Regular readers will notice I haven't posted that much recently... I guess that's down to 2 things; 1) I have been too caught up in real life... things have been moving rapidly here and changes are afoot (good ones for the community in terms of self-governance etc.) and it has been a very busy time here in Telford and 2) I have had lots to do elsewhere; several speaking engagements, meetings, a booklet of liturgies to put together etc. the next two months promise to be even busier! (to say nothing of the climactic end to the football season! with more to come on Monday!)
Anyway one of the things I've been busy working on is a series of seminars I am leading next week for the Church of Ireland Youth Officers Conference... Five sessions on "Exiles, Exodus and Entrepreneurs"... I don't tend to do full notes, I'm far too undisciplined to stick to them! But I have the main headings and a whole load of quotes as a pdf. feel free to download and digest ;-) I might try to record the sessions (if I can get a mic for my iPod in time) and upload mp3s later.
Failure is just part of the culture of innovation. Accept it and become stronger
Albert Yu, Senior Vice President of Intel
If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever happen
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosopher
The innermost mechanism of human progress is called failure. If it were not for all the fools trying to do the impossible - over and over again - we would still be living in caves... failure happens. Give people trust and it will happen more productively.
Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom, Business Gurus
We should do something when people say it is crazy. If people say something is good, it means that someone else is already doing it. Hajime Mitari, the President of Canon
The definition of a lousy product is one that has no enemies within the company
Arno Penzias, Bell Labs
It takes a lot of ruin to make the wealth of a great nation
CMS "Yes" Magazine has an edition focussed on Samuel Ajayi Crowther this month. Crowther was born in Osogun in the Yoruba country, West Africa (approximately modern Nigeria). Gareth Sturdy writes that "at Crowthers birth, a tribal diviner had forbidden that the boy enter any of the local deity cults because hewould grow up to be a servant of Olorun, the God of Heaven". He was snatched and sold into slavery, to Portuguese slave traders in 1821. The ship he was being carried on was attacked by the British Navy, half of the slaves do not survive the attack. Crowther, along with the rest of the survivors was taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone. After time spent with African Christians he found a faith and eventually became a Bishop. Professor Andrew Wallis says of Crowther, "Certainly he's the representative of a new way of life, which is shown by Christian Worship, and dress, and other things, but it doesn't interfere with a sense of belonging, of congruence with local society. He's not a stranger in that society... there is a connection with a still unbroken African world-view" He was and is renown for his humility, though he is regarded as a hero of Western Africa, founding the Niger Mission, an indigenous mission and translated a Yoruba Bible. He is said to have pointed to the monotheistic roots of Yoruba religion, saying that a call to Christ was a return to a higher belief, Sturdy again writes "By extension elements of traditional Yoruba belief were said to prefigure and prophecy Jesus. The adoption of faith in Christ. therefore, was not a rejection but an evolution of Yoruba belief" ... two well known sayings of his indicate the kind of man Crowther was...
May I ever have a fresh desire to be engaged in the service of Christ, for it is perfect freedom.
I do not despise the day of small things and can discover the leadings of Providence in things of this description.
Sadly, his story doesn't end the way one might hope... In 1885 The Congress of Berlin legitimised European claims over Africa territory, and rights of navigation on the Niger and Congo. The following European Missionaries denigrated the mission of Crowther, took over his work and accusing him of being weak pointed to him as an example of the need for Western Mission/Christianity. He died a broken man in 1891. I guess one could say he lived at a time when the physical enslavement of African people was being replaced by a religious/spiritual colonialism.
We have a community get-away this weekend, we don't have much of an agenda/programme... the idea is to spend some time really getting to know each other... intimacy and accountability etc... but there will be three short meditations (one each day) led by different people... Lou and I are doing tonight's... it's based on a well known/used idea...
Weekend "Stone" meditation
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God's nature.
He created them male and female. Genesis 1v27
We are formed, moulded, shaped, designed, created… in our very being we bear the marks of our creation, the fingerprints, the brushstrokes, the evidence of our making… in our character we see echoes of our parent, our dna, our personality holds a pattern of our creator; our love, compassion, pain, anger, sorrow, joy in the small things, creativity, need for community. We inhabit a world of the very same stuff, the substance, the essence, the complexity, the beauty, the wildness, the diversity. The cry of God that set the universe in motion, set our hearts beating.
Take a stone in your hand, look at it, turn it around, feel its surface – its shape, its texture, its colour, its bruises and cracks, its worn edges… can you imagine its story, the journey it has been on, the secrets it holds. How has it come to your hand? Was it once laid down by a great ocean, containing the remnants of what was once teeming life, slowly compressing, solidifying the history of the plants and animals that lived and died together… Did it lie for centuries deep in the heart of the earth, only to be thrown in an instant up and into the cooling air, cooling and shaping crystals and colours, becoming the building blocks of the great mountains and islands… was it changed by great pressure and heat, tormented by the twists and turns of the planet, pulled and pushed, stretched and stratified… What forces shaped it, ice and fire, wind and tide, erosion and eruptions… smashing it, polishing it, shaping it… the many episodes bringing it to this moment.
Now turn to yourself, what has your journey been, what have been the things that have shaped you, that have brought you to this moment; the joys, the struggles, the memories, the pain, the people. How have the forces on your life changed you, how have you been formed into who you are now? What are the rough edges; the bits ground down and polished, the cracks and the shining crystals? What might be next, what might you become? For you are a perfect creation, all of your facets and flaws add to who you are, make you unique. The Creator delights in you. You in all you are, whether you bubble like a mountain spring or are as still as a hidden pool, whether you feel tossed in the winds of a storm or cooled by a gentle breeze in the heat of the day, whether you rejoice in the closeness of others or feel most “you” in the dark solitude of the night, whether life rushes on or whether every day feels like a marathon… you are a perfect creation. Unique and loved, designed and created, shaped and formed, smashed and polished, you are you.
Place your stone in the centre to make a pile, a cairn. A cairn is a sign of the way ahead, a pool of safety for the lost and the confused. A cairn is just a pile of ordinary stones, all different, all beautiful, all individual, on their own worthy of examination and awe… but together they are community, they share purpose, they serve the explorer, they cry out in the fog and the cloud… it’s OK, keep going! They together can bring peace and safety.
God is building a home. He's using us all-irrespective of how we got here-in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. Ephesians 2v19+20
Look around at the other people here they too are perfect creations, reflections of the creator… Who are they? What do they bring? How are they unique? What is their story? What are their bruises and cracks? What are their shining features? How do they reflect God in the community? How do they reflect God in the world?
Take some time this weekend to listen to the stories of others, to value them as different to yours but as a part of them and a part of their ongoing creation… seek to see God in them, God is there. They are a perfect creation.
Yes... Telford have been promoted to the (Blue Square) Conference North! With Leeds being relegated, now Derby just need to emulate the Bucks to make my season perfect (and a bonus would be Nottingham Forest missing out... Sorry Ben!)