s how it was for me.
For me, a big part of being young was about going to dim smoky pubs with sticky floors and seeing bands playing loud music, some of which they seemed barely to have learned. It made me feel alive. Most of those dim, smoky pubs are pizza restaurants and poker-machine venues now.  And the music that young people listen to is different.  It talks about and to a different world, with different joys and wonders as well as different dangers.
I could force my 14 year old nephew to sit down and listen to some “real music”. I could probably even wait until the next time one of my old favourite bands came out and drag him to the gig.  He’d do it. He’s very polite.  But what would be the point?  For him it would be like a trip to a crazy museum where grown adults unfathomably danced to ill-concieved tunes.
I wonder whether it might be the same in the church.  Are we hoping that young people will make their home with us, be fed by the church as it fed us, find life in the church as we found it?  Do we find it hard to understand when we see people living lives that seem to lack community, morality, faith in the way we understand them?
Just  as my nephew is happily using music I don’t much like to provide a soundtrack to his life, is it possible that God might be engaging with people in ways we don’t understand?  Is it possible that God is already working in people’s lives, and that by waiting and hoping for them to come to us, we’re denying the work that God is already doing?
What if we did it differently?  What if we looked not for the signs of the worship, prayer life, or community that has fed us, but instead looked simply for worship, prayer and community?  What if we found God was already there waiting for us to smile politely and jump on in?


Source: Gareth

So many Voices

God our creator
You breathed your word upon the waters
and life sprang forth,
turbulent, colourful, painful in its joy
Your whisper from a burning bush
Your booming voice upon the mountain
set your people free
and gave them the law so they might live in tumultuous delight.
A: You have spoken to your people
in so many places,
in so many voices.
Jesus our Lord,
Your cry from a manger called out for love.
Your voice raised in encouragement on a hillside
called that love forth in all of us
Your compassionate murmur as you wrote in the dust
surrounded by angry, stone-bearing men…
Your shout of anger as you contemplated the powerless being deprived…
Your victorious grace
as risen from the grave
you told your closest “feed my sheep”
A: You have spoken to your people
in so many places,
in so many voices.
Holy Spirit
In the voices of the prophets
holding the powerful to account.
In the voices of the teachers
helping us make sense
of this glorious, terrifying gift of life.
In the voices of those around us
committed to compassion and love.
A: You have spoken to your people
in so many places,
in so many voices.
And still you speak.
Your voice has not fallen silent.
Your grace has not failed us.
We still dare pray “Your will be done.”
And so we do pray in the words
Jesus taught his friends…


Source: Gareth

What we Take With Us


 I had my birthday on Thursday. I gathered my family  and we crammed into our house in Hawthorn and had a party. It was loud: there were tiny nephews rushing every which way and whooping with the joy of being together.
There were presents (I like presents )and lamb and sausages (I like Lamb and sausages ) and chicken cooked with herbs from our front garden( I like… you get the picture.)  But the piece de resistance was an amazing Key Lime Pie that Callie made.
Last year was a big year for us.  We got married in April and then went to America for our honeymoon in September.  I loved the U.S. for a lot of reasons.  If I ever run away from home, start the search for me in New York.  But Key Lime Pie was a discovery we made in Boston.
We were getting close to the end of the trip by the time we got to Boston.  I’d been overwhelmed by the hugeness of NYC, and then captivated by its movement, light and sound.  In Washington I’d stood at the Lincoln Memorial on the spot where Martin Luther King had made his “I have a dream” speech, and then seen a presidential motorcade roll past.  (It wasn’t all moments of noble significance; I’d also gone to the international spy museum and spent time geeking out at the actual golden gun from the Bond movie  “Man with the Golden Gun”.)
And there’d been burgers. Many many burgers.  It was only the fact we were walking four or five hours of the day that allowed me to fit on the plane on the way home.  So by the time we got to Boston, we were ready for some salad.  So, paradoxically we went to the California Pizza restaurant (the “California” in its name appeared to be code for “we serve vegetables”). 
And after we’d eaten our big salads (and yes, perhaps a little pizza) we were talking to our waiter who was from the South, and new to Boston himself..  He asked if we wanted desert and when we said no, he looked at me and said “I really think you should.  It’s just… you strike me as a Key Lime Pie man.”  I was.  I really really was.  It’s delicious… incredible sweetness offset by lime-rind sourness.  I looked at Callie across the table and told her I’d discovered a new love.
I wouldn’t really want to live in America.  I love it here too much, and my family and friends are here.  Also, I like being part of a country with universal health care and a reasonable minimum wage. But if I hadn’t bought a single souvenier I’d still have brought something away with me from America.  A sense of excitement and grandeur, the experience of those museums and gallerys… the memory of sitting in the peace of Central Park…. and of course the love of Key Lime Pie.
When people come to our church, they’re not always looking to be here for good.   Even if they are,  life is fast moving and unpredictable.  Changes happen whether we want them to or not.  People are part of our lives here, and then work, or family, or adventure takes them onwards.  When they go, they go with our blessing.
If people come and stick around, that’s fantastic.  But if we see someone for a day, or a few weeks, or even a year or two before they move on, I’d like our church to be an experience that never leaves them.  Something that wherever they go, whatever they do in days and years to come, has given them a memory of an experience of God, an experience of joy, grace, even love.  Can we be a place that people suddenly return to in their minds when they hear a certain song, smell a certain smell… taste a certain taste?


Source: Gareth