Screwtape (pt 4)

Well, I’m pretty much done. We presented Screwtape and are now going to re-edit the entire thing because, basically, it is jumpy and not quite up to par thanks to my old capture card, which can’t quite do 640×480 at 30fps… Oops. Studio jury went well so I have freedom there. Yay.

  1. Loidith says:

    you'd be interested, so have put it in the my wtisbee' field above. Also, i thought the piece below might interest you as i've mentioned you. God bless and so glad to hear you're well.John Richards30/30/30 Confess your sins, one to another; that you may be healed.' If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us.' Where two or three are gathered together 'Several months ago, a close friend in his 30 s who i meet and pray with regularly invited me to Alcoholics Anonymous, an organisation that he has been involved in as a member and mentor over many years and in several countries. He invited me as a guest to a session that he was speaking at one evening, in a village a few miles outside our town. I have worked face to face with vulnerable young people with complex issues over the last ten years and have heard bits and pieces about AA and had also been struck by a compelling account i had read about an AA meeting in which Phillip Yancey was touched deeply by the spiritual pungency and mutual humility and dependence of the members. As the group convened, the confidentiality rules and format were explained to me and my friend told his fascinating life story of childhood hurt and alienation, steady descent into drugs and dealing, prison, violence, alcoholism and then gradual revelation, repentance, the beginnings of recovery and a slow and purposed walk of deliverance and change via the 12 steps over many years. As he finished and the group thanked him, others began to chip in and contributed from their own lives and experiences, and as they spoke in the little church backroom i was struck by both the incredibly unified diversity of people and the presence of God in the room; folk of all ages, from all backgrounds, at all stages of life, from several countries and every possible walk of life talking nakedly, freely, beautifully, humbly, openly about their own struggles, daily need for change and complete hope in God for redemption. For 45 minutes I literally choked back tears as story after story after story from single mums, mechanics, doctors and lawyers, acknowledged the teller's brokenness, inadequacy, humility and then desire for real change, healing and complete dependence on God and the community for daily progress and indeed survival. I have been involved in different churches in a great diversity of contexts and roles my whole life and that evening I felt such emotions i had never recognised; a deep sense of Gods purpose and significance on me being there coupled with the frustration and sadness that the profoundly spiritual principles i was seeing so freely and simply displayed by people utterly unchurched were so distinctly lacking in the cell groups, meetings and church experiences of so many christians and church communities that i had attended. I felt that God had not only touched and challenged me deeply, but had birthed some purpose that was slowly germinating. Several weeks later, over the course of one week-end, I met completely by chance at a party someone else with whom the subject of AA popped up completely out of the blue, in the context of their frustration with their current church situation, and desire for a greater reality in their own relationships. The day after this, my AA friend told me of his consternation at once again sitting in his church that morning while the speaker described redemptive biblical concepts that could only be learnt or outworked in the context of complete mutual dependence, openness, acceptance and humility. As he looked around the church he described how he felt like standing up and asking how these things were to be fulfilled in what was a middle class, discreet and controlled environment of church conformity. He reminded me of my experience at AA and asked me to consider doing something and to lead in some way and left his thoughts with me. Over the course of the next few days, i felt really stirred and decided clearly that i wanted to do something and that the way forward was to start a community in which we could look to replicate the conditions of AA together and even follow the 12 steps of recovery (that are not actually about alcohol) in a context of complete openness, honesty and mutual dependence. I hoped to experiment with a traditional AA format: 30 minutes of chatting, a 30 minute talk by one member and then 30 minutes of discussion from where we have got our name. As i began to tentatively contact friends and contacts who I thought might be interested and describe the vision i had, i found to my amazement a catalogue of affirmation as time and time again i was told that this was what they had been longing for, praying for, reading about at that very time or had been on their heart and they were desperate to be involved. I assembled a leadership team of 4 of us who met prayerfully and discussed the right venue and format and quickly we had 10 or so men interested. We met initially not really knowing what might happen and sat around drinking cups of tea with no-one really knowing what they were coming to. The group was made up of a real diversity of men both churched and unchurched; from a friend of a friend who has been in prison for the last 18 years to a local church pastoral leader to a newly married friend who had served around the world on the mission field to someone who had never been to church and is a recovering alcoholic. Ten or so men from a great range of backgrounds, all walks of life with differing church affiliations, family situations, experiences and yet the shared desire and hope and commitment for openness, community and a shared process of progress. I began to describe my thoughts and vision and suggested four principles that i felt should be central to what we were doing:Confidentiality; all that was shared in the group would stay in the group and not be shared outside of it.Acceptance; we were here to establish a context in which one another's thoughts, struggles, dilemmas and personalities could and would be accepted and valued regardless of our understanding and agreement. We would seek to maintain unity and encourage and nurture one another at all costs.Non-Disclosure; Though we wanted a context in which people felt they could pour out their hearts and share their deepest struggles, such disclosure was not a requirement for membership and it was fine just to be there and to listen; no-one would be pressured or expected to share unless they felt completely comfortable to do so.Support; we aimed and hoped to be able to support one another and establish a shared interdependence of fellowship; if someone expressed a need, concern or hurt with which they were struggling, then the group and the other individuals would hope and desire to support and encourage and nurture that person in whatever way seemed appropriate and to pray for and support them without setting conditions or demands. Above all i explained my own commitment to the pursuit of ongoing awareness and changethrough openness, brokenness, accountable and real relationships and that these two principles for me were utterly central to the daily outworking of my journey with God. I talked about wanting to be a picture of redemption in my own struggles and redemptive process and how i hoped to be somehowfruitful by living out and sharing these things in my life and in the relationships and people that God has given me despite my numerous ongoing failings and need. I hoped that somehow, the group might be able to incorporate and embody such a process for us all. Without going into detail i can simply say that the floodgates were opened that first night almost immediately and without any hint of requirement, intensely moving and personal stories of suffering, struggles, progress, hope and faith were shared and listened to, tears were shed between us and the beginnings of a community formed. We went far beyond the allotted time, closed in prayer (the prayer below that has become our community prayer), and finally a friend spoke up at the end of our time and said in a voice thick with emotion that he had waited 28 years involved in the church in several countries and numerous settings for a group such as this. We all hugged and left; full of excitement, thankfulness and hope. The group develops and grows throwing up challenges, opportunities, shared tears and an immense amount of intimacy, accountability and laughter. God is gracious and kind to us. We continue to pursue a greater awareness of ourselves and our own need; and then seek to support and encourage one another to change and grow by Gods grace in a context of real-ness as men humbly outworking our redemption in the incredibly diverse circumstances and challenges the 12 of us face. We are resolutely NOT a christian group nor an AA meeting simply because none of us feel any need or desire to label our 12 way relationship as such. We trust that the principles we try to live out to one another afford us our identity and will carry us forward. We are hopeful and expectant and want our lives, families, situations and futures to be impacted by our desire and commitment to the process and one another. We rely wholly on God to lead and protect and change us as we seek Him together. We feel we are putting ourselves in the palm of His hand. We trust that it is a good place to be. Almighty and most merciful Father,we have erred and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep.We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.We have offended against Your holy laws.We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;and we have done those things which we ought not to have done;and there is nothing good in us.O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.Spare those, O God, who confess their faults.Restore those who are penitent; according to Your promises declared unto men in Christ Jesus our Lord.Grant that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life;to the glory of His name. Amen

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