Lent reflections

27Apr11

Lenten Lights

I took this photo at the beginning of a Lenten journey I went on with some friends. Every night we were present in our local pleasure ground, talking, thinking and praying. I didn’t make it every night, but those I did were good.

It was quite hard explaining to people at work that I had not given things up for Lent, rather taken things up!

We were particularly focused on a community project we are involved in Park • Life • Heavitree. One of the tension we have been working through is that while the driving force behind this project are three families that are Christian (in some shape or form*) and lots of Christian friends are interested in the project, we are not doing it to build a church, or even as a platform to evangelise.

The motivation behind the project has emerged through being active users of the Pleasure Ground. We can see the potential benefit for bringing together the community in and around the park through a not-for-profit community café. Our vision is to create a space where people of all backgrounds, ideologies, beliefs or non-beliefs can get a cup of tea or coffee, relax, make new friends and share, because by doing this, we believe we can help the community to grow, to be more resilient and resourceful and help make our little bit of Exeter become an even better place to live.

Trying to find ways to talk about this project, particularly as a follower of Jesus, is hard. The last thing I want is for people to feel tricked or that there is a secret agenda. There is no secret agenda. There is no trickery planned to get park users along to a church. Park • Life • Heavitree is about doing something useful for the pleasure ground and the people who use it. If people want to find out what motivates me (or indeed the rest of the team) then, we will find

Lenten Lantern

ways, to have these conversations. And, I can imagine this being made a lot easier over a cup of coffee! And that is the starting point of our park theology.

On Saturday night, we stood on top of the hill and lit our Lenten lantern (!). Through the previous 45 days we had seen quite a few drift by. There is something about looking into the pleasure ground on a dark night; it looks so dark, yet when you stand in the middle of the darkness, it is actually really light. (Some evenings the pleasure ground was like Piccadilly Circus, but that is another story). We lit the lantern as a symbol of the light that is in the pleasure ground. Just as moths are drawn to a light, so the crowds are drawn to the pleasure ground and the pleasure ground holds all this together like a kind of glue.

So, if you want to stay tuned to out park project make sure you ‘Like’ our Facebook page, and at some point we will have our website sorted out. And if you want to contribute to our ‘park theology’ then please do. We are going to carry on meeting in the pleasure ground once a week.

edit
*point of clarity of the usage of “in some shape or form” and I realise this might be confusing. The point I was trying to make is everyone has an idea what ‘a Christian’ is. So by saying we are Christian might help you to put us in a category and then think that we think a certain way. When people ask me “are you a Christian?” I normally ask them to tell me what they think a Christian is before we go any further… so I used the term “some shape or form” to try and say that we are all in different places on our God journey.

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