Dangerously been thinking! So I am writing my dissertation for my MA on Mission to young people in Wales (specifically Anglican and St David's diocese). At the moment I am excited by the prospect of unpacking some findings but trying to prepare myself for a reality check.
I have grown to love Wales dearly, the sound of rain on the roof of my house, the smell of the sea, the sight of rolling hills that stretch to the ocean. The feel of the wild wind blowing in your hair and the taste of fish an chips on the prom. But it's more than sentimental mush and I can't even believe I am publicly admitting this. But this place has an endearing quality, a helplessness and a need.
So lets get down to what I am trying to say. There are some harrowing statistics that say that only 1% of young people have contact with the church in this diocese. We try and make excuses and avoid the harsh truth, but it's there on paper. The church is loosing touch? I just don't know. Has our negativity towards the church brought about a demise - a self fulfilling prophecy? Have we blinded ourselves to the positive things that are going on? Has increased demands on our lives and finances sucked us so dry that we have nothing left to give?
2 Samuel 16
Lets face it David had some rough times, he'd been anointed king whilst still a teenager and had since then been running from a crazy king who swung between being threatened by him, to liking him, to genuinely wanting him dead. The Israelite people have been up and down in their relationship with God and David has just been leading a rabble of bandits. Finally he is there, he's made it to the throne, probably totally drained wondering how to start leading a people that have been at war. And what does he do? He strips back to basics literally. He knows that Jerusalem needs it's God back. Firstly he arranges for the Ark of the covenant to be brought back home. Yes there was a slight blip in the middle but a reminder of God's holiness, which should not be forgotten. He knew it was needed as a focal point for the nation and he was not going to shy away from it's importance, so off he goes in his underwear to meet it as it arrives at the city. Making a fool of himself? Probably, but surely what he is saying in the act is more important. I am not totally sure - but correct me if I am wrong - that king David knew how he was going to sort out the mess that was facing him and he knew he needed God. He was aware of his own failings and need for humility before a Holy God. And there he was, up there dancing away, not dressed in finery but before God as he was.
So what can it teach us? Well perhaps I want to say this is what this teaches me and reminds me is that things are disheartening and uncertain, yet God needs to be my focal point. I am just a normal person who knows little about what I approach, and I need to remain in that mindset of the actual focus; the glory of God. And how much more with the knowledge and evidence of Jesus should I recognise this in my questioning?
It's only a dissertation I hear you say, yes it is! Yet I can't help but fear the getting lost in decay or hyped up in new prospects that if anyone did ever read it it could impact not only their attitude towards the Church but God himself. In fact everything we do is like that, our writing dissertations, going to work, our driving, our socialising. So somehow as we live our lives for God we need to be continuing to look for ways to reflect His Glory.