Unsurprisingly suprised - Jesus Army Life, Day168

Last night we had a good time. Overloaded with teenagers yet again (our Thursday cook is quite used to the random numbers by now), I led the extended grace time with a reading of Aslan's resurrection in the Narnia book: 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'. While most of the younger ones had seen the film there was a look of surprise on their faces to think that the story carried a Christian theme. And a sister led us in an upbeat song celebrating Jesus in our lives.

Personally, I'm learning more and more to think like a teenager again. I can't say I do a great job but I have many moments of remembering that I used to act and think the same way. At their age I must have heard the gospel too many times to count but I had never tuned in. So their surprise wasn't really too surprising. What counts, and what worked with me, is the amazing work of the Holy Spirit, so and we have to be ready, and ready with every opportunity to explain why we hope in Jesus.

After dinner (and a short word with one of the young lads about why we weren't surprised by his sex and drugs language, but expected him to speak respectfully all the same), another leader gathered everyone under 25 together to explain: "the cause of the cross". His message was simple but revolutionary: if we want to follow Jesus we have to let the cross work in our lives too. He explained that the work of Jesus' death and life had the power to bring necessary change, nothing else really effects such change on an individual level. He invited us to declare what we were going to "put on the cross" and receive the red cross each Jesus Army member wears in return (a red cross for blood, red for fire, red for revolution). In it's own way it was a powerful and sacramental time. For me, there is a need to bury my pride, my self-will and independence if I am to truly follow Jesus and so I joined with the others in receiving my cross.

Following this there was a bonfire in the snow and then we took the teenagers home. I don't know if it's good to say this, but we've become quite good at managing the weekly melee of youth that visits White Stone on Thursday nights. We're learning to expect the unexpected - after all, real living can only take place in the presence of an unpredictable God who promises to mess up our lives and replace the mess with himself. Perhaps God is teaching us too to be spiritual mothers and fathers, and mothers and fathers of other households in time to come.

Returning from the 40 minute tour of teenagers homes it felt good to relax in adult company. Many of the older visitors were still there and were giving a certain elder a ribbing about wearing marigolds to throw snowballs (for the fifth time this week), there was a lot of joking and friendship around. Spending time in the companionship of peers allows us a vulnerability we can't explore in the presence of the younger ones. Obviously, we still have a lot of growing up to do ourselves.