Spent an amazing day yesterday with youth and childrens ministry colleagues from all over our Diocese organised by the youth and childrens adviser. In the glorious sunshine and the amazing countryside of our venue, we took the opportunity both corporately and individually to meet with God and reflect.The scripture chosen for us to reflect on was that of the Transfiguration from Matthews Gospel. I went and found an amazing, solitary tree in a meadow, layed a blanket down and spent time reading the Scripture to see what jumped out at me. When I read the Message version I was drawn fairly quickly to verse 4. The disciples are renound for getting things wrong but on this occassion, Peter takes the time to remove one foot from his mouth in order to insert the other. His initial identification of the situation is absolutely right “Master, this is a great moment!”, but then he jumps off the preverbial cliff by suggesting “What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah?” The Message translation is an amazing mix of missing the point and real insight and the beginning of verse 5 hits the nail squarely on the head “While he (Peter) was going on like this, babbling…”. The scripture made me think about the tree I was lying next to. When you cut a tree down, you can see the way it marks its time with pattern of rings it creates. However it doesnt rest on its laurels, it continues to build and grow.
God reminded me of the “cairn” an ancient way of marking the site of a significant event with a pile of stones as a memorial. God said to me that too often when the “great moments” come along we celebrate them and then continue to almost idolise and worship them. God said that these moments should be celebrated, but in the same way as the rings in the tree, they are not cairns, they are the building blocks and the steps on to a greater level with God.
We do this in church and youth ministry don’t we? We have these amazing moments of closeness with God, tangible moments of clarity with the Holy Spirit and instead of celebrating them and using them as a springboard, we try to recreate them, becoming afraid that we are defeated and peeked. God doesnt want us to feel this way, he wants us to engage with him in ever closer ways, and this is what our programmes and relational encounters should be aimed at, and instead so often they become memorials and vain attempts to reach the heights we once encountered.
I write this today not from a position of having it all together, but from a place of being challenged by it just as I hope you are. As churches and youth ministers, we need to humbly look again at our programmes, and discuss with our teams whether what we do is building on the legacy of the past or trying to recreate the spiritual highs. How do we build steps not cairns? Simple. We come before God and ask Him to show us what to take from these incredible moments and how to build on them.
I pray that you continue to strive for the height of Gods will for your ministry and those you serve, I pray that you use the moments of clarity God gives you to do this, and I pray that you find time as I have recently to meet with Him and have Him speak new truth over your work and ministry.