Sunday, June 23, 2013

Need for Speed?

Our morning service was led by the team who do Hy-Speed, digital Scalextric racing on the second Saturday of the month.

After a time of praise and worship we had an awards ceremony for the season's racing for all those who made the podium finish at Hy-Speed.

It was then on to the Hy-Speed Quiz, won by the youngters over their Dads by 22 points to 3, though you couldn't help but feel that the questions were loaded in favour of the youngsters!

After another song, Richard, our Minister, invterviewed Iain, who manages to get the software working each time Hy-Speed meets.  He told us about his day job for the last twenty years as part of an international team producing computer games, among which Need for Speed is one of the greatest!  It came as quite a surprise to see a photo of a youthful Iain holding a BAFTA, he and the team had won.

Iain has been a regular member of Highbury church almost since moving to Cheltenham and he went on to tell us why his Christian faith is so important to him.  He reflecrted on the way over those 20 years computer gaming has become more and more realistic until it has reached the state of the art that's around now.  Yet, he knows just how much is put into creating each game from an enormous team of people all over the world.   Iain spoke of the way the reality of the greatest games doesn't begin to touch the reality of the incredible world all around us ... and when he looks at that world he cannot help but feel there's something behind that world, something in that world.  Iain told us of the way he sees the creator God in all things as he looks at the wonder of creation.

Iain went on to speak of the value of coming together in church to keep that faith alive and to focus it on Jesus and all that he means.

In the conversation,  Richard went on to reflect on the title of that famous game, Need for Speed.   He recalled coming across Kosuke Koyama, a Japanese Christian who wrote about the way Christianity impacts on people all over Asia.  On one occasion he spoke of Singapore and descibred it as a kind of 'worker ant' society with its incredible emphasis on super efficiency and speed.  Richard commented on the way Singapore has been held up recently in the context of its education system and in the context of its super efficiency as something to emulate.  For Kosuke Koyama the Christian message for Singapore was of a God who goes slowly - and reduces speed.  He speaks of a 'waterbuffalo theology' thinking of the slowness of the water buffalo working the paddy fields of rice and suggests that God is a God of slowness.  It's a fascinating theme that Kosuke Koyama elaborates at some length reflecting on the way God works with the wandering people of Israel over 40 years, through countless generations of Kings, through exile and then this slow working of God comes to a dead halt in the death of Christ.

Maybe we need a God who injects slowness into our lives, Richard suggested.  And that's something of his hope for the space that church offers in the middle of a busy week  - a pause in the presence of God that helps us then return to that world.

At this point Richard brought Sandra Dehn into the conversation.

Sandra recalled spending  a Gap Year after leaving school with us at Highbury as she did a Time for God year.   She shared in Hy-Jinks, the children's club that has now become Transformers, Hy-Tec, the Day Centre, and in our alternative worship on a  Saturday night, The Ocracy.  She also had been fanatical about Formula 1 wearing a Jacques Villeneuve jersey at church the day he won the championship that year!  

It was great then hearing how she has gone on to devote her life to working in the service of others at the moment working in a counselling organisation back home in  Stuttgart that's a Christian organisation supporting people of all ages at times of difficulty in their lives.

Sandra went on to speak of the importance of her Christian faith enabling her to get through all the ups and downs of her life.

Richard rounded off this part of the service inviting James and Hailey to stand with all their family.  James had been with us when Sandra was here as a young person, and with Hailey has been doing Christian work in Manchester, Watford and most rerently in Aberdeen.  But the family are on the move to Crediton where James is to pastor a Congregational Church there.

We wished them well and prayed God's blessing on James's new ministry.

Richard finished with the words Adrian had opened the service with, making them a prayer for us all and a special prayer for James and Hailey and the family.

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord's help;
then he listened to me and heard my cry.

This is the God who sometimes can be slow - wait patiently and his help will be there, he will listen and be the strength we need - something very much for James in that new ministry and for us all.

2 He pulled me out of a dangerous pit,

An appropriate image in a service built around Formula 1 and Scalextric ... though a pit stop was not what the Psalmist had in mind!

out of the deadly quicksand.
He set me safely on a rock
and made me secure.

That's the point of the message of the Psalmist - no matter the trouble that may come God will be there and he will secure us on the firm foundations of a rock - how much that is for James to treasure and for all of us to take to heart.

3 He taught me to sing a new song,
a song of praise to our God.

That's our prayer for James, who with Hailey has a wonderful music ministry, not least writing songs - but more than that it is a prayer for us all that we have a new song in our hearts and that sense of God's presence Iain had been talking about can be very much a part of us.

The conversations over, Ruth, one of our Hy-Tec leaders and part of the Hy-Speed team led us in prayers.  People had been given a red, an amber or a green disc and had been invited to write prayers asking God to stop things, to be with us as we seek guidance in others, and to thank God for the things he is doing in our lives

The service came to a close as we sang a statement of the faith that is important to us all ...

In Christ alone!

Hy-Speed is pausing for a while this month and will meet again at the end of the School holidays when we shall be having a Hy-Speed Cafe on Saturday mornign and then the new season starts again on the second Saturday in September.

Though, before then they will be joining Scalextric at Silverstone for what should be a great run out for the Hy-Speed team!!

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