Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Apprentices On The Road - Spring Harvest

Most of what I seem to get involved in is pretty well out there on the fringes when it comes to church related activity. Spring Harvest however is an exception, having been involved in numerous capacities since it's very early days in the late 70's. For those not in the know, SH is an annual multi week church based conference style family event spanning many denominations and attracts around 45,000 people in total each Easter. It's accommodated at Butlin's sites in Minehead and Skegness. There's bits of it that make me cringe and frustrate me, but I can't deny that certainly as a younger person there were some key moments for me in my Christian journey that Spring Harvest helped shape and it continues to encourage many in their faith and I am pleased to have the opportunity to be involved.

Over the years having been on the youth team as a speaker, detached youth worker, musician and in more recent years the pastoral team. In this role I have been running 'Just Looking' groups, specifically for those who attend SH who question much of what they see and want a safe space to ask questions and discuss life, faith and whatever else comes up. In practice this means over the course of the week about twenty folks come along and enjoy honest and open discussion not too disimilar to our Zac's tribal gatherings on a tuesday eve - but without the chaos!

In the wider programme the theme was 'Apprentice - walking the way of Christ' - the logo for which was a pair of old boots. As the week went on my own boots gradually desintegrated - if only replicating the way of Christ was as straightforward as that!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Is This A Road I Have To Go Down?

To continue the Holy Week theme,I couldn't resist putting in the following clip from local fella, Steve Balsamo singing 'Gethsemane'. Captures the the moment fantastically...

Performance of this show-stopping song at Ahoy, Holland in June 2004 by Steve Balsamo, who starred in the London West End Revival production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1996/97 at The Lyceum, and tours and records with The Storys currently.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hero To Villain? - Palm Sunday Reflection

Today is what in the Church Calendar is called 'Palm Sunday' - celebrated a week before Easter. Traditionally it's the day when we reflect on Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem amid the welcoming enthusiasm of the crowds that had caught on to Lazarus' raising among other things.

This scenario and the following Easter week is full of contrasts - betrayal and trust, love and hate, denial and faith, justice and coercion, mercy and brutality. I can't help thinking of the bizarre turnaround from the outpouring of emotion of the 'Palm Sunday' moment to the same crowd calling for His execution one week later. Sure they wanted a deliverer, but Jesus didn't fit the mould for their kind of warrior saviour. The crowd wavered in it's support and opinion over these days, but the message and actions of Christ remained constant as indeed it still does - amid our often wavering still.

The full horror and delicate beauty of the Easter week is not contained in a sanitized pic and mix saviour to make us feel good for five minutes to suit our wants, but in the stark reality of a sacrificial ragamuffin saviour bringing hope to a weary and wounded world. How we see the Christ of Easter and how we see the people around him at that time, will have a huge bearing on how we may or may not choose to follow Him. Me, I'll hang on to the hope that while everything around Christ was shifting he stayed true to what needed to be done and for that I am eternally grateful.

The Palm Sunday story is contained in Chapter 12 of John's Gospel which can be found here