Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 0-1 - Travel to Edinburgh and Our Journey to Durham

Greetings parents!

            We are currently writing to you from Durham, England, where the weather is not ideal (aka it is super windy and chilly). However, after two LONG days of traveling we finally made it to Scotland. Even though we had minimal sleep, our voyage was unforgettable! Our flight to Newark began with the sassiest and meanest flight attendant “greeting” us. After yelling at Charlie for not listening and talking back to Kendall when she tried to stand up for us pilgrims, the flight attendant ended up telling Charlie a tragic story about how a man tripped on his backpack, cracked his head open, and died on that very plane a few weeks back… very pleasant. We soon arrived at the Newark airport to stay there for about 7 hours. Personally, we now KNOW that Newark is truly the armpit of New Jersey. Newark had very few dining options, some of which were organic and wouldn’t take cash. The pilgrims spent most of their time playing chess (thanks to Claire’s mini chess set that is adorable and tiny) and cards. Henry and Matthew endured a 2 hour long chess match, which resulted in Matthew winning. Much to our relief, the layover ended and we began to board the plane to Edinburgh. The flight to Edinburgh was alright. Most of us didn’t get much sleep at all; some of us even felt extremely sick and ALMOST threw up! Luckily, we pilgrims pushed through and landed safely on the ground in Scotland. Walking around in the Edinburgh airport, we got our first tastes of Scottish accents (which rock even though you can’t understand them half the time). We then boarded our stylish and sassy bus with a bright red velour interior! Our first destination was Melrose Abbey, which took about an hour drive from the airport. We were all amazed with the simple and ancient beauty of the abbey. We got to walk around Melrose Abbey, listening to our handheld headsets. We all stopped in the cloister, a place where monks used to gather and pray, and just laid down on the grass (mostly because we were tired, but we were also reflecting in our journals on what we had just seen). After that, we went to lunch in Melrose. We then went back to the cloister to do our first Lectio Divina and reflect on that. Then, we got back into the bus for another hour long drive to out next destination, Hadrian’s Wall. Before we got to Hadrian’s wall, we stopped at the border of Scotland and England to literally walk across the border and take pictures. At Hadrian’s Wall we walked around looking at old Roman structures (our favorite structure was the Roman bath, mainly the frigidarium). We continued to explore and obsess over the lambs and the luscious fields. Today’s journey ended with us arriving at our hotel and FINALLY taking showers!!! We ate some good din din!  Sorry, but we started our day yesterday at 6:00 AM and we are all a bit tireeeeeeeeeeeddadacm cv ……….




OLivi@ & Clur

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spiritual Itinerary for 2016 Pilgrimage to the United Kingdom

For this pilgrimage, we have chosen to follow the story of creation as we journey through the historic sites of the United Kingdom.  Celtic Spirituality is a very large part of the culture in Scotland and that has played a very large role in the creation of our spiritual itinerary.  Finding and encountering God in new and wonderful ways is central to Celtic Christianity; finding the goodness in all of God’s creations.  As we journey through the United Kingdom, our eyes will truly be opened to the goodness of God’s creation.

Below is an overview of each day along with the chosen scripture for that day.  Please keep us in your prayers as we travel and experience God in a whole new way.

Day 0:  In the Airport….. John 1:1-5
-        As we begin our journey, we will gather to read scripture for the first time in Newark during our layover.  During our time in Scotland we will be following the stories of creation.  Tomorrow, God will begin his work creating the world around us but also within us.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of creation, but in the beginning, the Word was already there.

Day 1 - Tuesday, May 31 – Genesis 1:1-5
-        As we get our first glimpse of Scotland, we will reflect on the first day of creation.  We now can finally see the beautiful landscapes of Scotland and see and celebrate the wonders of God’s creation.  But it also says that God created the heavens, or anything that is beyond earth.  The more we travel, the more we will realize that we are in a “thin place”, something beyond earth.  Where do we see God’s light shining through in this “thin place?”

Day 2 – Wednesday, June 1 – Genesis 1:6-8
-        Night and Day – In life, there are guaranteed times that we will experience both night and day.  We will have our ups and downs.  Some of you may be in the middle of the darkest night and some of you may be enjoying the most glorious day, and that is ok for everyone.  Wherever you are, in whatever place, remember the concluding line from the airport…. The darkness did not overcome it.  There will be darkness, but it will not overcome God.  (We will be visiting Durham/Norman Castle, which is the only castle which NEVER suffered a breach by Scottish invading England.  This also served as the Bishops seat.  The castle itself has experienced darkness, but it was never overtaken.) When have you experienced God in time of night and when have you experienced God in a time of day?

Day 3 – Thursday, June 2 – Genesis 1:9-13
-        God creates seas and dry lands and islands….as we travel by boat to visit the Farne Islands.  I mean, pretty perfect.  We will see the goodness of God’s creation as we explore both land and sea. Where did you see signs of God bearing fruit through Farne Islands?

Day 4 – Friday, June 3 – Genesis 14-19 (planned spontaneous Eucharist day- ask a chaperone to preach?)
-        God creates night and day and puts a dome in the sky to give “light to the world”.   Lindisfarne was the center of Christian missions in northern England and had a significant impact on the life of Britain.  How can we be the “light of the world” when we return home?

Day 5 – Saturday, June 4 - Genesis 1:20-31
-        God creates the animals, birds, and sea creatures.  Perfect for a coastal hike to witness and enjoy all of these creations.  Once we return home, how can we remember to stop and enjoy the goodness of God’s gift of creation?

Day 6 – Sunday, June 5 – Genesis 2:1-3
-        Sabbath.  God rests.  We go to church!  Why do we go to church on the Sabbath?  What do we do to “rest” from the daily grind?  Why is Sabbath important?  When we stop to rest, our hearts become truly open.  We realize that even during the darkest days, we are never in this alone.  Here,  we have our fellow pilgrims, at home we have our parents, we have our church, and when we say church, it is larger than just CHC or the Diocese of West Tennessee, or even the United States.  This morning we will worship the EXACT same way, saying the same words and prayers as we do at home, even though we are thousands of miles away.  It shows the great Anglican community that we are a part of and that we are never alone.

Day 7 – Monday, June 6 – Genesis 2: 4b -9
-        God nurtures and waters the earth so that it may grow.  Then God forms man of the earth.  Do we allow ourselves to remain connected to the earth that brings us life and nourishes us?  How can we find ways to connect with the land from which we were created by God?

Day 8 – Tuesday, June 7 – Matthew 17:1-8
-        Just as Jesus and the disciples experienced a very thin place at the top of a mountain, today we will ascend Arthur’s seat.  From here we will be very close to God as we look out over the entire horizon of Scotland.  Have you ever had a “mountain top” moment?  Did things look different as you returned to the ground?

Day 9 – Wednesday, June 8 – Matthew 17:9-13
-        When coming down, Jesus remarks that they should not share what they had seen until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.  After having their faith reaffirmed in the transfiguration, now Jesus is saying he will die.  This baffles the disciples.  As we prepare to leave, we may be near the end of our journey here, but just as Jesus is always with the disciples, so will this trip be with us.  How will this pilgrimage form your journey forward?
Day 10 – Thursday, June 9 – Matthew 28:16-20
-        Before returning to our families, we will charge them to take what they have learned and keep it with them, but also share it what they have learned with others.  Before returning to our families and friends, we are commissioned to go forth and spread the Good News we have encountered with others.  Be patient and kind with those who have not been on this journey with you, and allow God’s light to shines through your continued pilgrimage of faith.

Yours in Faith,


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Family’s Piety Lasts 12 Seconds After Leaving Church Parking Lot

MARQUETTE, MI—The Granger family’s piety lasted for just 12 seconds after leaving the parking lot of 1st North Baptist Church Sunday, sources reported. Having enjoyed a sermon on 1 Peter 1:14-16 titled “Holiness In Our Lives” and having engaged in warm, loving conversation with friends on matters of church fellowship, the family of five’s reverie was almost immediately shattered as their Chrysler Town & Country minivan made its way home.
Despite the heartfelt emotion and resolve the worship service had engendered in parents Lloyd and Mary Granger, while the car was still turning onto the main road, their five-year-old son Hunter punched his brother Taylor “because [he] wanted to.” In turn, the eight-year-old took away his sibling’s “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” toy, resulting in a high-pitched, sustained yowling that in turn caused fifteen-year-old Sophie Granger to launch into a monologue about the low mental acuity of her younger siblings.
At just under 10 seconds, Mrs. Granger responded with a hissing rejoinder that everyone needed to turn around and “just stop it.” The Granger patriarch, whose thoughts were focused on how he was going to examine Peter’s exhortation to holiness within his workplace and personal life, was jarred out of his contemplations by this cacophony, and responded with a somewhat vague, angry threat of the regret all would feel if they did not listen to their mother “that instant.”
At this 12-second mark, any vestiges of piety in the minivan had been completely eradicated, resulting in a discordant row and personal sniping that only subsided when the warring family called a fragile cease-fire on the promise of lunch at Cracker Barrel.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

By This, Everyone Will Know You Are My Disciples

It is spring time in Memphis, which means many things.  Graduations.  Spring cleaning.  Beginning of summer vacations.

It also marks the ending of the semester for EYC and youth group activities at Holy Communion.  Numbers in spring always seem to drop.  That is not just here at Holy Communion, it seems to be a very common theme amongst churches with youth programs.  Sport’s schedule pick up, school seems more rigorous, and to be honest, apathy begins to set in.

We start looking forward to the future, that we stop caring so much about the things that are important to us now.  More often than not, church seems to be one of the things pushed to the back burner.

One thing I have been doing over my time here at Holy Communion is move from asking, “What do we do here?” and change it into a “Why do we do this?”  What is the purpose of a church youth group?  Is it merely just a place for to send teenagers to be entertained and show them that church is not always boring? 

I think it is so much more!

I became the full time Minister to Youth in August of 2012, making this the first graduating class that I have seen all the way through high school.  In reflecting on the memories and stories of these past four years, it becomes clear as to why we do things.

We have been through a lot these past few years.  We have had our ups and downs.  When we started, we were still trying to discover our identity.  As people but also as a program.  What were we?  In the years that followed, we have seen a lot.  We have seen divorce, car accidents, cancer, and death.  Things that teenagers should not have to deal with. 

But each time something happened, that person was never alone in their struggle.  What were we?  We were a group, that bound together, and overcome every challenge that was thrown at us, and we did it together. 

But all that still seems to cover the what, where is the why?  To answer that question, I must share my story.

I came to Holy Communion in 2004 because I wanted to be a part of the youth program.  My old youth group had fallen apart and I wanted to be a part of one.  I liked youth group.  My friends went to Holy Communion and so I joined.  That became my group.  My core group of friends.  The place I felt like I was at home.  School was filled with so much judgment.  It mattered so much about what you did and who you hung out with and how you acted.  You could not just be yourself, you had to be who you thought other people wanted to be.  But being at church was different.  At school, I was quiet and shy.  I rarely spoke up.  I did not want to pretend to be someone that I wasn’t just to fit in, so I didn’t.  But that was not the case at church.  Ask anyone who was in youth group at that time, I was anything but quiet and shy.  Before coming to Holy Communion, I once dressed as Buddy the Elf and danced around the Nave during church to make an announcement about the Christmas Carnival the youth were hosting.  I felt comfortable at church.  I felt at home at the church.  I was not judged.  I could truly be myself.

That was the why. 

After college, many of my friends were a little surprised when they heard I had become a youth minister.  Telling people about my religion and my faith was never something I really did.  I always admired the people who lived out their faith.  It always seemed to me that the most vocal religious people, were the least religious.  I disagreed with them.

John 13:35 was one passage that always stuck out to me.  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Not, that they will know because you tell them, but because of who you treat others.  How you behave.

If I can say one thing about the youth group over these past few years it is this…. They love each other.

There was a sermon I heard once about what the church really was.  They told a story, one that I can relate to very much, about saying good-bye after a church event.  He shared how he had taken a group of youth on a trip and spent an entire week with them.  When they returned back to the church, they all unloaded, got their bags, and were all set to go.  They said their good-byes then they all gathered around the van and talked.  No one wanted to leave.  They started to walk towards their cars, said their good-byes, and then gathered up again and talked.  Finally, after about 20 minutes, he told the kids they had to leave because he wanted to go home.  So they all said their good-byes, got in their cars, and went to dinner together.  They did not want to leave each other.  After the kids left, the adults said their good-byes and then laughed and joked about how they had just spent an entire week with each other and weren’t sick of other yet.  They did not want to leave either. 

THAT…. Is the church.  THAT is the why.

The relationships formed here are unlike anywhere else. 

The relationships formed here make you want to go to the church and hang out during youth group after spending an entire weekend at a youth retreat.  They are the kind of relationships that make you go to Gibson’s every Wednesday after church.  They are the kind of relationships that make you gather with your friends after school at the church to watch movies.  They have been there to support each other no matter what life threw at them.

Three years ago, I wrote a post about what I wanted and I thought the youth group here at Holy Communion…the saying I landed upon, Beacon of Christ.  You can read that post here- http://youngsterstheology.blogspot.com/search?q=be+the+light

Looking at the group we have this year and the relationships that have formed…I would say that they are doing just that…they are spreading the light of Christ to all those around them.