Subway Prophet

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

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Morning Prayer, Monotony, and the Joys of Advent

LJW does his Morning Prayer.

LJW does his Morning Prayer.

One of the most significant parts of life in Cranmer Hall and the Wesley Study Centre is the regular pattern of prayer. At Duke I was an infrequent attendee of Morning Prayer. It was not because I do not love beginning my day with prayer and Scripture; it is just that I prefer to begin my days with a few more minutes of snooze-button enabled sleep.

Because Cranmer is primarily here to train Anglican students for ministry, Morning Prayer is a requirement for their students. Methodists (much to Wesley’s post-mordem disappointment) are not required to attend every day, however it is strongly encouraged. Because I am living in college and breakfast is only served before prayers, my motivation to get out of bed is significantly higher. As such it has become a much more significant aspect of my daily life.

This means that the lectionary readings for the daily office have made the pattern of the liturgical seasons all the more prominent. For most of the daily services we use the Church of England’s Common Worship. During Ordinary Time, it has different services for each day of the week. Each service provides enough similarity to provide continuity throughout the week, while also having enough change to keep things from becoming monotonous. However, After All Saints Day, the service changed. Gone were the variety and in came one liturgy for the entire month before Advent. Even though many of the students who led the prayers tried to add in various things to mix up the service, by last week I was awaiting Advent not for the emphasis on Jesus as the Light into the darkness, but just so that I could turn to a different page each day!

Therefore on Monday with words like, “…the dawn from on high is breaking upon us to dispel the lingering shadows of night…” ordinary time was over and the preparation for Christmas had begun! As I thought about it, I realized that this is the point of Advent. In the midst of the normal routines of life, the season of Advent breaks in all around us both with explosions of garland and bright colored lights, as well as the reminder that so many years ago, God broke into the normalness of the world in the person of Jesus, illuminating a world filled with darkness and reconciling all of humanity within himself.

Now that is something we can celebrate!

LJW celebrates Advent at Sacriston Methodist Church

LJW celebrates Advent at Sacriston Methodist Church

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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