exciting but sad

The rest of my day in London had various highlights:

Meeting up with Richard for my last line management meeting. That was quite a sad experience but an advantage of leaving is that you get bought presents – and I am now a proud owner of Common Worship: Ties and Seasons, which I would not have bought but will be massively useful to me.

Following that I shot over to Flat White to meet up with father Jeremy – looking cool decked out in his priestly gear.

I then ended the day by meeting up with the YFC Leadership Team for a leaving meal near Cheapside. Saying good bye to each one of them at the end of the evening was an odd experience and not a particularly nice one. These people have been friends, encouragers and challengers throughout my time with YFC (some 14/15 years). It is sad knowing this kind of great relationship, in this format, is changing. During the train journey home it hit home that my time with YFC is at an end and while that is exciting it is also sad.

On rational days I can see God’s leading clearly in all of this. On sensitive days I have real concerns over whether, at 43, I have the energy to start something new and ‘from scratch’ all over again. I guess only time will tell!

Anyway – all at YFC … thanks for your massive contribution for forming who I am!

I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I know what I mean!

YFC opportunities


There are 2 new and exciting posts on the Leadership Team of YFC.
I have posted details of Director of Communications and Director of Service centre here.
Please have a look, apply or pass them on to people that you think would be good in either of these roles.

YFC opportunities

We, YFC, still have a few opportunities for next years teams:

We are especially looking for people in our Sports teams
Locdown needs more DJ’s
Inside OUT/Crux Theatre needs some male actors.
ETA has vacancies for young people ready to support the great work our centres are engaged in.
We could do with 2 more to join Crux Media (film) for what is expected to be a great year for them.

If you are interested or think you know someone that this opportunity would be great for please contact Joan Thompson at YFC head office who will send out information and ensure the right person follows up the enquiry … or you can apply here.

Focus … where?

Friday was one of those hectic but wonderful days that I love. It was a day when I was at risk of becoming overawed by the many activities happening or exhausted by the amount of time taken.

The day started with my last tutorial with my personal tutor where we put together my final report to the bishop. That went well.

After a brief stop at home to make a couple of phone calls I met up with a good friend, Terry, and we went to pay a brief 30 minute visit to the head teacher of the school that I am a governor at. We spoke about plans and the role of church youth worker / school chaplain which will work in this school.

Following that Terry and I went to our favourite curry house for lunch. We had a great time catching up with each other. I value such times of honesty where no pretending has to go on. This was a special time.

Following this I popped in the car and drove to Portsmouth to meet Dave, Joe and Roy at 5.00pm to have a meal and chat before the relaunch of Solent YFC and the commissioning of Dave as director. It was a real pleasure to lead the local church of Portsmouth in some commissioning words and Roy preached well and passionately as he always does.

I got home at midnight and needed nearly 2 hours to ‘come down’ from the buzz of the day before I could go to bed.

Today I have been challenged to keep hold of the love of Jesus in my ministry and not lose sight of that. The losing of that focus often results in bitterness or a persecution complex where it is easy to blame everyone else when things do not go to plan. I have thought a lot about this on my car journey back from Portsmouth.

I guess we all know people like that – those who complain in ministry and never seem to be happy. Being with such people can be a drain. I remember when in Bristol as a church youth worker a group of us used to meet regularly in the town for coffee. I remember a certain time when a couple of people were moaning about the presures of their ministry and as we neared the end of our time an old man on a nearby table wandered over and asked a simple question that stumped us all ‘tell me … do you enjoy your calling?’

It’s easy to fall into that. As I say above we all know people like it (maybe we can name a few, but as I do I wonder how many people have me on their list?). I don’t think it is because they have lost faith, nor do I think they have even lost their original passion for their calling.

They have simply lost the sense of privilege that it is to work for God.

byes

Yesterday I said a lot of goodbyes to many friends of YFC at the full team meeting (FTM). The full team is the national team of YFC and we get together each term for training, prayer and worship. The last FTM of each academic year is followed by a BBQ and this ear we cooked this pig in the photo!

After 4 years in this role this was my last FTM and it is odd as well to think I only have one more trip planned to visit head office – and that will be sometime in August when I go to return things like phone, laptop and all the other bits of equipment I have which belong to YFC.

It’s not so much the equipment I’ll miss though – it will be the people.
Goodbyes are never easy and I love being part of this team.
Thanks guys – its been a real pleasure working with you all, and I’m sure and hope that our paths will cross again sometime in the future ….
we will meet again …
our stories are not over …
unlike this pigs (picture courtesy of Richard!)!

exploRE is the latest resource from YFC’s schools department – a 12-week programme of study to be used with students aged 11 to 14 within their RE lessons. It has been produced collaboratively with Youth Alpha to give young people a chance to explore some of the big questions of life within the classroom: questions such as does God exist? What does faith mean? Why is there suffering?

Its easy-to-use lesson plans make this an ideal resource for teachers, youth workers and church workers looking to engage with their local school … find out more here

Friends and travelling

It’s been great to spend the evening with friends tonight. A massive bonus of being in YFC is the quality of friendships I have developed over the years.

Tonight I am staying with Paul and Nia in Cheltenham and its simply great being with people who have a wonderful gift of hospitality. It’s so easy to feel comfortable here and I appreciate that.

It was also great to pop out tonight, meet the new chair of Cheltenham YFC and grab the end of the football – I was a neutral but felt immensely sad for John Terry – sometimes it is a cruel game …. as many Gillingham fans will agree

Tomorrow I’m off to Taunton to meet up with Lucy and do some training with the Taunton YFC trustees … don’t think they have internet that far south!

Friday I’m off to Bath YFC before traveling to the Teenbridge Project near Torquay.

Quite a few miles still ahead of me!

Last time I looked I was 14!!!

We had a great retreat and I think it may even have been one of the best ones we have done. I’ll definitely be using the theme of trees again in the future with another group of people as the sessions seem to be very powerful for people and the metaphors of roots, trunk, branches and fruit were helpful for allowing people to rediscover where they were with God, and allow God to rediscover them.

The feelings were mixed as this will be my last retreat with YFC people. Those of you who pop in here … thanks loads for the way you co-operated over the last few days as without that the retreat could have crashed and burned in so many ways.

Out of all the sessions, for me one of the most enjoyable was the communion on the last morning put together by Phil to consider our fruits of the Spirit and shown in the photo. On either side of the bread and wine we set up nine fruits to symbolise the fruits of the spirit. The idea was that people took and ate the fruits that they specifically wanted God to develop more of in them as well as offer fruits to others along similar lines based on prayer times and conversations had during the retreat. This was a unique mix of a powerful time with a lot of humour and laughter.

Personally I was struck by two comments made by particular people on the retreat. One was ‘I know God loves me … but how does God know that I love him?’ That was an amazing question and one that I really thought on for the rest of the day. As I considered my life I came to the conclusion that there was not a lot to show that love I have, and quite a lot, actually, that could give the impression that my love was minimal.

I could argue it shows through the job and tasks that I do, but actually I get paid for them – so where are my gifts to God, those extra things I do, or say or think that show my God that I love him?

Another comment came form another great person on the retreat who was relfecting on her journey. The comment went something like ‘how did i get where I am today – the last time I looked i was 14 … now I’m 24 and directing a YFC centre!’

As soon as those words appeared I could relate 100%. As I look back, it does actually quite shock me to see where I am, where I have come from and where I seem to be being called to. I look back and I see nothing but sheer privilege there has been to srve God and others. As I looked back God seemed to be reminding me of how he had supported me in the past through seemingly impossible circumstances. Through that God seemed to be saying ‘remain faithful, I will be supporting you on this next stage even if it does seem pretty hairy!’

The retreat ws a great time away. It enabled me to regain a little bit of perspective and every conversation I had I felt privilege to be a part of.

You can see the other retreat photos on my Flickr here.

Adrift

I’m off on retreat early in the morning (5.15am!) so won’t be blogging for a while. (I didn’t blog early in the morning – I’m making use of the new blogger scheduling tool which is pretty cool!)

I’m looking forward to some time to contemplate as life has been mega busy recently with family, work and study. It’s easy to lose the focus and to feel adrift in such circumstances.

I guess that pretty much sums up how I am feeling at the moment – a little adrift and just floating in a calm summer sea merrily going where the lapping waves take me and not really having a lot to do with the direction I am taking. That’s sometimes a god place to be, and I wish to be there in September – bu for now I need to be a little more disciplined so that targets are met and things are achieved.

These next few days I will pretty much be having a technology fast and making an attempt on re-centring around the stuff that matters.

During the retreat we are going to be taking the theme of trees and looking at how the tree grows, how it is shaped, how it is identified, how it bears fruit … and so on and looking at the parallels between this and our spiritual lives.

Please pray for the YFC staff there – and see you in a few days time!

Trunk retreat

I’ve spent most of today planning parts of a retreat for YFC staff in a couple of weeks in Nympsfield which has become one of my favourite ‘thin places’ in the country. The calmness of this place which is rooted in the contemplative life of the nuns that we stay with is quite unique and I’m really looking forward to returning for what I guess may well be my last visit.

I have not very far planning my bits of the retreat so I guess I need some time out to contemplate a little more what I am trying to plan. Throughout the retreat we are looking at the tree as a symbol of our lives with roots, branches etc. My main session is concentrating on the trunk and what that could be imagery for.

The trunk clearly transports the good stuff from the roots to the leaves and I’ve been doing a bit of thinking on how this might apply to me. The trunk seems to have a key role in sustaining life and I found myself wondering what sustains me spiritually. It’s easy to say prayer and daily office, maybe even Eucharist, but do they sustain me, and how can I be sure they sustain me and, more importantly is there any evidence of how they sustain me.

It strikes me as well that the trunk hides some secrets both good and made – the rings of life as the tree grows annually, but also scars of past hurts or disease are hidden behind the trunk. The trunk itself can bare scars or etchings from other people.

It looks like there is a lot going on in the trunk, much of it unseen and un-noticed. If, however, the trunk stopped doing its role and failed to transport food, nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves we would soon see something was wrong. I guess this can be like the Christian life … or maybe the hard truth is we are more able than trees to fake how we know we should be looking or sounding!?

It will be interesting to see where I go with this session, and where people go with it on retreat … just need to find an appropriate Bible passage now! Any ideas gratefully received!