We had our college community day today. I was actually able to speak to some normal people; people who live and breathe outside of the college bubble. Hoorah!
We went to a church in the centre of a council estate, south of Nottingham, who have a small and largely elderly and infirm congregation and we washed windows and rearranged space and painted.
As we arrived, a coffee morning was happening with some of the local people in attendance from the estate and it was stimulating to talk to people about their lives and aspirations and answer questions regarding our presence there.
One man was perturbed by the whole 'becoming a vicar' thing, put it all down to Henry VIII and compared curacy and incumbency to renting a pub before becoming a landlord yourself, which I thought was probably a fairly good analogy.
A woman, about to become a teacher in an adult education college, was interested in the presence of young women in a largely middle-aged male dominated 'industry', as she saw it, and was very positive about the contribution us female, under forty types, might be able to make.
As we cleaned, my friend and I imagined ourselves as the 'Kim and Aggie' of 'How Clean is your church?' and pushed filing cabinets into every conceivable position before deciding that the Feng shui was working so that harmony could reign. We had a ball. We also got to share, as we worked, some of our angst about college life.
We lamented that for a purportedly 'charismatic' college, we sometimes have a tendency to stuff our worship so full of human words about and to God, that we really do not leave enough room for him to speak to us in return. Oh, for a little more waiting and resting in his presence!
We explored what feels like a gulf between interactions inside college walls about Jesus and then how transferable or even, more significantly, relevant to people, such discussions are in the outside world. We both anticipate the messiness of ministry with excitement and the doing rather than the learning how to be, which can get a little wearing. "Do not disturb me, I am learning how to 'be'" - emmm!
So...with God's help, there are about 15 months to go and 6 finished, as we come to the end of the second term. After Easter, we start our main church placements, which will culminate in a month in the job for the whole of September and come to a close in December.
For my family and I this entails a farewell to our sending church, where we have worshipped for 10 years and a move, on mass, to this new church. I have met my supervisor and it is with some trepidation but much openness and expectation of the mighty things that God is going to show me in that place, that I set my eyes on this new community of people exploring Jesus.
It is a large charismatic church on the edge of Derby and it has some thriving and diverse ministries. It has been on my radar for some time and I consider it a real privilege that they are allowing me to muck in there. I expect it will be formative and challenging. It seems to be free of the middle class suburban Christian England worshippers, in attendance because this is what they have always done. It appears to be attended by people who have made that significant decision and expect God to reveal himself in significant ways. I have a feeling it is going to be pretty awesome.