Max invited me to come and speak at a youth event at his Church up on the hill in Crookhorn. Clearly a subsitute Halloween couple of events.
Their event was called “Purespace”, and was for their (I would guess) year 6+ youth group and others. Many of them were around year 9+.
I arrived early to catch the end of their event for younger ones. It had a Star Wars theme and was like a holiday club. Really impressive: lots of leaders, lots of commitment, lots of fun. I have the holiday club thing lurking in the back of my head. I think we ought to offer something for the younger ones in the parish when I chuck all my energy into year 6+. Must keep praying on that one.
The youth event was cool. They had a good worship band: musically very competant, but a little shy. The MC, Sandra, said that they were shy as she introduced them, but they should be encouraged by this to project personality and let that vibrancy which they clearly had when I chatted to them personally shine through. This does not mean that they should try and become bigger than the worship they lead, but leading worship needs presence and confidence – think Paul at the Aeropagus to carry it off.
The band were indie in style, but the kids had settled back; so I wondered how to bring them to my attention. As a stranger, I was clearly going to be a curiosity, so from nowhere comes this whacky, off the wall idea – Moshing as a symbol of unity!
(If you don’t know what Moshing is – its the tight packed jumping up and down at the front of a concert: rowdy, lively and I suspected, right where these kids were at.)
“I heard that Crookhorn was the moshing centre of the universe, and the best moshers , but I havn’t seen any”.
I got everyone at the front, packed them in really tight and we started to bounce. I even forced the adults to join in and soon we are all arms in the air moshing in the silence. They sat were they were and I started, using this cool wireless slide controller to run my slides.
Using the Wedding at Cana as an example, I suggested that Jesus never hung out at the back (with his pint), but would have been down the front moshing with the disciples. Jesus scandalised the authorities and was not about prohibition, but rather “I came that you may have life, life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). I am fundamentally about a Gospel that releases us rather than restricts, that transforms rather than putting us in a box of righteousness.
I knew this would be an okay message for this Church as I had a really good conversation with thir new vicar when I arrived. Although clearly of a very different spirituality to myself, we got on really well, and after 10 or 15 minutes, the word “inclusive” came up to our mutual satisfaction: here was not a narrow prejudicial church, but a deeply evangelical, bible-based church with which I could be comfortable being myself. I really liked him. More power to his elbow.
Speaking about the call of God to all of us, about the call of God to the Saints (and reclaiming Halloween as the eve of All Hallows, All Saints) and how it usually isn’t like the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where God appears out of a cloud.
“You are already Saints” (cf Ephesians 1:1), I said “because you believe in the promises of Christ”
Go and respond to that call. The young people were attentive (praise the Lord) and the Holy Spirit must have been with us, as I wouldn’t have been able to connect like that without her.
Moved into a time of prayer, got the band up to extemporise, but they started the next song, so I cut into them after the first verse, and as they continued playing (after my encouragement) we prayed over the music, offered ministry time (but clearly I was not as good as I could be, as there were no takers) and then on with the rest of the event.
For the second time in 2006, I have preached at a youth event in a style that was both deeply of me, but also far outside my tradition. My ministry seems at times to transcend all kinds of labels. Let it be so.
Came away tired but enthused. God be praised.
…and to top it all off, the church sent me one of those wireless gizmos this morning as a gift so I can play with the toy at St Thomas’! God be praised!