If you’re still looking forward to getting away on holiday, then you might want to close your ears to this… but it is starting to feel like the holidays are drawing to a close. Our girls have their new school bags and school clothes, and plans are well underway for welcoming people to Oxford in the early autumn. (Thanks for everyone in our ‘Welcome’ and ‘Student’ missional communities for your hard work!)
Last Thursday night, I got a phone call saying that the Department for Education would send emails to all free school applicants at 9.30am the following day (Fri 13) to say whether or not we had been invited to move forward on implementing our proposals. And, the successful applicants only would also receive a phone call before 9.30am.
So, I found it a little difficult to sleep on Thursday night, and found things with which to busy myself on Friday morning, before the phone rang at 9.15am – with the good news that we are going ahead with the vision for Tyndale Community School!
People sometimes ask me, as a pastor, what I actually do with my time. I remember that John Stott, an Anglican vicar, was once accused by a Welshman on a train of being a “parasite on the body politic” because he obviously did not do any ‘proper’ work, and I suspect that’s how it looks to lots of people, who only see their pastor on Sundays.
As a church, we once used to talk about ‘infecting students’, which probably caused considerable concern for the parents of the students that we knew!
The idea comes from the parable of the yeast, which speaks about the kingdom of God getting into everything, just as yeast spreads through a whole batch of dough. Instead of the Christian faith being an occasional and superficial dalliance, Jesus spoke about putting his word and his life into us, which would work their way through every aspect of our being and doing, and would then overflow from us to others.
In the last few months, I’ve heard people talk a lot about ‘kairos moments’, and so decided to have a little think about what that means.
It is one of two Greek words for ‘time’, the other being chronos. Chronos is time in the simple sense of time passing, and the New Testament uses it to talk about something taking a long time (John 5:6, Acts 14:3, Heb 4:7) or a short time (John 7:33, Rev 20:3).
Kairos refers to time that has some special significance. It is not just ‘a time’, but a time for or of something, such as:
I’m writing this on the M20, on the way home from France. We’ve been away for 10 days, visiting family in the Alps (lots of cheese, galette des rois, snow and sledging) and the Bilsons in Paris (more cheese, more galette, views of the Eiffel Tower and discovering Play-Mobil Funland). It’s been good to go away, but it’s nice now to be heading home.
We’re just getting to the end of our Sunday mini-series on ‘Discipleship’, i.e. on what it means to follow and imitate Christ. One of the things that we looked at together was how discipleship fits with mission. For many years now, churches have tended to talk about mission and evangelism as things that you do with people who are not Christians, to help them to understand and embrace the Christian faith; whereas discipleship is what you do with Christians to help them grow.
Term is now underway in both universities and it’s great to see students back in the city. I was told recently that 25% of the city’s whole population move on every year, and we really do feel that through the summer, which is the season when most people move on.
So, now that autumn has arrived, we are looking forward to the fun of making new friends. I was especially delighted about how well our ‘Welcome Café’ on Sunday, with about 20 people asking how they can connect better to the church community. Well done to everyone involved (and thanks for the fresh coffee afterwards)!
For some years, one strand in my life has been studying for a theology degree with LST. I’ve looked at all sorts of interesting things and people tell me that it has improved my teaching and leading no end!
I’ve just been reflecting on the way in which we talk so much these days about “being on a journey” through our lives. It’s a great way of highlighting that we always have more to learn and must remain open to God doing surprising new things with us. And yet, the New Testament also talks about the virtue of us reaching a settled state in this life, which it calls ‘maturity’. For example:
The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:3-4)