Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Real life ministry

Closing in on Day 8 of a 10-day mission at Lancaster University, many of us involved are now beginning to feel a bit weary. Like any CU mission there have been real frustrations and some sadness, but also a whole load of encouragements and joys.

A particular joy today was spending time with Christian students from the English Literature department who put on an evangelistic event dedicated to Biblical motifs in secular literature. I then asked as part of this event to present an overview of the Biblical story to help the students see how these themes work themselves out in Scripture. There were about 20 of us there, nearly half were not Christian. Some fascinating stories and really interesting questions. A great event organised by students who are convinced of the gospel's truth and reality, and who are growing in discerning common grace in literature. I'll try and upload my talk if I get a chance.

It's tempting during a mission week to begin to resent the sacrifices that one has to make. It was really helpful, then, for my own godliness and perspective to study Philippians 1:12-28 with the Cumbria cell leaders this afternoon. It was great chatting about how Paul's view of the gospel isn't that of a religious maniac but of someone who just sees the gospel as it really is. I've blogged about how amazing I consider this passage before, and so I'm now praying that I'll see my time now to serve others with Christ-centred and Christ-empowered ministry and death as gain.

Joys and sorrows, feeling out of one's depth, relying on God's grace to keep persevering: it is real life ministry after all.


Chris said...

that sounds fantastic. I'd love to see what the students came up with as well as what you said.

peterdray said...

It was really interesting. They focused on:

- Direct inversions of Biblical themes, like DH Lawrence's The Man Who Died which presents a radical and inverted version of the resurrection, where Jesus is glorified and becomes truly human through a sexual experience with a Mary Magdalene character called Madeleine;
- Literature that speaks of exile or a return to Eden, like Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim. Also in this category is H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and Jean Rhys's Good Morning Midnight.
- Victorian literature that predominantly seeks to 'redefine' God in the light of Darwin's hypothesis, like Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem Carrion Comfort.

There were also longer sections on Blake, Shakespeare and postmodern literature that draw upon and rewrite biblical narratives (including Coupland's Girlfriend in a Coma and Jeanette Winterson's Oranges are not the Only Fruit, which apparently has chapter titles named after Old Testament books.

catherine said...

Wow - please post your talk - I'm really into that kind of thing - if I got to live 10 lives one of them would be as a Christian lit critic/apologist type girl! I stumbled upon your blog from a link that talked about missions in Lancaster - I'm from Blackburn so I'm always up for knowing what's going on in the Lancashire CU world! I'm an IFES volunteer in Nice at the mo tho. Anyway, post your talk if you get a chance. Praying for the ongoing work among Lancs students - keep at it! Catherine