Thursday, September 08, 2016

10 months and Not Counting

   Conversations with people about my years of focus on working with young people vs what I'm doing now seem to come in waves and I suppose correspond with finding your self in new networks or social settings. I talk about my role at Morisset Uniting 'Church in the Trees' and I've been reflecting on how enjoyable the last 10 months have been, how a 'fresh start' isn't always great in the mid to longer term but so far this is very much the case. I've been very excited that simple ideas I've grown to value, about how you go about this thing called 'ministry' and the edge of encouraging people in their engagement in God's mission in the world, is for me built on things I've learnt working with young people and in sitting on the edges and observing [something I'm good at]!!
   Being straight with people, listening hard and acknowledging your own limitations while saying "thank you" to those who observe your strengths are building blocks. Working out the simplest ministry tasks that have the biggest value to those who belong to your community is worth the effort. Sticking to what you know intuitively, being willing to speak up about ethos and values, trying really hard to live those out and affirming what you see that's good and of value don't hurt either.
   I identified early that leading Funerals was going to be a learning curve for me, so too is polity and the nitty gritty of our organisational shape, with all the variants of local history. e.g "this is how it's been done" but checking for how long by who and how it was done before that.
   "Are you over the honeymoon period then?" is an interesting question which presupposes a few things, most commonly that people are on best behaviour when you arrive and can wear your difference for a time but eventually true character or annoyance will out. Instead for me it's involved the joy of honest feedback both positive and negative but also seeing others relate as they naturally do and beginning to work with those interrelationships for us all to be better and more true to our values. In other words, no I don't have whinges and complaints to make or I haven't found walls to bang my head on... I've received fair comment and have unearthed ways people need my help. The end of the honeymoon marks the beginning of the real work of ongoing relationship, but not from the default of me having all the problems... I did have a 29 year preparation for this last 10 months...
   I have sat with people in their last days and hours, re-assured someone who felt very uncomfortable that God had inflicted cancer on them when they had "been a good person" while seemingly in the world people do bad things and 'get away with it.' This was a person I'd met then for the first time as I stood in to help out. This lady would have since passed away and was to have a Funeral with only her son present as she had no other family. She was fine with that... it had been much the same for her husband a few years earlier.
   I have sometimes missed that 'extra question' through the usual weariness. The question that unlocks how someone really feels or what's really happening. But we get there somehow, mostly.
   Someone told me they "liked the way I spoke openly about doubt, questions, God and the wrestle to have faith." That person had life experience to challenge any notion of a God and they were saying they found this encouraging.
   I've also worked myself to a standstill getting Weekend OUT ready with a bunch of great people on a very small team. Next year will need to be done differently and it will be...
   How often do you see something horrendous on the TV and wonder, what can I do about that? Imagine being able to give people the bank a/c details for an alternative community 'Meeting Place" that would better enable people to do something positive and practical in the face of the treatment of those victims in the story. So it is with the 'Don Dale Centre' story on TV and the community development at John Flynn Memorial UCA in Alice Springs... but there's still encouragement to be offered for people to actually give!!
   It's September already and it's now time to:
- Mindmap the next missional steps
- Start Taskgroups about "Fix It Festival", "Advent Workshops","3rd Sunday","Life" event and a few other things like fundraising

Lucky I come back to life in spring and gain some new energy... apologies for the jargon filled reflection and obscure details BUT this is me processing, not a media release...

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