Living in a Field of Hats

some ramblings and reflections on working with students in Herts and Beds.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning” May 27, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 10:03 pm
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I’m working through Philippians with a friend from church at the moment (though predicted end date is somewhere near to December at this rate..!) but last week we got to the second half of chapter two.

The thing that really struck us both was this verse: “do all things without grumbling or questioning”. For me it was a real challenge as grumbling really is culturally acceptable in the UK. We grumble about the weather, we grumble about public transport, we even grumble about people grumbling! But as Christians we are clearly commanded not to do so. The context here is really key (as always!). Paul has just described exactly what Jesus was willing to lay aside for us – without any grumbling at all – and he’s moving on to talk about what that looks like in everyday life. And the shock I guess. is that he doesn’t say “Look what Jesus did for you – go on and do something good for him”. No, the application is for us to not grumble. Wow. It seems so little and yet as Emily and I started chatting about what not grumbling would mean in our lives it became clear that it would make a huge difference.

Not grumbling about a student being late for a meeting (suprisingly some stereotypes are true!), or grumbling that it’s raining once again really would chage our attitudes to life. But, Paul doesn’t just want us to have a nicer quality of life, he wants us not to grumble so that we will be blameless and pure children of God. Now, that in and of itself isn’t going to make us pure and blameless in God’s eyes, no that’s what Jesus does for us. But, the way in which we live is to reflect the goodness of the gospel.

So that’s my challenge . To not grumble but to rejoice in the goodness and truth of the gospel. Wha t that looks like totally I’m not too sure as I don’t think it means not saying anything negative but actually it’s the attitude behind it. I’ll be trying to work it out so feel free to be anti British and join me – and to point out where my grumbling is still in existence!


It’s not the end of the world May 23, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 6:13 pm
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You may be aware that the world was meant to end this weekend according to Harold Camping. Clearly it didn’t but as Christians there really are some challenges there. Campings followers literally gave up all that they had because they truly believed they would be with Jesus by 6pm Saturday evening. I totally and fully believe that Jesus will come back one day soon and yet many things I hold in a clenched fist desperate to keep hold of it. Ellie has written some really helpful thoughts on this as well.

It’s sad to see the damage that has been done to these people by clearly false teaching, but yet if I truly believe this then why am I so slow to leave everything behind for the sake of Christ?


All I Have is Christ May 17, 2011

Filed under: Conferences — Sarah @ 9:40 am
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One of the real highlights of New Word Alive for me this year was singing with hundreds and thousands of other people from around the UK. One of the songs we sung was “All I Have is Christ” by Jordan Kauflin. I love the words and how they go through from being “lost in darkest night” to praising God for saving us. I came across this video today which shows these things really clearly – and shows the stark potential consequences of it…have a look at it


Strange Spanish Easter Celebrations April 21, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 4:19 pm
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Earlier this week I was in Spain visiting family, and on Monday evening when we were heading home from our disatrous attempt at a pub quiz (in English and we were still poor!) we quite literally bumped into a procession. Below are some pictures from it, do bear in mind that this was 11.30pm and it was very dark!

What looks  like the grim reaper carrying a statue of who we assumed is Mary

Ku Klux Klan look-a-likes!

part of the procession followed by one of three independent bands!

This to us all seemed so bizarre and a little bit scary, like walking into the chamber of secrets or somewhere else a bit freaky, so we asked around it it turns out that this is part of the Spanish celebration of Holy Week (Semana Santa) and each town will do something different to commerate Holy Week. The town we were in had processions like this pretty much every evening this week and of the two we saw I was really shocked by the number of people who turned out and were involved (basically the whole town) and that it was taken so solemnly.

I did some internet research and found out that the pictures above are from the Procesión de los Escapularios which according to google translate means Procession of the scapulars. That didn’t help me too much…so wikipedia … which says “scapular typically consists of two small (usually rectangular) pieces of cloth, wood or laminated paper, a few inches in size which may bear religious images or text. These are joined by two bands of cloth and the wearer places one square on the chest, rests the bands one on each shoulder and lets the second square drop down the back”. Basically it appears to be a variation on a necklace in some ways, but one which the wearer will benefit from certain promises when they die if they are wearing it.

The second procession we saw (Tuesday, after hanging around the town square trying to work out what was happening!) was called Procesión del Traslado, the procession of the transfer. This makes slightly more sense to me as the statues (or more accurately floats as they reminded me of carnival floats we used to have when I was a child!) represented the risen Jesus, Jesus carrying the cross and Jesus on the cross. Being a Catholic celebration there were also two statues of Mary which I don’t fully understand the significance of.

Jesus being carried towards the Roman guards who you can’t quite make out in this picture

people in pointy hats!

Jesus carrying the cross

Mary (AKA Queen Victoria!) on a huge float


It really was amazing to see the whole town come out to celebrate the message of Easter together – in someways it felt like a huge Nativity play but without words – just music and with young and old participating. The real sadness for me though was that there was so much emphasis on Mary. Her statues and the attention paid to her were so much more than to Jesus. Jesus is the one that has dealt with our sin, it is him who has given us the chance to be back in relationship with God – not Mary. She wasn’t God, so wasn’t sinless, she was just another human being used in a very special way by God. In the same way, the preoccupation with scapular and other religious objects is really sad especially in the light of the glory of the gospel – why be tied to a piece of fabric your whole life in the hope of dying whilst wearing it, when we can know right now that through the blood of Jesus on the cross we can be right with God. Because he rose from the dead we can be sure that all he promised is true and have complete certainty – that is so much more better news than anything else the world has to offer!

So, this Easter let’s focus on Him – maybe you never have. Well why not have a look into some of the evidence etc here.

Happy Easter





Grace March 3, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 4:01 pm
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I’ve  been lucky to work alongside some reallygracious people of the last couple of weeks – old and new friends alike and it’s really modelled to me what grace looks like in certain situations. When mission week is not properly planned and things go wrong – what does it look like to love the people involved graciously and not condemn but encourage?

I so quickly forget the goodness of grace and just how boundless and free it is.

Grace is amazing, and I’m really praying that through God’s power I can model salvation by grace alone to the students I work with.


The best job in the world March 2, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 11:00 pm
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So, my good intentions to post twice a week have clearly gone to the home of all good intentions and not materialised…sorry about that!

I’m currently at Bedford CUs mission for the week – what an encouragement it has been. The CU here is small (15 out of 8000 students) but they’ve created such a presence and there’s been so many oppurtunities to speak of Jesus in the last couple of days.

My highlight so far (it’s tough to call as there have been so many!) has been the lunchbars (apologetic lunchtime talks) that have been going on. They’ve been happening in a room that is the only room in the SU which we have sole use of (mainly) which is right in the centre of campus. Each day we;ve had people come along, ask questions and want to think about the message of Jesus. Yesterday we had people coming to peer in the door because they wanted to know what was going on, on campus and had a group of girls stay for 3 hours to discuss Jesus and think what Christianity would mean for them.

The CU has done a remarkable thing here, created community on a campus where there is none. There isn’t a student bar or anywhere on campus for people to socialise and so the CU have managed to create that and proclaim Jesus at the same time.

It’s a real privilege to work alongside these students, to proclaim the gospel of grace to their campus.

I could speak of so much more but right now I’m a little sleep deprived so that’ll come another time! For now, here’s a photo of the CU flyering (well’s artistic!).


Love… February 15, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 10:22 pm
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…is the theme of Queen Maragret CU’s events week which is where I am this week.

I’ve had a real mix of emotions about the week – huge apprehension, unworthiness, not being ready (I really should have listened to the talk I recommended last week again!), but today has been a mix of encouragements. It’s been  great to hang out with other staff from UCCF this week and explore Edinburgh in some afternoon free time, but what’s really got me bizzing tonight is seeing the gospel work and that God chooses to use us. I’ve just been to a brilliant meal with a message with a first year student in halls and had the chance to spend two hours hanging out with his housemates chatting about the gospel and it being true for them. They were so open, yet so hopelessly blind. they could see that the human situation was dire (their own words) in relation to God, but couldn’t quite get that Jesus was the amazing answer. They saw that for Jesus to come back would mean their only chance of relationship with God was over but couldn’t see the need to do something tonight. So encouraging and frustrating in equal measure. I’m really praying that God would open their eyes this week to his amazing truth!

What an awesome God of love we have who gives us encouragements when we need them most and chooses to use us in evangelism!

And all of this after an amazing Cath Kidston-esque tea party this afternoon1 (i tried to upload a picture but the borrowed laptop was having none of it!)