Today sees the launch of a community audit I am leading – A Church4U? at an event based in a local school, followed by a church service focused on the story of the road to Emmaus. The focus of the audit is to use surveys, focus group and films to discover the heart and soul of the area- a place with two distinctive christian communities yet no dedicated church building. We hope to discover what residents, and those working in the community, understand church to be, and also if they want to be part of a vision that will establish a multi-use church building as much about community service and a place to be as a venue for Sunday worship.
After the death of Jesus the disciples lost heart and hope. Their Rabbi and leader had died and they were devastated and had little idea of what to do next other than to return to their former lives. It was as if that previous three years had counted for nothing. On the Road to Emmaus Jesus revealed the truth of his mission to them and they learned that they would receive power through the Holy Spirit. They would gain hope and a new mission and would have some story to share- a story destined to turn the world on its head. Today two churches will meet in a community centre without any outward visible sign that they are church. I will be asking them about how many people they are walking with every day on their own road to Emmaus and how these strangers or friends will be able to catch a glimpse of Jesus?
For a previous post on a related topic see https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/now-you-see-me-now-you-dont/
Phew!! I’ve just got back from inviting every person who lives in my street to join a Facebook site I have set up for the Road. The folks have also been asked if they are interested in helping host a street party on July 19th as part of The Big Lunch see http://www.thebiglunch.com/ .
It seems this is a great initiative for which Christians can help to take a lead role if we want to live out one of the core teachings of Jesus- loving our neighbours as ourselves. What better way to show this than be serving each other and getting road the table and sharing a large community meal. On July 19th let’s hope we see a mass exodus of the church leaving the building and serving up lunch in the street.
As one of my friends would say when saying grace; “Lord bless this bunch as they munch this lunch.”
This week the parents of murdered teenager Jimmy Mizen spoke out about how the aniversary of their son’s death should serve as “ a message for peace”. A memorial bench was unveiled near where Jimmy was murdered and the Mizens joined with the parents of Damilola Taylor and Rob Knox to launch a group called United Parents- which aimes to mdivert young people from crime.
Last year I was involved with a project called Hopeinfo.co.uk and the Mizens kindly agreed to be filmed as part of it. To see the remarkable things they had to say about the impact of the tragic death of their son and their hope that other people will find faith- see my post and the film at https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/03/14/jimmy-mizen-tragedy-and-hope-in-three-and-a-half-minutes/
In this morning’s BBC Radio4 Thought for the Day Abdal Hakim Murad shared that a new survey by the Gallup organisation has revealed that Muslims are much more likely than the general population to have confidence in British institutions such as the judiciary, the political process, the media and the police. 77% seven percent of UK Muslims say that they identify with the UK, compared to only fifty percent of the general population.
As politicians fret about social cohesion, and worry that our national identity is at risk. Some commentators mistrust religious and ethnic minorities, with their continuing desire to be distinctive. Yet if the concern is about our sense of belonging, the Gallup poll suggests that the Muslim minority is more part of the solution than part of the problem. Difference does not have to undermine cohesion. It is clear that one important part of being British is that there is no single way of being British. Pilgrims in Mecca, a city where the English language was never heard only a couple of generations ago, can now be heard speaking with the most perfect Glaswegian, Liverpudlian, or London accents.
Both Jesus and the Prophet outline the importance of loving for your neighbours what you love for yourself. Abdal says that ” for me, that means more than sharing an occasional cup of sugar. It means affirming what is best in their own heritage. Religion, at its best, allows us to be different, while helping others to be true to themselves.”
To hear the Broadcast in full see http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/thought/