One of the wonderful privileges of being a UCCF staff worker is being part of a regional team.
Ever since I was a Relay worker in 04/05 I have loved the team days which take place roughly every 4-6 weeks. Our region does them from lunchtime overnight to the following lunchtime.
Each year a new set of Relay workers arrive on the scene (the current crop are the 5th I have had the pleasure of serving with as a staff worker) and I wonder if I will pine for the previous year. Yet by the end of the September gathering those fears are allayed every time.
That's not because the group of Relays and any new staff are clones of their predecessors but because they all share the same passion, making Jesus known to students and because there is a real desire to love one another rooted in the unity we have in Christ.
We spent the first day getting to know one another with an apprentice style challenge around the town (soon to be city if the council get their way) of Doncaster.
Tasks included; writing a poem or song about Doncaster fitting as many landmarks or things Doncaster is known for into the lyrics, making a costume of a Bible character for under £5 and buying a fixed list of items for as little as possible.
There were 5 tasks in total and off we went in teams of 4 to complete them in around 80mins.
There were some amazing efforts in all departments and it was a great way to settle in and have a laugh as well as enjoy some healthy competition!
During our second day we had the joy of looking at Luke's gospel together, very ably and clearly lead by Arnold Bell from City Church in Sheffield. He took us through some of the themes that are unique, or at least more obvious in Luke when compared with the other synoptic gospels.
Here is a little taster of what we learned:
1. Prayer, The Spirit and Joy as a triplet are an emphasis along with the marginalized, a sense of imperative (Dei is a Greek word used in many places often translated "it is necessary") and also natural incomprehension (people not understanding things).
Jesus is recorded praying more times (9 compared to 2 in other synoptics), He teaches more on prayer in Luke as well as there being more stories/parables about prayer. The gospel open with a flurry of activity of the Holy Spirit. There had been none recorded for over 450 years. Luke wants us to know that a new era is coming. There are many more references.
Luke mentions 13 women who do not appear in other gospel accounts. There are a lot of outcasts of society spoken of, their encounters with Jesus often providing great teaching for us as well as a clear Kingdom priorities. Children too have an important place in Luke's account.
The word "Dei" mentioned above is only used 101 times in the NT and 41 of those appear in Luke and Acts. Jesus uses it when speaking of the need to preach the good news, His suffering that is to come as well as His death.
Disciples as well as the nation of Israel don't understand the mission of Jesus. Jesus is often having to explain. He opens the eyes of those on the road to Emmaus so they can understand because even after the events around Passover, the whole thing still doesn't click!
2. Luke is obviously the only gospel with a sequel. But this is significant in that Luke was travelling with Paul (Col 4:14 and 2 Tim 4:11) and so the events of Acts have already started to take place and so the gospel is written in that context.
3. He says he writes because he thought it would be a good idea for an orderly account to be written. He has investigated thoroughly all of the events that took place and presumably interviewed many eyewitnesses including Mary, Jesus' mother. Finally it is address to one man, Theophilus, and it is so he can be certain of the things he has heard. We too as a result can be sure that all we read about Jesus in the gospel is true!
A helpful thing I noted about the way Jesus doesn't just say "touch me" when He has come back from the dead because you can't communicate an experience to other people, Luke tells us that "beginning with Moses..." Jesus explained how all the Scriptures were about Him. We can communicate the Word of God to people and we need to. We need to speak truth in faith and trust that as we do the Spirit will work and things will happen.
It goes without saying too that great meals as well as copious amounts of quality home cakes were consumed during our 24 hours or so together!!!