Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little blog about silence

Photo by bewinca of sxc.huThings come round again. Like silence. Along with stillness and solitude, silence is a vital ingredient of life in Christian community. (I’d say it’s a vital ingredient to healthy human living of any kind, but that’s quite a claim, so I’ll leave it in parenthesis.)

And silence has been coming up again recently. I keep bumping into it. Is it the influence of The Big Silence, recently screened by the beeb? One of our senior leaders shared about silence at a recent staff meeting; another leader blogged about silence; a young leader told me the other day how his church household spent almost an entire Agape meal in deliberate silence (and some found it transformational).

“When we enter into periods of silence, we start to see things with greater clarity.”

The words of Christopher Jamison, Abbot of Worth Abbey, the monastery featured in The Great Silence. “We come to know ourselves, and come in touch with that deepest part of ourselves. That is our soul.”

Not that it’s all about a mystical version of an hour on the therapist’s couch. “The reality [of silence] is very different,” says Jamison. “We bump into our deepest selves.”

Our community, New Creation Christian Community, is one more marked for its activism than its contemplation, closely tied as it is to the work of the Jesus Army and the Jesus Centres. Our challenge, frankly as much as for the frantic secular society that surrounds us, is to find, make and protect silence and stillness within all that we do and say.

That said, people still say, when they come to our community houses, “Isn’t it peaceful?” (Sometimes the harassed members look at them gone out when they say it – but say it they do.)

I wrote a prayer a couple of years ago and still pray it now:

God, teach us silence, so that our words will not be empty, but carry power. Teach us stillness, so our activity will not be frantic, but fruitful. Teach us solitude, so that we can live in community. Amen.

I believe there are things to explore and dig into here. I believe this could be part of our journey into the future as a community.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Coventry Jesus Centre - a week in the life (part 2)

Check out this homespun and for real account of the place that means so much to me (part 2) -

Coventry Jesus Centre - a week in the life (part 1)

Check out this homespun and 'for real' account of the place that means so much to me (part 1) -

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

EDP in pictures

As promised, some photos from last week's London adventure.

Jesus Army laughterOn the bus: chatting to Andrew (who God told us we'd meet)

Jesus Army street talkSam talks to Joe and Viktoria. He was into Norse religion (probably because she was Scandanavian!)

Jesus Army in tent cityThese guys camped out to see the Harry Potter premier. I asked this bloke if he was a wizard (he sported a fine wizardly beard). He said he wasn't which was mildly disappointing.

Jesus Army busChurch on wheels: the Jesus Army bus

Jesus Army singersWell, I hear them singing in the streets...

Jesus Army gospellingEarnest conversation. It's a matter of (eternal) life and death.

Jesus Army StreetpapersBethan, giving out Jesus Army Streetpapers (and looking rather pentecostal as she does).

Jesus Army funNot that it was all wet, windy streets. The team unwound by, er, pretending to be goats.

Jesus Army friend
This young Latvian man committed his life to Jesus on Friday night. Which is what it's all about really...

(For more of my pictures of this Jesus Army campaign, click here.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eat, drink and pray

I forgot my thermal long johns.

Wouldn’t normally be a problem, but last week I was on the streets of London until the wee small hours, for three nights. November nights are cold and I’d intended to wear that extra layer of insulation. As it was I had to resort to stamping and jogging on the spot from time to time.

Each month, for a three-night stint, a team of about a dozen Jesus Army soldiers take one of the church’s double-decker coaches and stay out late in London’s West End, serving food and drink, talking to people about the gospel, and praying with those who would like us to. We call it EDP - 'eat, drink and pray'.

Jesus Army in action

Arriving on the Wednesday night at about 9 o’clock, a couple of young brothers and I decided to grab the atmosphere with a few songs. One played the guitar, one the bongos; I just gave it full throatle. After we’d sang for a bit (old gospel medleys mainly – ‘I’ve got joy’, ‘I’ve found a new life’) I turned round and saw a grinning face.

One chat later, I knew the person behind the face was that of Peteris from Latvia. He’d come to England a couple of year’s earlier and worked in Milton Keynes for a time. But Peteris’s luck had ran out when he had a forklift accident and lost his job. He’d drifted, ending up on London’s streets only a couple of weeks before I met him. He was grateful for the hot drink and appreciated the friendly company. He also told me how, back in Latvia, he’d been to a Christian meeting and been struck by the warmth and genuineness he’d found there.

The night rolled on. Many chats, many hot drinks. But Peteris stayed on my mind – and sure enough, the next night he was back. We talked again and he introduced me to his friend Georgs, also Latvian; they’d met on the streets.

The last night was an exciting night for the team, as several ‘words of knowledge’ (things people had sensed beforehand would come true that night) had come to fruition. ‘Someone’s gonna meet someone with the same name as team members’ – check, that was Andrew (we had two Andrews on the team). ‘Someone’s gonna be drawn to a draw-er’ – check, Bethan found herself very moved by the story of an old homeless man, only finding out later that he drew pencil drawings (he drew one of her). ‘Portcullis House’ – check, we went there and had a significant encounter with an ex-gangster who knew his need of Jesus (the person who gave us this word didn’t know there was a Portcullis House in London, and certainly didn’t know it was the main office block for the Houses of Parliament!) And so on. It does add a sense of working with God.

Peteris came back that night and we talked more deeply about what it meant to follow Jesus and be a Christian. He drank it all in. ‘Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith?’ (James 2:5)

I was able to pray with him and help him pray his own prayer of commitment.

Frankly, there’s nothing better than that. I would go so far as to say that not even the birth of my own children quite compares with the joy of leading someone to new birth as they believe in Christ.

I put Peteris and his friend Georgs in touch with my friend from the Jesus Army in London. They stayed with them the next night and by all accounts are getting on well.

Being on the front line; serving many; sharing the gospel; I loved it.

Even without my long johns.

(Some names are changed. I'll put up some photos of the EDP tomorrow.)