I just got back in to the house having braved the snow and sleet driving back down Polmuir Road from the church. Well, last week's lovely weather was nice while it lasted!
At Ferryhill Parish Church we were hosting the final event for the Moderator's visit with Aberdeen Presbytery. Rt Rev John Chalmers and Liz spent time this afternoon meeting with young people and youth leaders from a number of churches across the presbytery from ourselves and South Holburn all the way to Bridge of Don St Columba's with folks from Craigiebuckler, Queen's Cross, Midstocket and Trinity Church in-between.
This was a great opportunity for John and Liz to meet with some of the young people and leaders and hear their stories and concerns, and also some of the very positive and creative ways in which churches are responding to the needs of young people. It also gave us a chance to hear from John some of the things he has picked up from other churches across Scotland on his travels and some of the challenges that the church must face as far as communicating with young people using the technology now available to enhance how we encourage young people in their own spiritual journey. As always, it was remarked how much young people today are as much seeking a spiritual dimension in life, but that the organised and institutionalised church as we know it (and love it?!) often does not seem like the place in which young people will find a place to help that spiritual journey. Great challenges here as we try to find ways to reach out and enable that journey for others.
Some of the ideas that came up included offering places of sanctuary and peace, perhaps for young people to come and study away from the loud busy-ness of many homes or as a place for quiet self-guided reflection (something akin to the labyrinths we have offered on a few occasions), to larger gatherings of young people for special events, and more joint working between churches in order to encourage young people.
After some nibbles, pizza and juice (thanks to Lorna Glen and Cheryl Watt), John presented us with a gift. This is one of a trail of doves that he has left in his wake as he and Liz have visited places across the country. We will find a home for it in the coffee shop in the foyer so that you can see it if you are passing, but there is more to it than the simple beauty of a stained glass dove. John shared the story of these doves with us, and this is what is says in the wee leaflet that accompanies the dove:
These art pieces are made out of glass, fragments of broken bottles thrown away or glass destroyed during the Israeli invasion of Bethlehem. Human hands pick them from among the rubble then assembly them together by some of the poorest of the poor in the Bethlehem region at the ICB art workshops. These art pieces tell all about "the hopes and fears of all the years" that people have in Bethlehem today. The broken glass pieces are a sign of the brokenness of our world, and it is also the reason for God to incarnate. Through His incarnation he brought the divine and the human back together, He picked what seems to be worthless and hopeless and transformed it into a beautiful and whole creation. It is this incarnation, which took place here in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, which gives us the strength to continue to look for broken lives and hopes and tro transform them through art into angels and doves and different art pieces, messengers of justice, peace and dignity.