God's Geek

Reflections and random thoughts of a geeky youth worker in North London...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Andy Flannagan Fan

Hhhmmm.... I have seen Andy Flannagan about 6 times in the last week. He was at Merseyfest and at Greenbelt and saw him loads at both events. I thought he was even better at Greenbelt than at Merseyfest, as he was accompanied by various instruments including an oboe, violin, cello and bass. Sounding a bit obsessed but I am not, honest!

I am trying to work out why I like him so much... I think it is because his songs are thought provoking and not always immediate - it takes a while to get to the depth of the song. And he just seems really genuine and interacts really well with the crowd. And I like the music! While at Greenbelt I went to a worship session that he led with others on Make Poverty History. Monday was MPH day and Greenbelt used the story of the Wizard of Oz to get people involved. The session looked at the tin man's heart and we thought about how to get God's heart for justice. There was liturgy, drumming, a yellow brick road and lots of lovely bread. The whole thing was thoughtful and challenging across different ages., and I am trying to get hold of some of the material so I can borrow parts in the future.

Anyway... the post isn't really going anywhere, so I'll stop rambling soon - if you haven't heard his album 'Son', give it a listen as there are some great songs and it is a good CDRom package as well. I love the song 'Why does life have to be so fragile?' with a beautiful accompanying video and moving story, but it isn't on the album. You'll just have to go and see him live.

Stiff Crowd Surfing

Right - I have loads to post about so will attempt to add a few new posts in the next few days covering Greenbelt, Merseyfest and the National Portrait Gallery! There was a lot of blogging talk at Greenbelt, which has inspired me to update my blog more regularly, although I am currently fighting my husband's assumption that as I have a blog I am also a geek. He is the geek in this relationship!

Anyway, back to Merseyfest. It was a great week from my point of view and also from the point of view of the organisers according to a recent email. It was cool to meet up with other Christians and get our hands dirty doing stuff in the community. Our project involved clearing the ground of a burnt down youth centre as it had got rather over grown and unsightly. Although the pictures don't do it justice, we really did get a lot of done and it was very satisfying clearing a lot of the concrete and lino(!) The only down side was that the project didn't seem to be very sustainable as there are no firm plans to redevelop the site and some of the work that we did could probably be done by diggers in no time at all. However, it was great to show the local council that young people had travelled up from London to support their community. It has also hopefully raised awareness of the area, giving greater impetus for the council to develop the land in a way that is beneficial for the whole community. And the people that we worked with were ace!

So, this was our projects for the afternoon, but in the morning and on a couple of the evenings everyone got together for worship and teaching. And there was some great stuff being said. One of the people that spoke was Pete Grieg, accidental founder of 24/7 prayer. I had never heard him speak before and found him very funny and challenging. He reminded us that we are all carrying the good news of Jesus and God wants to use each and everyone of us to show others his love. We also spent time praying for the communities of Merseyside. One of the ways that we did it was by praying for all of the church leaders present - which involved crowd surfing. All of the church leaders that were present 'dived' from the front of the stage and were crowd surfed to the back of the marquee. I had a go and it was an amazing experience. I felt that it was prayerful and very symbolic to be help up in prayer (and of course literally help up) by so many others. The whole experience was powerful if a little scary... I was told later that I looked very scared and very stiff!!

I have never crowd surfed before as I have always found crowd surfers at gigs incredibly anti social. But it was a reminder to me that we do need to hold each other up in prayer and pray for our leaders.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

After... believe me, a lot of hard work was involved! Posted by Picasa

Before... Posted by Picasa

I'm Back!

I have returned from Merseyfest! We had a great week in Liverpool and I haven't laughed so much in a long time. The group that I was camping with were loads of fun and we had a great time. And - hallelujah - despite it pouring with rain the day before we went and the day after we came home, we had brilliant weather all week which makes a real difference when camping. And I had a hot shower every day!

We had a cool time working on our project in Lydiate and we met the loveliest couple in existence - Arthur and Betty - more of them another time. All in all, it was a great week although I am very glad to be home and on holiday and looking forward to Greenbelt (And B & B accommodation) at the end of the week. Will blog more about the week away soon.. in the meantime, here are a couple of before and after photos of our oroject...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

'How are you?' 'Oh, you know, busy...'

...seems to me that whenever I ask someone how they are, or if someone asks me how I am that this is our response. How did we all get so busy?

Had a really busy week trying to sort out everything for the autumn term and for the rest of the year before Merseyfest and holiday and it is 955pm, I haven't packed yet and I am still finishing off emails and programmes. Now undoubtedly this is partly cos I still struggle with time management and I blog at inappropriate times (ie now) but this isn't the whole story. I am often busy with work and when I am not working I am busy seeing friends and family and when I am not doing that me and Neil are busy with one thing or another...

And most people that I know are the same. And yet I have an inkling that perhaps it is not meant to be this way and God is more interested in us following his path for us than busying ourselves with all this stuff. It is sometimes hard though, isn't it? Finding stillness and quiet to hear God's voice to know when to be active and when to rest. It's hard to not strive to look good by doing many things and it is sometimes hard to know what things to do and what things to not do, what to commit to etc when there is so much that would be great to be involved with.

When I was at Carroty Wood the other week one of the girls did an impression of me during a drama. It involved me being fairly scatty (true - I had to borrow money of young people yesterday when I left my wallet at home) and well, busy. And I am pretty sure that that is not what God wants me to portray to the young people that I am privileged to be with.

For those of you that are Christians that read my wafflings, could you please pray that I would get some rest over the next couple of weeks and that I would find time to chill in God's presence and, through that, seek his direction. 'Be still and know that I am God...' Psalm 46:10

Friday, August 12, 2005

New competition - most bizarre tshirt

Following on from the previous post, while researching the talk, I found this T-shirt, which is quite frankly weird. And wrong. How very odd.

This surely contends with some of the Tshirts that Pete mentioned recently on his blog??

Mary Magdalene: the woman behind the myth

Oh it is August.. the time of year when youth workers are let loose to do talks in front of the adults! It was my turn last Sunday and I had a great fun. It was one of those times when I was given any topic at all to preach on and I chose... Mary Magdalene! (which will be no great surprise to those that know me well)

I have been really interested in her since I went to uni and this was a great chance to look at her character in more detail. I started off by thinking about the things that influence our belief sysyem and made the point that our faith is influenced by many things such as the Bible, Christian books, culture, media etc... I then looked at the biblical account of Mary Magdalene to see what we know of her from the gospel accounts (Luke 8:1-3 is interesting, as is the fact that she has a central role in all 4 death and resurrection accounts).

After establishing what is actually in the Bible, I looked at the way that she has been represented through the ages and why:
  • reformed prostitute
  • penitent sinner
  • the embodiment of the church
  • apostle of the apostles
  • wife of Jesus and mother of his child a la Da Vinci Code!

The aim of the talk was to compare what we think we know of Mary Magdalene with what we actually know of her from the Bible. Here, we learn that she was a woman of means who financially supported Jesus, someone who was cured of 7 demons and was one of the first to see Jesus raised from the dead - in John she is the first to talk to him and hold him. Church history (until recently) and popular films tell us (amongst other things) that she was a prostitute - which I don't believe is a fair conclusion.

Why is this important? Well, personally, I remember being genuinely shocked at uni when I looked at the Bible and found out that there was no written evidence that she was a prostitute. I honestly believed that it was a part of the biblical account. And whether people are bothered about the story of Mary or not, I think that it is important that Christians continue to think and reflect on the different tensions that exist within our faith. I believe it is so easy to accept things and assume that they are biblical or with a firm foundation when perhaps things are not as clear as they seem. Church history and tradition, the media, friends, maybe a powerful preacher, Christian books etc etc affect our beliefs in many ways and perhaps more than we think. This isn’t always a bad thing but it is something we should be aware of and we should keep returning to God through his son and spirit and word.

Anyway, this is not as lucid as the talk (at least I hope the talk was more lucid) but I wanted to share a little of this as it's really important to me. .. if you are interested in Mary Magdalene, I found a good website that as far as I could see had a fairly good academic foundation although it's not specifically Christian... http://www.magdalene.org

As always, feel free to add any comments etc etc


Okay just a quickie... we had a big thunderstorm last night which is always exciting but it reminded me of a conversation I recently had with my husband...

Do you know the way that you count between thunder/lightening to find out how far away the storm is... which way round are you meant to count?

Do you see the lightening then count until you hear the thunder or the other way round? Your help would be much appreciated as I think I have been counting it the wrong way round for a number of years.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Summer Hols

At last! A decent chance to blog and reflect... the summer hols have been fairly busy so far, mainly because last week was spent re-decorating 2 of the rooms at church. A team of young people and me were directed by a very patient man called John, as we transformed the 'Amy Grant Room' into a multi purpose, practical and chilled out room with a youth focus (!) and an under used room that isn't really used for anything into a prayer room. We have now done most of the painting and the laminate flooring will follow soon. We need to sort out the cushions and various other 'features' but tonight I saw for the first time the new TV/DVD player with speakers that will act as a CD player as well. The person who bought it for me knows loads of techy stuff but I commented that it sounds good and, more importantly, the speakers will match the room! Technophobe, moi?

Anyway, they are going to look good and be very well used, which is much more important! Roll on September when they are due to be completed...

But before that, there are various other fun things happening. We are off to Merseyfest (http://www.merseyfest.com) in a week and a half, which should be great fun. It is a week full of worship, teaching, community projects and lots of lovely warm showers every morning... perhaps. Then me and Neil have got some time off ending with Greenbelt http://www.greenbelt.org.uk! I have never been before and I am really looking forward to it. When I have spoken to some people about Soul Survivor they have responded that they are more Greenbelt people... and vice versa... whereas I hope to enjoy them all! Now that is post modern! I am hoping to bump into lots of people at both events and am pretty sure I will bump into Paul at Merseyfest (http://paulwindo.blogspot.com) and hopefully I will see Ben and Helen at Greenbelt (http://www.benaskew.blogspot.com/ and http://helenaskew.blogspot.com/)

Summer reading looks good as well - I finally bought Practising Passion by Kenda Creasey Dean today, which I have been meaning to buy for ages. I also bought Colossians remixed which also looks really interesting. I have discovered that charity shops sell very recent books dirt cheap and will probably dip into Adrian Mole:the Cappucino Years although I don't know if it is any good. I have got a Dan Brown book lying around but he tends to annoy me so I am not sure if I'll read it.

With Parliament (saw them last week - disappointing), Coldplay, Damien Rice, Gorillaz, Andy Flanagan and the Killers on the stereo (not all at once), August is looking good.