In the past I have led lots of weekends away for young people. They were always memorable times of building faith and encouraging friendships, as well as being loads of fun!
I have just come back from a rather different weekend away with a great bunch of folk who are part of several groups of people with whom my wife and I connect, the main group being Sunday@thepub.
It feels like we have been building up to this weekend for a while now and it just felt that now was the right time. I have been wanting to explore a deeper sense of community than we can find when we meet on a Sunday night in the local pubs that have become our ‘church buildings’. These are great spaces to create community, but we have limited time to develop them.
Because of the diversity of the group and the fact that not everyone comes on a Sunday night it was important to allow people the chance to feel part of the group but to keep some of the elements of what we are about on a Sunday night and to explore some elements of corporate worship and discussion.
There were many highlights about the weekend, opportunities to share in small groups, to walk together, to have space to be alone and relax together. We allowed space for worship encounters through liturgy from various sources, as well as through creating stations for people to wander around, a community space for discussion and dialogue about ‘rules of life’ and the things that we do that we consider to be ritualistic.
The main highlights for me were eating together around a huge table… it brought to mind the last supper as we sat around the table, eating, drinking, laughing, sharing conversation. There was something Holy about those moments. As I have thought about it I have imagined Jesus doing the same kind of thing with his friends, I have imagined him eating and drinking with all kinds of people some of which were the wrong people in the eyes of the religious leaders.
New Testament scholar Robert Karris says this ‘In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal’. I love this idea, meals are about welcome, they speak of friendship, generosity, and dependance on others who have prepared the food and they embody God’s grace and enact mission by their very nature.
Another highlight was our walks, we would stop and pause along the way at various times for a reflection, we would choose to sometimes walk with others and sometimes to walk alone, we had the opportunity to play on the beach and to drink in the surroundings. All of these experiences are about connection, connection with others, with ourselves, with nature and of course with God. There is also a rhythm to walking which can help in understanding these connections in a deeper way, each step an opportunity, a reminder of the simple things that God can so often speak into.
This was our first weekend away, but I doubt it will be our last!
Hi folks, this week we are meeting at the Sportsman in Preston Village at 8.00 pm, if you are able why not join us!
This weeks reflection come from a guest… it’s from Rob Bee the link takes you to his twitter account. Rob is one of my best mates from Harrogate, we go back along way… Enjoy!
A couple of weeks ago I came to Sunday at the Pub, and I’m joining you again this week and bringing my wife with me this time too. Rob has asked me to write this week’s reflection as part-payment for the board and lodgings that he and Karen are giving us.
I’ve known Rob for more years than I care to admit to (he’s like ones of those lingering colds that you just can’t quite get rid of), and we’ve seen each other through quite a number of good times and bad. Despite the fact that we now live about 150 miles apart he remains one of my closest friends. And yet… And yet it’s still a surprise seeing him when he’s working: it’s Rob, but it’s not quite Rob. The context that I usually see him in is different to his work environment and so my picture of who he is differs from the facet of his personality most on display while he’s working. I know that he would say the same as I’m very organized and efficient when I’m working, and certainly neither of those things any other time.
I really enjoyed Sunday at the pub and am glad to be able to come again. I used to regularly attend small groups and discuss faith, but I don’t get the opportunity to do so any more. I’ve also given up on online Faith forums because after reading them for a while you get the same arguments going round and round and getting personal as the debaters forget that they’re supposed to love each other and they make their disagreements personal. They forget that when we discuss our faith with other believers we meet people who have also met God. But just as when we meet people we meet them in differing circumstances, we meet God with our different backstories and needs, and therefore it’s to be expected that we will see different facets of God’s love and form opinions which are unique to us. Where our picture of God differs wildly from another person’s this can lead to disagreement and distrust (this is true not only of those within in the Christian community, but also of those of different faiths – whether God has a capital ‘G’ or not in those cases is down to your picture of God). The thing is though, that none of us have come to our position of faith lightly and there is always a reason why we have come to the conclusion about God that we have. Our faith is hard-won and an essential part of our being; it won’t be easily shaken by name-calling and heated argument. We all have a picture of God and a duty to Love each other. So when you’re faced with someone who holds a position you abhor, instead of quoting scripture and telling them why they’re wrong (not that I think you would do that), take a deep breath and ask them why they believe what they believe. You may learn something.
1. 1 Corinthians 1:10 says “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” And Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Doesn’t that mean we should all think the same way? Is there such a thing as Absolute Truth?
2.How valuable do you find discussion and disagreement?
3.What if Westboro Baptist Church are right?
4.Is there one particular event in your life that’s particularly shaped your picture of God?
5. Whose round is it?