I’m not religious. I have my reasons. Saying that, when my mum was dying, I was on my knees in my bathroom asking God to save her. I wonder how many other people, who like me are not religious, have looked up to the sky’s and said a silent prayer over the past few weeks….. Religion is complicated, I think.
I have an interesting circle of friends and people I keep close. It’s interesting to see, when in times of darkness, who reaches out to you. Once when I was in a very dark place, a handful of people saved me from myself over the course of a few weeks. Each one of those people gave me strength in different ways. I wish I had these kinds of people when I was younger. My life would have been different.
One of those people is the man I refer to as “My vicar mate”. His name is Stefan. He was there for me in a very dark time and even though he knows how I feel about religion, he still came, and he still tried to bring me comfort at my lowest. It still makes me giggle a bit that I have a vicar as a friend. I wonder that in a different world, Stephen was not so different to me. I see something in his eyes, like he knows the paths I have taken. Truly knows.
I asked him a long time ago to write a blog and he said he would. And a few days he sent me this blog. Just like most things lately, thing keep happening for a reason. This blog is needed right now. We must not lose sight of our most vulnerable children and young people. The drugs trade is not on lock down for them…. trust me…. but that is another blog….
I asked him once, why he was bothering with me. We were sat in my living room and I said that it was a waste of his time trying to help me. I was not worth it. He smiled his big friendly smile and said “I will never give up on you, I never give up on this who need me the most, especially those who say they don’t need me at all”. That has always stuck with me
I’m not religious…. but I believe in this man . And it’s a Sunday, so I think he will like it if I publish it in a Sunday. Gods day and all that. May I introduce today’s guest blogger, my friend, Rev Stefan Thomas, Barham Downs and Adisham.
No child is born a bad’un
Vicar, that kid is a bad’un!
What a terrible way for a child to be marked with an off-the-cuff comment and sadly, one I have heard too many times, especially when I was working in a coastal-urban ministry and as a chaplain in secondary education.
There has been a tendency to portray teenagers in a negative fashion, even to demonise them and yet in my experience the majority are wonderful adolescents with their own ways of exploring life and finding their own way; sometimes being guided and often taking risks in all the richness of their expressions and curiosities.
I am reminded about an insurance company TV advert where a woman gets out of her car and by accident drops her groceries. As she is attempting to recover them she is approached by teenagers in hoodies and there is no doubt the advert gives a hint of menace. However and delightfully, they instead help to pick up the food products and there are smiles all round. That in my experience is the reality.
One thing for sure is that children are NOT born bad or to be a bad’un!
Everything in creation is considered to be good and for the benefit of humanity and we who are made in the divine image are noted to be ‘very’ or ‘exceedingly good’ (Genesis 1:31).
Perhaps an easier way of imagining this is that when we are born we are like a blank sheet of paper and our life-picture starts to show a pattern with hopefully a lot of colour to show the joyous experiences upon the way. There will be times when shades of grey creep into the picture when sadness and hurt comes into our lives but that does not make you bad. The bad’un factor is down to those who influence us negatively and criminally, those who know right from wrong but convince that the bad actions (often by coercion and oppression) are easier to take. This leaves us with swathes of blackness overlaying our otherwise colourful life-picture.
The phenomena of ‘County Lines’ and it’s sick gang-riven culture is also symptomatic of the darkness covering the colourful tapestry of our local communities and we are called to be ‘light-bearers’ to bring hope to those caught in this vicious cycle. Where young teens have no father figures in their lives, how can we instead become ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ to them and to accept them rather than to turn our backs on them? We are called to be Good Samaritans (Luke 10:25-37) to reach out into their hidden and vulnerable world; past their tags and postcode identities. It is only then that we can recover lost goodness and to see hope and smiles appearing in their lives, but we know that it’s not that easy to bring about; nevertheless, we aim for our young people to be good’uns.
Perhaps the simplicity of one of Jesus’ messages is the best one in reaching out to the child in all of us, “that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)
You can follow Stefan on Twitter HERE
(Vicars with Twitter…what ever next)