for those who don't want to just wait it out

like the song says this is a blog for someone who wants to say something (anything) and who's happy to wait and see what time will bring...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

O week shenanigans...

It has been an incredible couple of days with Credo and around UTS. This is usually the time of year that the staff refer to as 'sprint time' in the marathon of the year. There will always be times in a marathon that you need to push a little harder and a little faster - where everything seems to be in a bit of a blur but it's vital to keep our eyes on the goal! Hopefully that might give you a little idea of the last few weeks.

Many of you would know about staff/student retreats that we've been on in the last month and much of that time away has been focused on planning for what we've been doing on campus in the last 48 hrs. For those without a uni background, it has been "Orientation" /O Day for the first years students at UTS where the main tower has been awash with a lot of stalls from various student groups/societies or companies that want to get the students business.

Each year we wonder how many contacts we'll get - which first years will either stumble upon our stall or (more encouragingly!) seek us out and give us their contact details to follow up. Last year we had 85 contacts (which we were excited by) and this year we were praying for 100. So it was with a little trepidation that I walked onto campus for O Day (on Thursday) with the rain coming down. In my cynicism I was pretty sure that it would mean that less people would turn up and therefore less contacts for us... oh the folly of under-estimating how much God wants to answer our prayers! We has an unprecedented 125 students give us their contact details because they're either interested in knowing more about Credo or want to join a small bible study group.

One of the ways that we made some contacts, and made some 1st years feel welcomed was to run the "Credo Cafe" for the first time where people could come and grab a (rather expertly made) coffee and some baked goodies and just chat with people. It was a huge hit and most of the comments that I heard from strangers were along the lines of "this is so nice!" or "I'm surprised that people do this sort of thing". It was great to see that many newcomers felt welcomed enough to hang around long after they'd gotten their free coffee and were able to ask questions of the Credoites who were there and happy to chat.

As Paul reminded us last night, it is of course no coincidence (nor should I have been surprised) that O Day was such a success and that we had so many contacts this year because for the first time this year we had a constant day of prayer. Just near Credo 'Base Camp' (where we did a whole lot of admin etc) there was a room that we set aside and had a roster so that, literally, from 830am - 5pm the was continuous prayer for new students, new contacts, thinking about the Credo community as a whole, praying for individual names as we were given them as well as praying for the faculty networks that they would grow together as a group but also that they would be outward focused in their relationships. Thanks to all of you who were praying for us as well.

Out of everything though, one of the thing that excited me so much was seeing the ownership that the Credoites were taking throughout the day as they worked so hard, but with so much energy and delight in what they were doing in their various jobs. It was so encouraging to see their passion for connecting with and reaching out to new people and for the opportunities that they took to just walk up to complete strangers and just start talking to them; whether it was about campus, credo or Christ.

If yesterday was about contacts and meeting people, then today was all about thinking about how to care for them as we love each other as a body. As I mentioned in my last post I've been thinking through, and this morning spoke from 1 Cor 12:12-27 to look at how this shapes how we are to be treating and looking out for one another. As I did some reflecting (and as others helped me with some of their ideas!) it occurred to me that the Corinthian world is much like our facebook world of today. What matters in facebook world is how others see me, who has the best profile pic, do i have more friends than them, can I join that group... etc etc - and although facebook can feel like a community at times, it's really a false one because there's very little accountability (I can even stop being 'friends' with someone without their knowledge!). The world believes in community as long as it is convenient – we believe in community in a way that reflects our commitment to Christ and to each other.

What Paul tells the Corinthians, and us, is that we need to be completely counter cultural and to see the 'weaker' as worthy of more honour/attention and to cultivate and encourage the different roles, gifts and abilities that we have because we all need one another. Paul uses a lot of 'body' imagery and speaks about how a body is supposed to function. It struck a cord with me because of my addiction to the "Biggest Loser" TV show. Here you see people competing to lose weight because although their bodies are technically 'functioning' they're not necessarily healthy and their definitely not thriving. As one of the trainers, Shannan, said in the first episode here are a group of people who are broken, physically, emotionally and spiritually and who need to be rebuilt from the inside out. Its exactly the same for us as a community and it's the radical nature of the love that Paul describes in 1 Cor 13 that is going to help us do it. Well, that, the Spirit and God! (1 Cor 12:7, 24-25).

I don't know what this year has in store for us on campus - no one but God does. And yet I feel like we're starting on a great track because our goal is to be transformed and renewed by the radical love that Christ enable us to have for one another. And that's something to be pretty darn optimistic about isn't it?


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