Yoblog – Musings of a Church Youth Officer

Liturgical Dance
January 24, 2011, 10:15 pm
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The thought of dancing in church is one of those things that generally gives me the heeby jeebies. Unless you have a gospel choir and a natural ability it is generally cringeworthy. Twirling ribbons should be completely banned.

But then I see my one year old daughter desperately trying to dance in church. And being frustrated with the music. Pip’s unaccompanied Advent Prose just didn’t have a groove about it in December.

She tried a boogie in the Creed yesterday and looked puzzled.

It was music. She knew it was music. But something just wasn’t right.

Even “I heard the voice of Jesus say” had a bit of promise but there was no satisfaction in the bopping.

Last night I participated in an “All age worship” service at the Cathedral in Edinburgh and raised an eyebrow at the choice of music. One hymn – “The King of Love my Shepherd is”.  Not really a kids classic. But the last time they tried a worship song, the pianist didn’t know it nor did those attending and it was not good. At least the adults would sing this.

But what do children want in terms of music? Actions? Dancing? Clapping? Drums and guitars? Easy words? Traditional hymns? What do we do with musicians who are stuck in a rut?

I feel a wee research project or training morning coming on… anybody else think it is worth a bit of time?

Basic Nativity Play Script
December 2, 2010, 7:26 pm
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I was pleased to come accross a good nativity play script from Tear Fund this year.

One that was not from a bizarre viewpoint (e.g. the story told by a pile of donkey dung), nor one that was trying to be funny, nor one that wanted your credit card details before you could read it. 

The Christmas story is surely good enough it doesn’t need gimmics.  This version has both options to be fully narrated or have children learning some lines.

I think it is a good start and you can find it here!

Setting a Date
November 17, 2010, 3:14 pm
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I am wishing Prince William and Kate to set their wedding date as soon as possible.

You see, I’m also trying to set dates for Diocesan youth and children’s events next year. I’ve already checked the 2011 rugby calendar.  I want people to have no excuses not to come.

I’m thinking of two May weekends for a Diocesan Fischy music bash and a Youth (11-14s) weekend retreat.

Anybody guessing when the Royal wedding will be? Or any other life changing events that I should know about???

November 8, 2010, 3:43 pm
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One of the priviledges of my job is to visit churches around the Diocese.  I went to Melrose yesterday and found myself transported to two different places in my past.

One of the readings yesterday was from Job and included the verse “I know that my Redeemer lives”.  As soon as I heard it read I was back in the dining room of the orphanage that I helped in in the Diocese of Pelotas in Southern Brazil. I had tried to cheer up some of the rooms by painting murals and one of them was a joyous ant (Smilinguido) with this verse underneath. Sitting in the church in Melrose I realised I had never thought about the biblical context of that phrase and reflected that to end up in a Brazilian orphanage is maybe not dissimilar to what happened to Job. And I wondered what had become of the girls I had worked with 15 years ago..

And then I also had another flashback to being a teenager at St John’s Princes Street Perth, where it was decided to get the youth group involved in all the committees of the church. I was on the worship committee and spent most of the time feeling a bit puzzled. They wanted to hear what we youngsters liked and disliked but they didn’t want to change anything. Instead, I was told I would learn to love what they love as I got older.  I still haven’t grown up enough to adore singing psalms. Nor do I ever search out a Matins service. The kids in Melrose said they wanted more upbeat music and lordy, so did I after having sat through the service! Change can be such a tricky thing to get right, but not trying at all is surely worse.

There is a lovely bunch of people in Melrose and a great group of teenagers getting ready for confirmation. I hope everybody can find something in their church that speaks to them, while understanding other people’s needs.

Well done Cornerstone Bookshop
November 3, 2010, 11:33 am
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I’m guilty as much as anybody of not being that great at supporting real bookshops. You know the ones where you can go in and actually browse, even though I love them.  It is far too easy if you know what you want to do a quick internet search and within a couple of days you hear a reassuring THWUMP as said book lands through the letterbox.

Churchy books are the one type I struggle with to buy on-line. There are so many out there that are twee, naff, too hardline for my taste…

So when I wanted 10 books for the kids at my church who were being admitted to communion I trotted along to Cornerstone Bookshop which is part of St John’s Princes Street in Edinburgh.  Having been on the phone too long, I suddenly had 15 minutes to choose a selection of books so that I could catch my train to be home for my daughter’s first birthday party. No problem, I shouted ‘help’ and had wonderful assistance and suggestions from (I think her name is) Margaret. 

I was quite disappointed in myself, and in all the other people who apparently go in with similar requests, who are quite focussed on the price of books. Partly you want parity between the gifted books and partly you don’t want a moaning treasurer!

So what did I get? Well a mixture of “The Tale of Three Trees”, “A Child’s Garden,  a Story of Hope”, “Saints of Scotland” and the wonderfully illustrated (Nick Butterworth/Mick Inkpen)  “Stories Jesus Told”.

Ten books, £45. Job done!

A travellers tale
October 30, 2010, 10:02 pm
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When I turned up to the admission to communion class at Bathgate at about 4.15pm , I had a bag of food with me that had done the rounds of the Diocese today. 

There was a Provincial Youth Network meeting this morning at the General Synod Office where I took some left over biscuits, fruit and sandwiches to my next destination – the Pizza Party and Summer Camp Stories Youth event in Penicuik.  The sandwiches went, but I acquired left over pizza. Cakes were offloaded in Bathgate and having retreated home, the spare pizza fed to my children for their dinner after a busy day. So my bag of ‘Diocesan food’ has been well dispersed.

I managed to drive past or pretty close to quite a few of the churches in the Diocese in my 62 mile round trip. There are still plenty I have never visited.   I’m off to St Ninian’s Comely Bank tomorrow morning and will take my two oldest kids as ‘mystery worshippers’. It is always interesting to get their feedback!

A Busy Week
October 29, 2010, 4:49 pm
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In this job, events seem to all come at once and then there follows a period of calm. This is one of those busy weeks!

Synod was good last night. I did a presentation on Messy Church with the help of some others who are currently doing it.  I really liked seeing the genuine enthusiasm of these middle aged men as they talked about the work for families in their churches.  The new treasurer did a good turn too, although I spent most of her talk coveting her dress as I was sure I had seen it in the Boden catalogue that has just dropped through my door and is for looking at ONLY! Moral – be an accountant and you will have money to buy from Boden!

Then there was a group discussion slot about What we are doing about God. I had some big cheeses in my group which made it moderately interesting but I don’t think we got anywhere near answering the posed questions.

When my mind was drifting, I did think we could try a Messy Synod. Instead of everybody having to listen to finance, childrens work, the Bishop…. you could split it all up and let people choose what they went to. People might contribute more and those presenting get more feedback from people who have chosen to engage with that topic. Not sure how you’d feed everybody though. Chippy?

So it’s a Provinical Youth Network meeting tomorrow morning, the Pizza Party and Summer Camp stories youth event in the afternoon and a visit to a church I’ve never been to before on Sunday morning. I’ll need Monday to recover.

Little Horrors
October 27, 2010, 1:09 pm
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Some in our church always had a doubt about whether having a special First Communion service on Halloween was actually a good idea.  All talk of getting dressed up for the occasion has the kids thinking fangs and blood.

I made the mistake of mentioning that somebody special with a pointy hat and a big stick was coming to the service.  Poor Bishop Brian will wonder why the kids are looking out for a wizard and not him!

Back into the swing of things
October 12, 2010, 12:57 pm
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Having been off the scene for over a year, it is good to meet up with folks I’ve worked with from around the Diocese. Ruth Innes was instituted at Christ Church Falkirk in a joyous and moving service on Friday night where the great and the good were all in attendance. Looking at the start of her new ministry I felt a wee tweak of envy that she has one place and one community to work with.  Being part-time and working across the whole Diocese can make me feel that it is nigh impossible to have an impact in any one place or to really get to know one community.

Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe it is still ‘baby brain’, but I was struggling to remember people’s names at the bun fight afterwards. So many a conversation started with “Great to see you, how’s things and will you please just remind me of your name…”  Even worse are the folks who seem to know me and I would swear I’ve never seen them before in my life.

And then it was First Communion classes on Sunday at St Columba’s Bathgate. One of the Mission and Ministry Committee’s objectives is to produce Confirmation class type material so I was curious to see what my kids would make of it all. In the end it was very short and sweet and to be continued…

Now an Epiphany party to plan, a Pizza party to co-ordinate, a Synod presentation to write  and lots of visits out and about  to let people know I am back.

Christmas is Coming
October 8, 2010, 1:52 pm
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Whether we like it or not, the festive season is soon to be upon us and people are starting to think about planning Christmas services. I’ve just had a rummage in the Diocesan resources library to see if any new Christmas stuff appeared last year. We have a couple of new Christmas craft books and also a couple of nativity play books. I’m always on the lookout for a fanstastic nativity play…and I don’t think I’ve found it yet. 

Call me traditional, but I’d rather have a simple telling of the Christmas story as opposed to something that is meant to be funny and is not, or the story twisted around and retold from an odd perspective just for the sake of it. I think the ‘off the shelf’ material will always need some customisation to suit tastes, age and ability.

These days, with the busy lives people lead, it can also be even harder to have many rehersals beforehand, so something that doesn’t require huge amounts of lines to be learnt is a bonus.

If you have found anything fabulous, do let me know.

Or if you’re in the Diocese and would like to borrow “Topsy Turvy Christmas,” “Celebrating Christingle”, “Nursery Rhyme Nativities” or “The Angry Hotel Man” give me a shout.