Youth@Broadmead Update by Jodie Prescott

“There’s no ‘I’ in team”. I wonder how many times you have heard that? Too many I’m sure! We understand that in life we have to get used to the idea of teamwork. Whether it be at work, at church or in our family lives etc. For some, teamwork will be something that comes naturally to them which they love, for others they will not particularly enjoy it but must tolerate it to a certain level. As a church, we act out 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. “For the body is not one member, but many” (verse 12). This is perhaps the simplest and clearest statement about teamwork in the bible. I am so grateful to have people that are brilliant at admin around me, who know how to do the ‘techy’ stuff that I struggle with and who will be patient with me when I am trying to work out the budgeting and costing of youth events! I know that although my gifts do not rest in those areas, others truly excel and that’s why working together allows us to not only survive but thrive.

But what about when it comes to working with other churches? How does that settle with us? When I first started training as a youth worker with the church I remember finding it quite difficult to network and work with other churches and leaders. Not through people being unkind but through people very protective over their own projects/groups/young people. However, in the past few years, this dynamic seems to have changed and there seems an openness for collaborative community work.

Back in November of 2018 as a church, we were invited to be involved in a project called Redeeming Our Communities (ROC), where people of goodwill, representatives from churches, faith organisations, police and local authorities were all called to get together to make positive changes in our community. Frank Green (operations director for ROC) said “God loves the towns and cities of our nation, but he hates the mess they’re in. And in these days, with urban populations hitting record levels, he’s calling the church more loudly and clearly than ever before to co-operate in prayer and action to begin to turn things around for His glory”.

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Since ROC Northants began, I have been meeting regularly with a youth action group with youth leaders and other professionals to discuss and plan ways in which we can support young people of Northampton. We cannot wait to launch our ROC Café here at Broadmead Community Church once we get upstairs. This will be a safe place for young people aged 14-18 to come and relax after school between 3:30-5pm. They will be welcome to use the space to catch up on their schoolwork or they can relax, play some board games and chat with others around them. Jesus was a great believer of meeting people where they’re at and therefore we want to be led by what the young people need rather than decide for them.

In November 2019 I supported the first Youth Summit in Northampton which originated from conversations within the ROC youth action group. This was an event held at the Guildhall and led by young people, for young people across the county. We had over 40 youth providers attend as well as many secondary schools send groups of young people from across the county. The young leaders led interactive workshops focussing on wellbeing and safe spaces and all young people had a question and answer session in the council chamber with a local councillor. There was something extremely powerful about seeing the young people of Northampton sat in the seats of their leaders. I pray that we’re given more opportunities like this for young people to turn things around for His glory.

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We’re so blessed in Broadmead to have our very own young people stepping up into leadership positions. We’re currently training and working with 3 young people who are young leaders in our Storylines group. Storylines is a group for school year 4-6 where we meet to play games, engage with a variety of activities and learn about what God has to say in our day to day lives. We’re super proud of our young leaders who have stepped up to present talks, lead games and discussion groups, and come alongside the children to help them with their activities. We can’t wait to see where God leads them and are excited to see the gifting He’s put on them.

We have now been back at TMX for 5 months and we continue to build relationships with the young people and get to know them better. As I wrote in my last blog, back in October we had an incident involving two different groups outside youth club which impacted our weekly numbers. However, since coming back from Christmas we’re thankful to God that our numbers are increasing again. We have also built positive links with our local Police Community Support Officer’s (PSCO’s) who enjoy visiting TMX to build relationships with the local young people (play a game of table tennis and pool!) As is always with youth club, every week is different but when we look at Jesus’ life we see Christianity in it’s rawest form… it’s messy unpredictable and hands-on. This is why these types are groups are crucial in church.

“When we get to know young people through detached work we soon realise that there is a big difference between our expectations and values and theirs. It often comes down to basic right and wrong. Young people inhabit the same world but may seem on a different planet. Theirs is a different culture, a different language with different norms and values. What is more confusing is that groups of young people can differ from one area of the town to another, from north to south, rural to urban, black to white. The good news for Christians is that we are not called to see young people as a group, but to love them as the unique individuals God created them to be”. (Richard Passmore, Meet them where they’re at).

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-04 at 10.11.28I am grateful that as the youth club continues to gradually grow again, we’re able to get to know the young people more personally and individually. Although on a Thursday night we may all come from different areas, different family dynamics and different cultures, there seems to now be a feeling of ‘togetherness’ and respect. God is so clearly working and I believe it can be felt in the atmosphere of the building when you come in. As leaders we were reflecting that in previous years we have almost had to ‘pick our battles’ with behaviour management, however, since October there seems to be a certain level of peace reigning. We praise God for that.

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Finally, we were privileged to be nominated numerous times at the NAYC Awards dinner last Monday night. I was put forward for the leader for the year, TMX and Broadmead Youth was nominated for church group of the year and Jean and Crawford Lindsay were nominated for Outstanding Contribution to Youth Work for many years of volunteering and working with young people. We’re extremely happy to say that Jean and Crawford were the winners in their category and we’re so thankful for what they do within the church and local community. As a church, we’re enormously blessed with a brilliant team of youth workers and I am sure you will join me in continuing to pray for them and cheer them on.

Prayer points:

  • That we continue to work well for the glory of God together across Northampton with other churches and organisations, specifically focussing on young people.
  • That peace continues to reign at TMX, enabling purposeful relationships to grow.
  • For our young leaders. That they continue to grow in confidence, stretching and challenging themselves, stepping into God’s gifts for them.
  • That young people within the church will truly grasp who Jesus is to them, engaging in a personal relationship with Him.
  • For new team members within different aspects of the youth team- contact me if you’re interested!

 

 

A Mother’s Request

One day James and John’s mum, married to Zebedee (which today still makes me think of the Magic Roundabout) came to Jesus with her two boys with her. Their mother recognises who Jesus is. She kneels before Jesus suggesting she acknowledged his Kingship – his authority – who he was. Jesus asks what he wants and this is where it all goes south.

She asks that her sons sit either side of him in his Kingdom. This was not a good request to make. To sit on the right and the left is to be given the highest ranks possible after Jesus. The one on the right being second in command and the one on the left third in command.

So, she recognised who Jesus was and wanted to make sure after him at number one, it was her two sons next.

How could she do this? Well, we know from other accounts in the gospels that James and John’s mum was Salome and she is the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Auntie Salome is approaching Jesus to speak to him about his cousins. Let’s keep it all in the family is what she is saying. It’s not what you know but who you know, hey Jesus!!!

Jesus replies by addressing the Sons and I wonder why that was. We don’t know whose idea the request was but James and John certainly appear to be going along with it.

Jesus asks them if they realise the high price that would need to be paid to be counted worthy of the position they were seeking. They say, yes, instantly, probably without thinking about what Jesus meant. The brothers were always very bold and that is why Jesus probably nicknamed them the ‘Sons of Thunder’.

Jesus goes on to say, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup’ but who sits where in the Kingdom is not for me to grant. Jesus again showing that it is his Father who he submits to and that any reward is determined by the Father, it can’t be earned.

As the story develops the other ten disciples find out what James and John have been up to. They were not best pleased but Jesus sees this as a teachable moment.

My Kingdom is not like the Roman Empire where power and authority is held over you. No, instead, to become great you must be a servant – to be first, you must be a save. Just like me, who came not to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.

In the world, even in the church, we can all strive for recognition and privilege. We often want to be in control. Jesus says here, that is not the way. Become a slave. This is so challenging to our pride but it is all linked to the call to be humble and meek which we were looking at two Sundays ago.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

The truly great follow Jesus’ example and seek to serve, not to be served. Wow.

Why not meditate on these words from Philippians Ch 2 regarding how we should live. It is a challenge that we can only do if we are breathing in the Holy Spirit each and every day.

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favour: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honour of God the Father.

 

Becoming Who God Created Us To Be

One of the biggest selling books of last year was ‘the boy the mole the fox and the horse’ written and illustrated by Charlie Maskesy. His work has Kingdom all over it and a few of his works capture these Kingdom moves. Here are a few.

You can find more here. https://www.charliemackesy.com/

I think the book captures meekness and the need to know ourselves so wonderfully.

Last Sunday I used a few quotes around the subject of self-knowledge from Christian Theologians. Here are two more Christian thinkers on this matter.

Sooner or later we must distinguish between what we are not and what we are. We must accept the fact that we are not what we would like to be. We must cast off the false, exterior self like the cheap garment that it is…… we must find our real self, in all its elemental poverty, but also in its great and very simple dignity: created to be the child of God, and capable of loving with something of God’s own sincerity and his unselfishness. Thomas Merton – Theologian, poet and monk

The original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather. Frederick Buechner – American writer and minister

I do hope that you will embrace the idea of finding out more about the person that God created you to be.

I also talked about the difference between Pilot washing his hands and Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. One took no responsibility and the other took responsibility for something that wasn’t his. When it comes to how we bump into each other – it is our responsibility. Response-ability. It is our ability to manage how we respond.

So, it begs the question, how can we crack this code. What enabled Jesus in that moment to wash their feet? I think we get a clue. It says Jesus knew that the Father put all things under his power. In other words, He knew his identity as the Son of God, and He knew his authority as such. And then it says that He had come from God and He was returning to God.

So, He knew his history, where He had come from, and He knew his destiny, where He was headed.

Now when you add those four things up, identity, authority, history and destiny, guess what? You’ve got someone who knows who they are, and I think in our case knows who they are in Christ and it frees you up to do is operate in meekness because you are not out to impress anybody. You are out to please your heavenly Father.

Have you heard about Kingdom moves? What I mean by this is there are certain moves we can make which create great responses. Apologizing is a Kingdom move. Only the hardest of hearts will fail to forgive a person who admits they were wrong. Asking for help is a Kingdom move. Few people would refuse your sincere plea for help. I think meekness is putting others first, putting honour where honour is due. Humility is knowing yourself and how you can avoid causing damage to others and that is another Kingdom move.

Meekness will radically change the way you relate to people and the way people relate to you.

Go on try it, discover more of yourself and who God created you to be.

Children’s Ministry – Guest Blogger

The celebration of Christmas is a celebration of light entering darkness.  The light taking the form of a child.  Regardless of views of Halloween, the months between October and December are months of transition, visibly seen as houses are adorned in darkness and transition to the sparkling light.  I enjoy the, almost prophetic, transition. I loved that during October we were able to hold a Light Party to acknowledge Jesus entering dark spaces. The children literally, lit up the night with sparklers. This theme carried on into Christmas as from the perspective of a child, God became like ‘us’. The us being referred to is not a mature, wise adult but to a child; a five-year-old can say ‘God became like me’.

When children encounter darkness or adverse experience, often ‘resilience factors’ are discussed concerning children. Like an elastic band, resilience allows us to overcome difficult circumstances. Those difficult circumstances can take the shape of bullying, family breakdown and loss to name a few. Yet, there is no greater resilience factor than hope. Hope creates creativity in times of darkness.  I wonder whether we can often forget just how powerfully creative children can be? An article from Lana Vasquez helps me illustrate the point.  She writes;

‘I was on the war zone border of Thailand and Burma around Christmas. I had brought a big tub of dolls, trucks, sweaters and cookies.  We went to bed for the night, all of a sudden, I heard little voices outside our window, they were singing.  They sounded so beautiful.  And we were like who is singing at this hour? It’s freezing cold outside. We are in the mountains; we are in a war zone.  We went outside and saw these little kids in raggedy clothes.  I couldn’t tell what they were singing because it was in their hill-tribe language, so I asked my interpreter, and she said, ‘these are war zone orphans, but they believe in Jesus and so there are singing’.

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Children can be vulnerable, but the voice of a child can also be incredibly powerful. The experience leads Vasquez to conclude that ‘children are God’s secret weapon’. As we move on into 2020 my verse for the year is ‘out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger’ (Psalm 8:2). Jesus referred to this Psalm in Mathew 21:16 when the children and young people seemed to praise Jesus, recognising something in Him to which the wise, old religious leaders were blinded. The praise of children and young people can be powerful, and God can give revelation and insight even to the very youngest.  We can learn from them if our hearts are humble enough to listen; we literally must stoop lower to hear.

Dr. Krish Kandiah stooped lower during a time where he was wrestling with faith. He writes;

‘The game-changer for me was that in the middle of the lowest point in my life our family became foster parents…As I nourished and nurtured her, she brought me back to life…I never did rediscover my relationship with God. I say that because I encountered a whole new relationship with him.  The developing relationship to my adoptive daughter opened my eyes to the truth that God was my adoptive father, and that I was His adoptive child’.

As we stoop lower, we have an opportunity to hear God speak in such a way we are utterly transformed.

Last week at the 4p.m. service, we have started to trial bringing more interactivity and creativity into the services.  There was an opportunity to share with one another, hear stories and experiences of people encountering the Holy Spirit as well as engaging in creative prayer stations. There was one moment where the children had gathered over one prayer station and there was an eruption of laughter.  It wasn’t irreverent, it was a joy.  There are times were sobriety is essential, but we have a God who created a sense of humour and a great gift of the Holy Spirit is joy. Can we believe that joy and fun when connected with the heart of God is worship? Joy is powerful and children can have it in bucket loads! It becomes infectious! I learnt at Storylines from observing the children’s behaviour as they worked in teams to complete athletic challenges.  We tried to tempt them away from their goal by using cake or the things we knew they would enjoy much more than remaining in a three-minute plank position.  Once they had clocked on to our intention, I was flawed by how much they were willing to protect each other and ‘avoid’ temptation – even brothers and sisters looked out for each other! They shouted, they screamed, they offered

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Please pray:

For regular attendee’s to Coffee Morning and for new people who come.  That we would have continued opportunities to share and pray for people

For Samuels children

For Storylines as we love new leaders to join us as we play games and teach an overview of the Bible encouragement to help the person endure the challenge. One child even tried to physically block me so that I couldn’t interfere with his teammate.  They were brilliant! I had a clear picture of how, as a church family, we are to protect and defend one another.

 

God and Science

I am in no way a scientist. I struggled to get a CSE in physics at school but I do love to have my mind blown by science and the amazing world we live in and that God created. So last Sunday I really enjoyed talking about quantum theory for the first time ever in my sermon.

However, it did get me thinking, Christians have a funny relationship to science. At a  scientific conference at City College of New York, a student in the audience rose to ask the panellists an unexpected question: “Can you be a good scientist and believe in God?”

Reaction from one of the panellists, all Nobel laureates, was quick and sharp. “No!” declared Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals.

Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Hauptman declared, “this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race.”

Some scientists say simply that science and religion are two separate realms, “nonoverlapping magisteria,” as the late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould put it in his book “Rocks of Ages” (Ballantine, 1999). In Dr. Gould’s view, science speaks with authority in the realm of “what the universe is made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory)” and religion holds sway over “questions of ultimate meaning and moral value.”

But does it have to be either faith or religion? Does God need to go up against Science? Often you see a talk advertised at a church, ‘God vs Science” as if it has to be one or the other. But what if science was pointing us towards God all the time and we were missing it. What if God is in all things in all ways.

I came across this excellent article about how the cosmos is pointing towards the Creator and you can read it here.

Or you can watch the conversation the article was based on and enjoyed having your mind blown some more and maybe embrace science rather than seeing it as the enemy.

 

Put Your Hand In The Hand of God in 2020

This year our theme is ‘Trusting in His Love’ and throughout the year we will be considering what is it really like to trust fully in God’s love for us. In all areas of our life. As you enter this new decade you may feel you are fully trusting God or maybe not. However, you feel can I remind you of this verse from the Beatitudes.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. Matthew 5:3 (MSG)

I will pick up more of that on Sunday. But for now, let me take you back some 90 years to Christmas Day 1939; King George VI spoke to the nation. Ahead of his closing lines, in which he paid tribute to the fighting services of Britain and its allies, he spoke of the uncertainty of the year ahead. He concluded his speech with lines from a poem:

“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shalt be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.'”

Response to the broadcast was extraordinary; thousands immediately contacted the BBC to ask the authorship of the lines, while newspapers were also keen to find out. But no one, including Buckingham Palace, seemed to know…

On Boxing Day, the BBC said that the author had not been traced. Later, a man telephoned the BBC to say he had permission from his sister to reveal that she was the author. Then, on its midnight news bulletin, the BBC stated that the search for writer had found a Miss Minnie Louise Haskins of Crowborough, who had written her now renowned lines some years earlier as an introduction to some verses called ‘God Knows’.

Early next morning, snow descended on Crowborough, along with the world’s press – who gathered outside a house called Brooklands in Ghyll Road. Miss Haskins turned out to be a 64-year-old retired university lecturer who lived with two younger sisters in the house – which they ran as a school for young children.

Wishing you all well as you stand at the ‘Gate of the Year’.

You can listen to King George VI’s original broadcast here.

You can also read more about how our queen introduced the poem to her dad and also read the full poem. Please click here.

I have also been struck again by this song which I think will become an anthem for us this year as a church.

Thank you to Karen Eakins for the inspiration for this blog.

 

I’m Not Dreaming Of A Whitewashed Christmas

I came across this image last week and if I am honest it has not left me since. Jesus and his parents were refugees. If they had to escape today then this is how it could have ended up for them on arriving in the USA instead of Egypt. Now, putting aside the terrible way that we often treat refugees, as if at times their lives are not worth as much as ours, it got me thinking about the birth of Jesus.

The problem with the Nativity Story is that we have became too familiar with it. It has been so caught up in all the tinsel and lights. Add into that, all the children who play the parts each year with such cute, smiley faces, as they try to remember the all important lines. We have cleaned up the birth of Jesus and we forget that it is a miracle that Jesus was born let alone made it to his first birthday.

The reality of the story is full of death, danger and narrow escapes.

  • Firstly, consider that most teenager pregnant, unmarried mothers, would have been stoned in those days. Mary and her unborn baby lives could have been over even before the story had really began before. More on that this Sunday at our Carols by Candlelight when we will be consider that, ‘There Is Something About Mary’
  • Then there is the journey to Bethlehem. 90 miles over very hilly ground all done near the due date. 30 degrees in the day and heavy rains at night. Throw in the danger of bears, lions and bandits. How did they even make it to Bethlehem?
  • Then there is the giving birth in a cave where the animals were housed. Dirty and smelly – forget the picture of camels, chickens, pheasants and peacocks looking on. This would have been attached to the Inn where the donkeys were kept. Not the best place to give birth.
  • Mary and baby Jesus survive childbirth and after a few visitors have to escape to Egypt because King Herod has engaged in a Massacre of the Innocent. All male babies under two years must be killed.

So, Jesus and his parents become refugees. Which is in keeping with the whole story of danger and death.

It is amazing to think that this was how the Son of God was to enter into humanity – Emmanuel – God with us. I am not sure it is the way I would have down it. But we know that God’s ways are to always our ways.

The Jesus birth story is one of human terror and divine mercy, of human abuse and divine love. It is a story that claims God became human in the form of one who is vulnerable, poor and displaced in order to unveil the injustice of tyrannical power.

So don’t just whitewash the nativity scene because you might miss the radical message of the Christmas story and the risk God was willing to take to rescue each one of us. Celebrate that this Christmas rather than getting caught up in all the trimming around it.