Tuning out the world…….


I have been meaning to do a post like this for a while, but I kept putting it off……but two things happened this week that finally gave me the impetus to reflect on the effect that technology has on our interaction with the wider community.

1) While hanging out with milady on Sunday, I accidentally left my Ipod and headphones in the back of her car.

Since she works most of the week, and we only get to see each other on days-off, that meant I had three to spend three days without portable music, and no wi-fi connection at my fingertips. 😦

2) I finished reading Digital Disciple by Adam Thomas. In this short book, the author explores both the pros and cons of living in a world permeated by social networking, online gaming and Google searches that take mere fractions of a second.

He writes with a central question in mind: What does all this Tech (and its consequences) have for followers of Jesus Christ?

With these two events coinciding, I was forced to reflect on my own use of technology…..and more especially the power my Ipod gives me to ignore the world around me.

For those of you who don’t know…..I work part-time as a street pastor for one of the churches here in London. Basically, this job involves entering into pastoral relationships with people who find themselves homeless or (as is more often the case) those who are making a very limited income.

The government pensions that they are given are high enough that they can afford to live somewhere, but there is no guarantee that a) the living conditions they can afford are healthy for their well-being or that b) there is enough disposable income left to afford basic needs like food and clothing.

Normally, I go out for about 2-3 hours on any given day and scoot around the downtown area and the East End….listening to the lives and witness of these folks. If the situation calls for it, it is also my job to direct them towards services that they inquire about, or might be able to make use of.

What struck me over this past week….is that the Ipod allows me to dictate when I will listen and when I won’t. Having my ginormous headphones on signifies to most folks that my ability to listen is gone….or at the very least, occupied in another activity. It allows me to close my ears to the cry of the poor….and I openly wonder if that’s a good thing.

In the days of the Walkman and CD player, my ability to block out the world only lasted for as long as the AAA batteries kept running. After those two or three hours, I was forced to either go to the dollar store and get some more, or put the Walkman away and resume my “normal” life of interacting with people 1:1

Now….. with batteries and smart-phones that last the whole day, the option to engage with the world, or to drown it out becomes a conscious choice.

In the three days that I had without music, I found myself surrounded by snippets of conversation. Instead of my favourite tracks by DMB, my ears were filled with the loud drilling and hammering of the construction crews. Instead of contemplating the Gospel through a podcast, I found myself open to more encounters with those on the sidewalk.

I have no real end-point or conclusion to this post/reflection……but I thought it was important to throw it out there as both an observation for myself and–potentially–a chance for us collectively to think about: what distracts us from being disciples??? …..Leave a comment on this post with some of your thoughts. As always, I look forward to some discussion. +

Reflections on an Incredible Week

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Note to the reader: Normally, I’m not a fan of putting a tonne of text in a single blog post, but trust me when I tell you that it was almost impossible to encapsulate my experience within my self-imposed 350 word limit. Hope you enjoy the final product below. 🙂

So……this has nothing to do with the Daily Office……or the overall aim for this project..but this week, I found myself challenged, moved, and stretched in all kinds of profound ways. Simply put: it was too good a time not to share with my friends in the blogosphere. 🙂

I do feel somewhat guilty for not being able to post on Ascension Day (I try not to miss major Feast Days), and yet–at the same time–being unplugged from the virtual world seemed oddly appropriate :).

It allowed me to really connect with folks at the Common Ground Youth Ministry Forum It was nice not to be caught up in emails, blog-posts and the procrastination time-sink that is Facebook ;).

Don’t get me wrong, I love all three of those tools, and use them regularly, but this week had a real authenticity to it that I haven’t experienced in quite a while.

For those who don’t know, Common Ground was an Ecumenical Conference betwixt the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Church. All told there were some 130+ delegates from across Canada gathering to worship, learn, and ponder how the Spirit is moving in the Church, and being transformed by the youth of our respective communities.

This conference was nothing short of amazing!

I can honestly say that I got something out of every single workshop….and while there’s no way I can say that I met every delegate or got to know them very well, I was (and still am) astounded at how open, honest, and vulnerable everyone seemed to be.

As ready as we all were to share our woes, concerns, and challenges when it came to youth ministry…..those narratives were small potatoes when compared to the plethora of stories about resurrection and new life…..even in the midst of some pretty dark circumstances and personal life-experiences.

Overall I am left with two lasting images and impressions from the Common Ground I and some new-found friends and colleagues stand on:

Eli and Samuel

The story of Eli and Samuel was something that our first keynote speakerused to draw us into the conference. For me it set the tone for the entire experience.

His basic point was that all those in leadership positions–especially when connected with youth–are to act as guides and God-bearers to those we minister to.

No one can be brought to God on their own. Rather, they are usually brought into the Divine Presence by someone who acts as their mentor; by someone whom they know and trust. Leaders like Eli knew that he had to encourage Samuel to listen to the voice of the LORD and not to dismiss it out of hand. Eli did this even at the peril of his own line dying out.

We too as youth leaders are asked to lead others, even if it might lead to us having less authority or control in the Church…we must always leave room for new prophets to speak truth, and to make the radical vision of God’s love known to all.

The second image that sticks with me is the Transfig:

Not gonna lie….when my alarm went off at 6am this morning so that I could be in time for a youth-service….I was somewhat loath to leave….which seems like the most contradictory thing in the universe.

After 5 straight days dedicated to outward-looking ministry, and to strong themes of spreading the Gospel and not hogging our own baptism and keeping it to ourselves….I wanted to stay in the nice warm, positive, team building cocoon of the Lamplighter Inn.

By the time we started the youth service at Weldon Park in Arva though, I found myself caught up in the infectious joy, praise and sense of fun that only younger generations can bring :).

Beyond all of that though, I found myself inspired and outright astonished by the talent, dedication, and passion lived out by the kids I am honoured to work with 🙂

It really brought home to me the importance of coming back down from the mountain…of weathering the storms of doubt, exhaustion, and pessimism….because maybe……just maybe….the world can surprise us too. +

Morning Prayer: January 10th


Psalms: 1, 2, 3
Old Testament: Isaiah 40:12-22
New Testament: Ephesians 1:1-14

Pretty much how I looked this morning getting up

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
I am not afraid of tens of thousands of people
who have set (Psalm 3:5-6)

I totally slept in this morning…..hence the later post time :P….

But as I read today’s Psalm portions I was struck by a thought……what gets us moving in the morning???? What motivates us to make it through the day?

For myself–who is currently unemployed and waiting on the Diocese–one of the reasons I get up is to pray and do this blog lol :P……Sounds cheesy I know…..but it gives me something constructive to do while in the “in-between” stages of ministry.

Another thing that keeps me going is involvement in my parish life at St. Jude’s…..While I am not directly involved in many of the committees, the rector and congregation have allowed me to sit it on meetings and learn from their process 🙂

Also….(and I need to catch up on this very soon..I like to visit Kensington Village retirement home and visit with the residents. :). Sadly, I have not gone since before the holidays and my inner procrastinator keeps putting it off :P.

In all of this though, God is guiding me. I seriously don’t know what’s going to be happening in the next couple months….but I have to travel in faith that things will work themselves out. 🙂 It’s not an easy task, but one that is slowly teaching me patience.

So I leave the question with you…….what keeps you going in the morning? What are you passionate about??? What is the ministry to which God has called you? +

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