Monday, 26 September 2016

Video: Gabriel Collective

Above is a vlog of my day at an event called Gabriel Two. I was there working with the Gabriel Collective who were the team that put on the event. Check out more videos and info at

I got involved in Gabriel Collective because I vlog on this blog, and I caught wind of them on the Church of England podcast I think, or on Twitter maybe, because they encourage and support young people sharing their faith via online video. Now obviously I'm actually just sharing my personal vocation story here, but that is still a vehicle for evangelism I suppose, and at 24, I count as a young person.

It's been good for me, being part of GC, because Criteria H: Mission and Evangelism is one of the bumps I hit when going through the Criteria for Selection to the Ordained Ministry in the Church of England. You can watch the relevant section of one of my oldest vlogs here (link starts at Criteria H at 27:46 - don't judge me, I hadn't started actually editing the videos I put up at that point!) to see where I was on the subject a year ago. I should do another video (shorter and actually edited this time) going through the Criteria again, thinking about it. It's going on the to-do list!

Anyway, I had a great time at Gabriel Two, and I'll plug the Collective's message for a moment - anyone can do this! Get out your phone and put a faith-related video on Youtube - if muggins here can do it, it shows jut how easy it is. Have a go!

And for those following the story of this blog, things are still going well at St Martin's and I'm seeing the rector of St James' on Saturday, so you can expect the next installment some time after that.

Friday, 16 September 2016

07/09/2016 One year into exploration of vocation

As you can tell from the date, this post is tiny bit late, but the idea behind it is to do an anniversary blog, to look back over my vocation journey. You can see a summary of my progress so far on my page Steps on My Journey (recently nicked as a concept by my antipodes-based-vocation-blogger-turned-friend whose amazing blog you can find here).

I just watched my first, minute long vlog, which I did at 2am, having decided to start logging my journey, and in hindsight, it's bloody prophetic. In it I said that I was excited and whilst "not wanting to sound dramatic", I felt like I was on the verge of quite a big change. Sitting here, two weeks into being pastoral assistant at the church on London's Trafalgar Square, too right it's been dramatic, my life has changed entirely!

My second post was my faith history, and in the video accompanying the blog post, I said how putting it down as a sequence of events brought forth a coherent story. That feeling has been firmed up considerably in the last year. I've actually been aware of the story as it unfolds rather than only when looking back, and I think that's because I've been very slowly opening myself up to God and actually looking for God in my life, which is a big step that I'm still working on. As my last post said, God has been an underlying current in my life and often I've gone along without any awareness of God supporting me, carrying me, surrounding me, and loving me, at the time. This last year, probably more like this last six months, I've started connecting with God in the everyday fabric of life, and so catch glimpses of the pattern God is weaving.

As I said in the other post, it's been a task of submission, and I'm inching my forehead closer to the floor at God's feet, and getting better at, as the song this gif is from says, looking at my life through heaven's eyes.

Then I watched this video after my third talk with the rector, on the 30th Nov last year, and two things struck me. I said we talked about how my stage management skills and ways of being need to be used outside of the theatre as well, and I didn't know it at the time, but I think this new job is exactly what I need to make that happen. Who I am professionally is being overlaid and interwoven with who I am at church (because I'm now professionally at church!) and that's part of the larger journey of my identity reforming as more in Christ, because I am tangibly serving God everyday. I've always said I'm not wired to be a good 'secular Christian', and sure, I'm only two weeks in, it's too soon to really say, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to prove myself right on this one.

Second thing from the video was the laughable hope I had that Lucy would send me to the ADO in January. Ha ha I laugh at myself. I have audio visual evidence that setting up expectations and deciding my own timeline for the future is utterly pointless and again, I should submit to God, be taken along by the river and just try and keep paddling in the same direction.

So many things are actually happening now. Over the last year, I have had many moments of frustration, feeling like nothing was happening at all. But looking at that list of Steps, I've been rather busy. But I shouldn't be surprised - God and I have a very slow-moving relationship, because it is true that I do better at things in life if I get to work up to it in a thorough and methodical manner. God understands that better than I do when I'm being blinded by my enthusiasm and passion. If I were able to tell my past self from a year ago that by now I would still not have seen an ADO, past-me would have been angry and sad, dismayed that what felt like a real pushing drive to follow God's call is being acted upon on a timescale that doesn't match.

But that's past-me. Present-me has grown an acceptance of the situation. I've pretty much relinquished control to God, though I still get the odd twinge of anxiety when contemplating my future. And now I'm in this job, it's enough to keep my busy and distracted, whilst at the same time obviously itself being God's tool to shape me for that future. Lucy and I are also making headway, and as you'll see in a future vlog, I'm meeting others that will be part of the journey too. Things are moving, I am changing, and I'm just so pleased with where my life has brought me.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Video: Eighth visit to the rector

One of the things that I didn't mention in the video was at one point in our walk, I said something about God being a river that flows in my life, which was an idea I hadn't hit before, so I wanted to explore it a little


Excuse me a moment as I indulge in my love of Disney classics. There are two lines about rivers I want to reference from the film Pocahontas

Chief Powhatan sings to his daughter "As the river cuts his path, though the river's proud and strong, He will choose the smoothest course - that's why rivers live so long. They're steady, as the steady beating drum."

Proud and strong
Pocahontas, after he has left, says "He wants me to be steady like the river. But it's not steady at all!" then she sings "What I love most about rivers is you can't step in the river twice; the waters always changing, always flowing."

You can't step into the same river twice
And as much as it's one of Disney's heavy-handed metaphors, both lines are useful to me in describing a little of God's role in my life. God operates as both types of river, the strong, steady one that knows the best course, and the water that is never the same, bringing renewal and surprises just around the river bend.

Rapids of being caught up in divine intervention

The metaphor can go further. God as water is a common Christian theme - life giving, cleansing, pure, necessary, naturally occurring trinity (solid, liquid, gas), precious, etc. As a river specifically, there are lots of tributaries within my soul that run into and join God at the centre; sometimes God is a still pool within me and I can float on the surface, reveling in being surrounded and held up by God; sometimes God's a ferocious rapid that whips me off my feet and carries me off on a bumpy ride where I can only catch glimpses of the direction/destination when I manage to break the surface for air before being sucked under again.

Do you still wait for me, dream giver,
 just around the river bend/?
What I was thinking of as I strolled through the park with the rector and her dog was that God is a continual current running under me as I sit in the boat of my life. God catches my eye occasionally with a dazzling sparkle, or sends me down the unexpected fork, or just suddenly becomes a waterfall. But even though I sometimes lose sight of the river, and am deluded that the boat is all there is to reality, it doesn't matter because God is still holding me up, guiding me down if not the smoothest course, then at least the one of God's choosing, steady in the sense that God is always there, immovable and relentless.

More and more unexpected waterfalls
I think my problem is sometimes I take God for granted. The fact that I can trust in ending up on the
right course doesn't mean I don't have a responsibility to maintain and improve that boat in response to the river's design. It's a smoother ride when God nudges me towards a different fork if I change my sails to line up with that, and even paddle in support of the new direction. I've learnt a lot of that submission in the last year as I've become more aware of the need to 'listen' to the river on my life that is God, the need to expand my knowledge so, like a theological Bear Grylls, I can read the workings of God around me, in me, and through me, and respond to work in tandem with that river, not against it.