Oops. I can’t believe it has been so long! Well here’s a bit of a summary
1. That Outline of “Cheers 24” which I described on the last update has streamlined into “S.U.P.P.E.R.”
S – socialize.
U – Understand (the adults and teens chat about the Bible-based community issue.)
P – Play (the same issue is dealt with at primary school level, with the adults joining in the active learning methods.)
P – Pray (together all ages do some kind of prayer / art / contemplative / nature-based / music, whatever suits best.)
E – Events (neighborhood news.)
R – Restaurant (we eat – normally a BBQ.)
(s) – Sort out the mess (we get the kids to tidy their toys too, so as to learn responsibility & respect for others.)
Numbers have stayed about the same since last post. Cheers 13 is still the driver for most activity in the community. Cheers 24 is as described above. Relationships have been growing stronger in the community.
2. Although having said that, it’s not always rosy. We’ve had to argue and get noses out of joint last month. One family wanted Cheers 24 (the meeting to learn community development skills explicitly from the Bible so our kids learn where we get our inspiration from) to become much more pluralistically based. Comments were made like “closed-minded,” “Bible is out-dated, & superceded,” “we are all imperfect buds on a perfect garland.” So I had to defend the ground Cheers stands on.
We had email discussions, and finally I sat at their table about it. I said that Cheers can happily make other times and spaces to hear anyone’s various worldviews in an open environment, but Cheers 24 was not the place, as we already had specified that C24 was to make explicit Cheers’ Biblical base. Further, I had to explain what I see to be pluralism’s fatal flaw: that if we simplistically accept all viewpoints as equally fine, then we remove any motive for people to change, grow, develop. (That’s important if you need to re-read it.) At Cheers we want to discern what are the best, most life-giving ways to live. We’ll discuss that vulnerably, but looking for the better Way, not merely sanctioning all ways.
That family is still keeping its distance from us for the moment, but I’m sure the right circumstance will bring us back into more regular contact.
3. Contrastingly, we’ve been having a wonderful time with 7 other people from 3 families who are coming to our house every week or so for Special Interest chats on the basics of who Jesus is and what the Big Deal is. When we got to the Resurrection, one guy squinted and said, “if that’s true, then that really changes everything.” That gives you an idea how great it’s going.
4. Last week we had the Banksia Grove Family Camp. Fri Sept 31 – Wed Oct 5. Down at Camp Geographe, SU’s Busselton beachside youth campsite. 6 Families, 3 not naming themselves as particularly Christian. A better camp than last year. 10 adults & 18 kids. Family-together activities for all ages in the mornings, followed by a local excursion before and for lunch, afternoons free, then after dinner, kids activity & bed, followed by adult chat sessions. These ended up in 4 parts: a round of the game “Outburst,” some weird science that points towards God, 2 adults’ stories of life before and leading to Banksia Grove, and Community development skills/issues. Net result of camp was that families know each other much better, they intend to be more community involved, and there’s even greater excitement about the Special Interest meetings on the basics of the faith.
5. We had a tragedy a month or two ago: a fatal hit & run. The deceased mum left behind 3 kids and a hubby who wasn’t really that ready for all the kids needs on top of work. They had only moved into the area 3 weeks before. So we were able to engage the residents’ association and various sponsors around the suburb to do a “Backyard Blitz” for the newly single-dad. That happened just last weekend. Everything is now set for the lawn to be rolled on later this week.
6. So yesterday (Sunday) we had a quieter Cheers 24. But 2 wonderful things happened. We were looking at empathy, had discussed how Jesus more than anyone can empathise with us having born all sins on himself. But the topic went to pastoral empathy, and permission to grieve, and suddenly one person felt free enough to open up their present issue. We were mobile enough & able to stop the program, and practice empathy (better than any lesson.) I love that flexibility about Cheers.
The second wonderful thing was during some time I spent with the kids, while the “adult empathy prac” was happening. I asked kids to say what they’d like prayer for, and then for the others to try to name what each person might be feeling about their situations. Some really deep stuff came popping out in that safe environment. Some very special moments.
So that brings us up to October. Carols is the next big project coming soon, but meanwhile and around that, there’s lots of glimmers of God that we actually need to see and engage with, in our little town.
Lots of love,