Sunday, April 28, 2013

Exploring Christian Faith

Highbury ... a place to
share Christian friendship
explore Christian faith and
enter into Christian mission
with Christ at the centre
and open to all

On our Gift Day and during a Day of Prayer we have had a Parade Service with our Brownies, Guides, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and thinking about the vision at the heart of our church life.

Beginning with a response reading from the start of Psalm 136 and a clip from In Shadow of the Moon we celebrated the wonder of God in the wonder of his creation.

Then  Carolyn, our Children's Worker helped us to reflect on what it means to be a place where we explore Christian faith.

We then finished with another clip of interviews with those who first landed on the moon in which they spoke of the impact their exploration had made on them and their sense of a Creator God and: we walked on the moon for three days, said one, my walk with God is forever.  We then finished with extracts from John's Gospel focusing on Christ as the Word of God and as the truth that sets us free.

·        We’ve been revisiting our church mission statement in our services. There are 3 parts to it. Last week we looked at SHARING CHRISTIAN FRIENDSHIP. Today we move onto EXPLORING CHRISTIAN FAITH.
·        It’s no accident that we chose the word EXPLORE in this statement. We didn’t say LEARN Christian faith, RECITE the facts of the Christian faith, TAKE FOR GRANTED Christian faith, HOPE EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS Christian faith!
·        No, it’s a deliberate choice of words.
·        If you think of the word EXPLORER, maybe it conjures up a picture of someone with a hat, boots, a rucksack full of essential items…. (picture on screen and real rucksack full of items to show.)
·        EXPLORING makes me think of adventures, unknown territory, finding out for myself, asking questions and trying to find answers solutions.
·        EXPLORING is ongoing, not something that gets finished. We learn things on the way but our maps and solutions will be adapted and adjusted as we go.
·        As a teacher myself, I follow with interest the waves of the theories of learning. Many of you will be familiar with Dickens and his characters in ‘Hard Times’. Mr Gradgrind, the head teacher, ‘believes that all knowledge worth having must have a practical value, and to this end he trusts only in the rational intellect. Matters of the heart do not affect him; he dismisses imagination and entertainment as worthless, with no place in a child's education.’
·        Dickens thought that the schools in England were doing a poor job of educating the whole child. He complained that there was too much emphasis on cramming the children full of facts and figures.
Famously, he worried that if we look upon children simply as empty vessels waiting to be filled up with information, the results are going to be disappointing.
(Does this remind you of anyone?!)
The disastrous effect of such an educational system can be seen in the character of a little girl, Louisa. He describes her as having, " a light with nothing to rest upon, a fire with nothing to burn, a starved imagination keeping a life in itself somehow."
·        I read a letter from Michael Rosen, a children’s poet, to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. Michael Rosen is passionate about immersing children in poetry in his creative workshops and sees marvellous results as they respond by joining in with his poetry and writing their own poems. He fears that learning by heart a few classics is not as inspiring or indeed challenging!
·        He also challenges us to observe how a baby learns, for example, about a ball. The baby touches, pats, rolls, licks, falls over the ball and in doing so absorbs many facts about balls and the way they behave!
·        Children are great EXPLORERS and to prove a point, I’m sure they will astound us in this activity. Around the church are various EXPLORATION STATIONS. You may choose where you go and the task is to EXPLORE. Adults may of course join in.

(Around the front of the church have bundles of sheets, chairs, pegs, hoops etc. On a few tables; some junk modelling, Duplo, playdough, other toys to explore maybe)

Give the children a chance to explore and build….

·        Comment on how they approached the activity. Interview some?
(Draw out that they will have looked at, handled the items, talked, asked questions, planned, experimented, improved plans, learned, achieved satisfaction, shared the results with others….)

·        I have discovered that there is an EXPLORE Activity badge in scouting.
The 4 elements are really interesting.

1.     Decide what or where to explore
2.     Think about what you expect to find
3.     Go on the exploration
4.     Tell others in the colony what you have discovered

(It says in the notes; All explorations should be undertaken under the supervision of a responsible adult!)

·        The suggested areas for exploration are the seashore, a forest or park, a woodland or a town. All very exciting.
·        We believe that exploring Christian faith is exciting too. Indeed, what could be more exciting than the idea that a loving God who created the universe has an interest in your life, is longing to make personal contact and even has plans for you!
·        Many people may decide that they would like to explore Christian faith, especially perhaps when they meet someone for whom this faith has made a difference.
Or maybe when life has become very difficult and questions loom all around;
What does it all mean? What’s the point? What are we here for?
·        We might begin to think about what we might expect to find. Sadly, we might not have a very good view of what this might lead to. We may have had an unhappy experience of church or of people professing a faith. Don’t let this put you off!
·        GO ON THE EXPLORATION! Nothing can happen until you do!
·        Tell others what you have discovered !

·        In the Brownie guidelines for the Faith Badge, it suggests;

1.     Regularly go to a place where you can learn about a faith. 
2.     Use songs, stories, drama, mime or music,
3.     Write a prayer or poem and use it at a suitable event.

·        In the Guides information it suggests;
1.     Undertake a service or responsibility in the life of your faith community.
2.     Find stories from your faith which help you understand how to behave and live in the world of today.
3.     Read a book, watch a DVD or hear about someone whose faith played an important part in the way they lived their life.

·        All these are great ways to EXPLORE CHRISTIAN FAITH.
·        You will think of many more.
·        While the Bible is a kind of map for the journey and learning the bible and learning songs give us great treasure, don’t get stuck in a rut with thinking you know all there is to know about the Christian faith. Don’t assume it’s all about reading and listening, it’s about trying for yourself and about doing too. Don’t assume there is a list of facts to know. Don’t assume everyone else knows the answers and you don’t!
·        GO EXPLORE! And don’t stop.

No comments:

So much to pass on at Highbury

If you give a little love you can get a little love of your own

A blessing shared at Highbury

Now and the Future at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions

Darkness into Light