Monday, 26 November 2007
Came across a site called 'www.godtube.com'. It's a kind of replica of youtube and I'm sure there is a lot of dodgy stuff on there but I found a great speech given by Bono on it. He gave an address after receiving a humanitarian award recently in the US.
Here's the part that resonated with me.
'This is true religion. True religion will not let us fall asleep in the comfort of our freedom. 'Love thy neighbor' is not a piece of advice, it is a command. And that means a lot, that means a lot. That means, that in the global village, we have to start loving a whole lot more people, that's what that means. That's right. His truth is marching on...whatever thoughts we have about God, who He is, or even if God exists, most will agree that God has a special place for the poor. The poor are where God lives. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes, where the poor play house. God is where the opportunity is lost, and lives are shattered. God is with the mother who has infected her child with a virus that will take both their lives. God is under the rubble, in the cries we hear during war time. God, my friends, is with the poor, and God is with us, if we are with them!!! This is not a burden, this is an adventure!! And don't let anyone tell you it cannot be done! We can be the generation that ends extreme poverty!! Thank you!!"
Friday, 23 November 2007
Indeed...it's 3.27am in the morning and I can't sleep. It's been a crazy week and we had a mad (but awesome) night at The Bloc tonight which is our youth club for teenagers in the estate. Think I'm still winding down.
My poor wife has had a bad migraine all week and hasn't had much sleep so I thought I'd come downstairs and watch some TV rather than do the whole tossing and turning thing. Unfortunately I forgot that digital TV late at night consists of....wait a minute and I'll flick through and literally give you the programme titles...Quiz call, desperate housewives, late night shopping, street crime UK 4, Yankee Candles on QVC, More4 Preview, Animal Airport(?), Cambridge Folk Festival (I kid you not), Teleshopping, ITV Play, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Top Gear.
Not much on as you can see! So I thought I'd type a blog instead.
Andrea and I had a great chat tonight about all sorts of stuff. We've been so busy this week that it was so good to sit and just chat about anything and everything. I'm in a show next week in Barry and between rehearsals, youth clubs, church meetings, cell, appointments etc. we've kind of missed each other this week and our life has been about functioning together. You know the kind of thing... 'I'll do tea on Wednesday', 'I'll wash the car tomorrow afternoon', 'Can you pick up the parcel from the post office later?', 'I'm off to bed babe.', 'Nite!'. It's just been one of those crazy weeks.
Sometimes that's just life and you have to make sure at least that things still function. But if that's all a relationship is about it soon dries up. Just functioning. Even after just an hour and a half tonight of us having some time sharing together, uninteruppted, chatting about what's going on in our lives- all of a sudden we were much closer to each other again. Andrea shared a few tears as she told me how tired she is with work at the moment, I vented some of my frustrations about leading a young church (trying to anyway!). We had some chats about the ups and downs of being two months married (plenty more ups than downs I'm glad to say!!) and shared honestly with each other as to where we're at with our relationship with God.
There was no agenda, no itinerary, no structure.
We just spent time together.
We were so much closer afterwards.
Because we were more than just functioning in our relationship.
Made me think about my relationship with my church family over the last 18 months. It's become so functional. A lot of that is to do with the fact that our ministry is growing which is brilliant and exciting. But somewhere along the way its become about 'getting the job done'. Organising, having committees, planning events, meeting deadlines etc. However, if it's just functional stuff, the heart of these relationships slowly shrinks.
I was supposed to go for a run down the beach this afternoon. Instead I decided to 'elf' most of the guys from church. If you don't know what I'm on about go to http://www.elfyourself.com/. It's hilarious! Anyway, to create this little christmas video I had to go into all my photos over the last few years from get togethers with my guys from church. As I was looking at the pics I was struck by the tragedy of how little quality time I'd spent with different people recently. In terms of quantity, we spend a lot of time together. But it's all been business.
It's mostly been when we're 'functioning' as church.
I guess like Andrea and I tonight, I need to get back to what the heart of Christian community is all about- real relationships.
Jesus was so good with relationships. Hanging out getting to know good old Zac! Chillin' with Mary and Martha....well Mary. Even when he was a kid he was found by his mum and dad spending time with the teachers in the temple. In fact, I never noticed this before but they lost him for 3 DAYS! This wasn't your 'Can the parents of Jonny please come to the reception desk at Marks and Spencers' kind of lost kid thing! This was three days! It says in Luke 2 that his parents found him in the temple 'seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.' Jesus loved spending time with people. He was so good at investing in relationships.
Jesus is good at investing in relationships.
Which brings me to my last reflection. When did I last invest time in my relationship with God? When was the last time I found a place to rest and just spend time with God? Time in His presence. Time listening. No rushing. No agenda. No shopping list of petitions. Just talking and listening?
I know the whole discussion about how we're always spending time with God when we live for Him but you know what I mean. Quality time- reflecting, praying, meditating, in solitude.
If you're like me, I find this hard. I'm a driven person. I find it hard not to have an agenda with everything in life and that includes relationships, even my relationship with God!
And I also get distracted. Distracted by the burden to do things for God. I have a real concern that my generation loves to seek after justice for our God, transform the broken world for our God, do acts of mercy for our God but has very little discipline in spending time in communion and solitude with our God.
I could do so much for Andrea but I know eventually she would just burst out and say 'I just want to spend some time with you' and vice versa.
I remember taking a retreat day when I was living and working in London. I went to St. Paul's Cathedral for most of it with absolutely no agenda but to commune with God. I prayed simply that morning and told God that the day was His (like He needed reminded!) and that I wanted to spend it with Him, whatever that meant. I'll never forget it- in the midst of one of the world's busiest cities I carried a deep sense of peace throughout the day and a huge awareness of God's presence wherever I went, even as I travelled on the underground during rush hour.
I'd spent quality time with God. I allowed Him to speak to me, minister to me and gave Him space to renew and reform me. Unfortunately these times are unique rather than normal in my life.
Investing in our relationships, sharing, being real, working things out and giving undivided attention to them...they can only flourish.
Simple as that.
This Christmas, I will buy some pressies for friends and family (albeit with a tight post-wedding budget!) but I'm going to make a real commitment to give quality time to my relationships with my wife, family, friends, church and God.
It's the best gift I can give.
Glad I got that off my chest. Am ready for my bed now.