Like so many places, Zac’s Place has had to temporarily close its doors as the Covid-19 pandemic impacts our city. Sean Stillman explains what has been going on in recent weeks to see people supported in the city, especially those who rely on us and others like us, to get through each day. He goes on to explain how you can get involved in volunteering in Swansea during these days, and where you can get support. Sean also brings a refection from Mark’s Gospel and Singer Songwriter Phil James closes with a moving hymn, singing in both Welsh & English. The old red door may be temporarily closed, but the work still goes on. #SwanseaTogether
Imagine how different it would have been when the girls rocked up at the tomb, where Jesus’ body lay, to discover the tomb wasn’t empty. And also to discover that neither was it closed up, with a couple of bouncers at the entrance. There’s a third option; I sometimes wonder what the reaction would have been if they’d showed up, saw the stone rolled away and as they peered in; saw Jesus sat on a stone bench. Maybe he would be picking his scabs and making mention of having had ‘a hell of a weekend’ and could they ‘nip down the Seven Eleven to get some paracetamol’. Fully alive, but still sat in the tomb, not daring to venture back out into the world.
As bizarre as this thought may be, the reality is that for many Jesus followers, the tomb, is as far as we dare to live out our faith, naval gazing and scab picking. For many and varied reasons it becomes all too easy to live in a Christian ghetto where life becomes stifled, beige, bland and disconnected with reality. The resurrected Christ walked out of the tomb, back into a kaleidoscope of colours, contradictions and questions – back in the company of his mates and their ‘warts and all’ world – not just watching it walk past his narrow window on the outside. Just as well really.
Got a life? Get walking.
Cheers and God bless ya this Easter time!
Originally written for my personal blog, Sean Stillman
After the success of the initial crowd funding campaign to see the start of John Smith documentary film made, a second phase is currently running to see its completion. If you didn’t get chance to support it before – then please do read on…..Sean
There’s no doubt in my mind about it, this is a film that must be made. If evidence were needed as proof of this man and the associated movement’s influence, you’ll not find it in glass cathedrals and huge congregations of mega churches in fancy suburbs. You’ll find in the countless numbers of individuals who were blown apart by Smithy’s exposition of the scriptures that called us to the margins.
You’ll find the evidence, yes in the likes of many musicians and artists, but also in the lives of pioneers in quiet mission projects all around the world; in slums and in the gutter, in jails, among addicts and among fleeing refugees. You’ll find it in the evidence of people who were challenged to take the words of Jesus seriously and put them into practice believing that you can change the world. Many of them will have been afforded time to talk with John, at festivals and in bars, well into the night long after other speakers had retired to bed.
He’s a peace loving tree hugging hippy and a nightmare to travel with, but also a man who has sought to live by what he preaches and take an uncompromising risk of faith for the cause of the Gospel. I count myself privileged to call him a travelling companion and tribal elder of 25 years. I know there will be many others, who’s stories you won’t read in the media, will say exactly the same.
I think this film needs doing – not just because I want to support a mate – but because I deeply believe the story will resonate with and challenge another generation to come. It will remind this current one of what our responsibility is and why we should not let the fire go out.
Of course, the reality is most of Smithy’s mates have listened to what he said and therefore haven’t got any money! So, it’s just going to mean that we’re all going to have to chip in as best we can! Feel free to join in and just a reminder that if this crowd funding support hits the target, it will help secure the bulk of the grant to make it happen. Read all the blurb on the Pozible Site for more info.
Visits to the Ukraine have always been rich experiences for me. There’s always an air of unpredictability about them.
Back in 2006, I found myself locked in a police station, saw the A&E hospital department after a travelling companion was mowed down by a drunk driver and thought I was eating rat soup! I go there to encourage others, primarily my God’s Squad mates and their connected mission church community, (God’s Garage in Zhytomir), but I always return home richly blessed by them and their community. Their generosity, fortitude, resourcefulness, creativity and faith shine. Even more so on this visit with the dark shadow of what is happening on their borders with Russia. I spoke with guys fresh from the frontline, (still with ringing in their ears from blasts), others whose homes had been obliterated, heading west to safety and many more with a deep fear for what may come. This place and its people have crept into my heart over the years. I continue to pray for them and their nation and also be deeply moved by the work of God’s grace among them.
Here’s a pic with some of our friends there after a gathering at God’s Garage on Sunday. It’s a mission work significantly influenced by our efforts over the years and one that you as friends and supporters of the trust have had a part to play in.
A couple of months back the Guardian were looking for photos of church congregations to be sent in for a web feature. Liz sent the one below in and it made their main feature and prompted a follow up interview along with a couple of other churches covering several topical issues.
… here’s an excerpt from Sean’s interview.
“Often when you peel back all the layers, a lot of what people struggle with is not Christianity but church culture. A lot of the folks I spend my time with say that when they sit in church and look at the front it reminds them of a school assembly or going to court. When they realise what the Christian faith actually is, they discover that it’s not all that monster-like and much closer to what they’ve been looking for the whole time.”