Friday, June 29, 2012

MethConf 2: This time it's personal

So here we are again, Methodist Conference. I'm in the fine city of Plymouth, ready for 6 days of debate, disscussion and... Doughnuts? (I couldn't think of another 'd')

Tonigh has been nice, Girlfriend and I went for a lovely Methodist funded date to Wetherspoons, then went for a nice walk by the sea (where I bored her with my Danish Armarda and military hardware facts). That was followed by a quick drink wth to other young reps, before a (fairly) eaarly night. Also, a by of a lie-in tomorrow, WIN!

So stay tuned for my daily thoughts, and keep an eye on Twitter (#methconf) and the live stream on the Methodist Conference Website.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Moses I know you're the man.

A few weeks ago we sang a song I hadn't sung in a long, long time. It's called 'Moses I know you're the man.' If you know it, you'll know it is kind of a kids song, part of the 'And we'll have a song for the kids before they leave us' selection. But a few bits of it really jumped out at me on, so I thought I'd share my thoughts. /before that, I must say that this song makes me giggle because the chorus is:

'So every day
we’re on our way,
for we’re a travelling, wandering race
called the people of God.'

but I keep accidentally singing 'We're a travelling Womble-ling race', and have images of Christians wandering around Wimbledon Common picking up litter with Uncle Bulgaria.

Anyway... the second verse goes:
‘Don’t get too set in your ways’,
the Lord said
‘Each step is only a phase ‘
the Lord said.
‘I’ll go before you and I shall be a sign
to guide my travelling wandering race .
You’re the people of God ‘

When I sang this I immediately thought of our church institutions, and how static and wrapped up in traditions they can be. In all levels of the Church we (half jokingly) make references to how things have to be done a certain way, "Because that is how it always has been done." An example of this is the chairs at my church (yes, I said chairs, we've not had pews for a long as I can remember). Until fairly recently, an elderly gentleman used to go in with his piece of string, tie it to various strategically placed hooks on the wall and check that all the rows were at the right angle and had the right number of chairs in. If they weren't right, the last group who moved them were in trouble.

That is a silly example, but it highlights how we can be sometimes. We hold onto things because they are what we know, they are comfortable. But is that healthy? Probably not.

Things need to change at times. Times change, people change, situations change. If the Church doesn't keep up, then it is in trouble. Change can be scary, a leap into the unknown. But if it is done carefully, and it is what lead by God, then something good will come from it.

I remember the first proper Methodist Youth Assembly in its current form, Durham '09. There was a group of us, the 'old school' (I was 20 at the time...) who spent a lot of the time complaining that it was nowhere as good as the old Youth Conference style, that the One Programme could never compete with the Exec, and that all these changes had ruined something I had put a lot of effort into. But looking back now, having seen MYA/3Generate mature a bit, I'll admit I was wrong. There were issues at Durham, but that was to be expected with a whole new format. Kidderminster 2011 was amazing, and I'm glad it changed. 3Generate, the One Programme and the Youth Participation Strategy have been amazing in improving youth participation in the Methodist Church, and God is working in amazing ways through it.

I could easily have taken that verse in a more personal direction, as there is all will be a lot of change in my life at the moment, as a graduate who is still looking for a 'proper' job and also in a long distance relationship, but I'll keep that one for another day.

The other verse that grabbed my attention was:

 ’Look at the birds in the air ‘
 the Lord said
‘They fly unhampered by care’
the Lord said
‘You will move easier if you’re travelling light
for you’re a wandering  vagabond race.
You’re the people of God ‘.

As I mentioned in previous blogs, I like hiking, and have recently been looking and reading about how to reduce the amount of kit you carry when hiking. Travelling light makes it easier to walk long distances, but also makes you more reliant on things around you. Rather than carrying all the water you need, why not just take some purification tablets and rely on a stream. Why carry a bulky stove when you could collect wood and build a fire with only a match and some cotton wool?

And our lives can be like that, we can carry everything on our shoulders, and be weighted down by it, not really getting far because our load is making us slow and cumbersome, and unhappy. Or we can rely on other people, and especially on God, to reduce the load we bear ourselves. I know that when I have a problem, just talking about it with a close friend makes me feel better, they lift the weight off my shoulders, making me lighter, happier, and in a better position to face the world.

Just remember, nothing need be scary or heavy if you entrust it to God.