Subway Prophet

…and the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls…


Update from Me and LJW

Wow…My first term in England is almost over, Thanksgiving has gone, Christmas is just around the corner, and as I knew would happen, it has been a long time since there has been a post on here. There have been lots of posts in my head, but none have been finished. I blame the quick succession of papers, presentations, and long conversations in the common room over cups and cups of tea. So, what I thought I would do is to give an overview of the past few weeks through a massive Little John Wesley update. LJW is a very helpful companion, because if I don’t do fun things every now and then, he gets rather cross with me. I know what you are thinking: How can his stitched smile look scary? Trust me. It does. So, here it is

LJW and a Monk

LJW and a Monk

Right after All Saints Day, The Methodist students all took a retreat to the monastery at Ampleforth Abby. It was a great time together. We focused on the “I AM…” sayings in the Gospel of John with brief devotions throughout the day followed by longer periods of personal reflection and rest. After a busy few weeks, it was a very welcome break! It was also very nice to be at an Abby and participate with the monastic order of prayer. Monastic worship has been meaningful to me for a long time and sitting in the choir with the monks was beautiful as their chants and prayers washed over us. After five long weeks of getting used to England, classes, and each other, to be able to get away from college, and gel as a community was more welcome than many of us realized. The one downside was that our Anglican friends were not there. They had a retreat for themselves, but sharing stories when we returned helped to bridge the gap.

LJW visits Whitby

LJW visits Whitby

The week after Reading Week was my birthday! Birthdays are one of those times of the year when you can throw a party and invite your closest friends and family and have a good time. This year was the big quarter century mark, which makes me feel rather old. As I thought about how to celebrate my birthday, I decided that I wanted a distinctly English experience. Which means that it needed to include Fish and Chips. This was also significant because my birthday was also my two month anniversary in England, so a Chip shop needed to happen. After much research I discovered that the town of Whitby has one of the best Fish and Chips in the country (as well as the best Mushy peas! Don’t curl your nose up. They are my favorite English side dish after the Yorkshire pudding). We woke up kinda early,went to McDonalds for Breakfast (“American” Style), and then off to the beach. It was VERY cold and very cool. Whitby is where Dracula was set, as well as beautiful lighthouses, and a ruined monastery. Kayla, who is my fellow Americah came along for the fun as well as two of our friends who are Anglican ordinands. Road Trips are always exciting, so it was good to have fun people to spend the day with.

LJW enjoys a Thanksgiving Meal

LJW enjoys a Thanksgiving Meal

The next exciting holiday was Thanksgiving! If you ever want to feel out of place,try explaining Thanksgiving to someone in England. I was surprised how many people had very little idea of what the holiday was all about, so it was fun sharing the story of pilgrims, Indians, massive feasts and subsequent oppression and unrest. To celebrate Kayla and I taught some of our fellow students how to draw hand turkeys. For me one of the highlights were all of our British friends wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving. It represented the hospitality which I have received time and time again since I have been in this country. Here was a very American holiday which could have been entirely depressing and a stark reminder of how far away from home I was. However, with each cheery greeting I was reminded that the heart of the holiday is the love of family and friends. Therefore, as much as I missed home, at the end of the day, I was thankful for the new friends that I have made and the community we have created. This was brought to the foreground even more over the weekend when Kayla and I forgot about our pending papers and spend 15 hours in the kitchen of some friends’ house cooking up a “proper” Thanksgiving meal. It included all the fixin’s from both of our families. There is nothing like a post-Turkey coma to remind you of home :).

So, there it is. Next week is our last normal week of classes. Following that is a week-long intensive class followed by a four week break. There is more to come, but I hope that this will appease those of you who have been checking and not seeing any changes. Here is a gallery of more pictures from the past month. Click through and enjoy!

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Micro Mission: Just a Stranger On a Bus

This is the end of reading week here at Cranmer/WSC and so one would think that I would have had a lot of time to write another blog post. Well I have started several (including a Little Wesley update!), but alas, they are not print ready yet…So, I thought I would share an assignment we did several weeks ago for my Mission class. In the class we are talking about what it means to be in mission and to be a missionally minded people. This topic is one of the main reasons why I wanted to study here because the way the Church in England (both Methodist and Anglican) is thinking about mission is very exciting! The assignment was to go out for an hour an half during class time on a “Micro-Mission” and “proclaim the Kingdom of God however you feel led.” It was a daunting task, but this is the reflection I wrote about it. You can see other people’s experiences here.

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
-Joan Osborne

Mark and I by a bus stop.

One of the fundamental ideas of mission is that you don’t bring God into a situation, but that God is already working out in the world around us, and that by going out we seek to participate in that work. The question becomes how do we do that? For Mark and myself this proved to be a complicated question. We wanted to go somewhere we would have real conversations with people, but also someplace where we could break though the walls that people build up around themselves. Walls which insulate people from the world around them.

In order to do this, we decided to just get on a city bus and talk to people. It was a simple concept, but one which was a strange concept to many people who we told it to. This was not a sneaky way of trying to turn the conversation to Jesus. There was no ulterior motive. We were people of faith, we are training to be an Anglican vicar and a Methodist minister, that is who we are, and we were not going to hide it. But, the point of the mission was to talk to people, to hear about their lives, not to impose our own agenda.

So, on the day of our mission we went up the Cathedral, seeing no one on the bus, we walked down the streets of Durham greeting random people along the way until we found a suitable bus stop (the first one we came to). When the bus pulled up we explained to the driver that we wanted a ticket to the end of the line. He was not quite sure what to do with two guys who had no particular destination in mind, but he gave us our tickets and we sat down.

Over the course of our bus ride we greeted many different people. Some were eager to talk about their pets, to tell stories of their connection to St. Johns, or one woman who had been waiting to see the cathedral for 80 years. These however were the exception. Often we greeted a pair of headphones, a vacant stare, or the back of a person’s head. When there was no one to talk with, we prayed. We prayed for people even though they didn’t know it.

When the bus finally brought us back to our stop and we had to get off the question was left in our minds. Where was God? Was God in our greetings? Was God in the rejection? Was God in the people we missed? I think the answer to it all is yes. God was on the bus, off the bus, and in all places trying help us all find our way home. And, for that hour and half, both of us were just along for the ride.

-Drew and Mark