i'm still officially on holidays, but its been a bit quiet.
back from 10 days in melbourne, including a week at our national christian youth convention, aka ncyc, featuring a cast of thousands... (you know who you are...). we went over as a family - the twins at their third ncyc and me leading a bible study - there were nine options.
from what I heard there were about 1100 young people aged 16 to 30 and about 400 adults. an excellent week - good weather, good spirits, some great input. a large proportion of samoan and tongan people gave the event a different, lively and loud flavour - an excellent experience for we monocultural south australians.
the "converge" theme was about radical discipleship with a focus on the gospel of mark. shane claibourne was the 'big name' speaker and was a highlight for many, including my kids who are devouring his books as we speak. they had an outdoor gathering at federation square in the heart of the city. shane spoke and a brilliant jazz quartet, scat, played. we sat up the hill at the japanese restaurant overlooking the proceedings. quite excellent really.
i led three bible studies with the gracious help of duncan macleod, to whom I will have to be dogsbody at some time in the future. I suggested offering a contemplative space, which is not usual for ncyc. the hosts were enthusiastic. unfortunately the room and furnishings were not at all what I had in mind, but we made the best of it (and learnt some things for next time).
each day we used video clips and ambient music, meditation on scripture, readings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer ("The Cost of Discipleship") and David Augsburger (Mennonite, Fuller Seminary - "Dissident Discipleship") and clips from the Bonhoeffer movie. We also had a simply liturgy - a gathering prayer from "The Celtic Wheel of Year", closing with a blessing from John O'Donohue or Ruth Burgess (when we had time...) and St Patrick's "Christ Be With Me".
study #1 was a focus on the call of the disciples from Mark 1 (fisher-people) and Mark 2 (Levi). the centre piece was a blue cloth "lake" with stones around the perimeter. the entrance setting included a water loop from istockphoto, video images of birth, and "stars" by brian eno as soundtrack. the start sequence was some 'in utero' footage from 'the human body' with urban myth club's "so beautiful" and a reading a psalm 139.
the gathering prayer from "the celtic wheel of year" by tess ward. stunning resource. I use it all the time. go buy it.
Lord of all our longing
draw us on our inner pilgrimage.
As the soil of the land is ploughed and sowed,
prepare the ground of my being to do the soul-work.
Prepare my feet to walk the untrodden paths.
Prepare my hands to receive the unexpected.
Prepare my face to withstand whatever the weather.
Prepare my shoulders to offer strength to fellow-traveller.
Prepare my desire to sift my dreams.
Prepare my resolve to shift the shapes that I put in the way.
Prepare my discernment to see what it no longer needed.
Prepare my back to relax as you carry my load.
Walk beside me and lure me deeper into you this day.
“To follow in his steps is something which is void of all content. It gives us no intelligible program for a way of life, no goal or ideal to strive after. It is not a cause which human calculation might deem worthy of our devotion, even the devotion of ourselves. What happens? The disciple simply burns his boats and goes ahead. He (or she) is called out, and has to forsake her old life in order that she may ‘exist’ in the strictest sense of the word. The old life is left behind, and completely surrendered. The disciple is dragged out of his relative insecurity into a life of absolute insecurity.”
we used 'lectio divina' twice to read the text, and in between the two looked at depictions of 'call' from video versions of Matthew and Luke's gospels - the former a verbatim NIV similar to Mark and the great expansion of Luke's call from the Time-Life Jesus movie.I was drawing a lot from ched myers' socio-political analysis in "binding the strong man" during the week.
david augsburger talks about the spirituality of discipleship as follows:
It is about discovering a clear sense of self, a firm link to God, a sensitivity to others.
It is about choosing, not inheriting. It is a personal choice, voluntary, individual.
It is about doing, not high intentions. It is a set of practices for living out faith.
It is about loving, not civility. People matter. All people matter.
It is about linking, not individualism. It is a quest for real community.
It is about serving, not self-care. It is something you offer, concretely, caringly.
It is about being, not having. It is discovering authenticity and simplicity.
It is about risking, not withdrawal. It is constructive, courageous, bold.
It is about reconciling, not coexisting. It is open to healing and growth.
It is about suffering, not injuring. It is resolutely nonviolent and constructive.
(from "Dissident Discipleship")
Augsburger invites us to ask these questions:
Do you believe the story of Jesus?
Do you believe in Jesus?
Do you believe Jesus?
Do you believe what Jesus believed?
The latter two are the interesting ones in terms of discipleship, namely, is the example of Jesus one which you are willing to follow, and is his orientation to God and the world one which you are willig to embrace?
people were invited to take a stone from the lakeside as a reminder of their own call and an invitation to use it later for contemplation of God's call.
the exit piece was a clip I made to the beatles' "blackbird" from the "across the universe" soundtrack (sung by evan rachel wood) with some clips of birds.
more tomorrow .....