Modern Theology, Jan 2007
are youthworkers too expensive or too cheap?

far I have come, far I must go

The following piece of liturgy below was written by jenny baker back in september 05 for a grace service (you can find it here, along with the rest of the service plan). the refrain 'far I have come, far I must go' has been running round my head ever since, resurfacing at key points over the last year. It resurfaced tonight as I lay in bed, a few hours after a challenging bunyan elders meeting. It feels as a church, and in my life, that God has brought us to a liminal place, where God is asking us to trust him.

We are creatures of comfort.
We like to be safe and secure
to be surrounded by what we know
to be in control
to order our lives in the way that suits us.

We want our journeys mapped out for us
itinerary decided, tickets booked
time of arrival guaranteed
refreshment breaks at regular intervals
and a credit card for unforeseen circumstances.

But Jesus said ‘follow me’ without saying where he was going
just promising transformation along the way.

The Israelites in the desert, rescued from slavery and oppression,
were tired and homeless, hungry and thirsty, insecure and unsettled.
And their minds went back to what they had known.
They yearned for the structure of predictable slavery rather than the broken walls of unknown freedom.

Liminal space is the place of inbetweenness, of insecurity.
It is the Israelites in the wilderness,
it is Paul blind in Damascus waiting for Ananias.
Liminal space is emptiness and nowhere,
it is uncertainty and chaos,
it is a place of discomfort and unrest.
Liminality is a place of dying and rebirth, of metamorphosis, the place where the caterpillar spins its cocoon and disappears from view.

Nothing good or creative emerges from business as usual. Much of the work of God is to get people into liminal space and to keep them there long enough so they can learn something essential.

This is the invitation of God, to move
- from comfort to insecurity
- from what we know to what we have yet to discover
- from what we are good at to what we might fail at
- from safety to a place of risk

God of broken people and broken places
We confess to you our love of comfort,
of the known and predictable,
of the safe and secure.
We recognise that you call us into liminal space
To leave what we know and venture with you into desert and wilderness, into blindness and discomfort
We want to follow you, but it’s hard to leave what we know
Help us to trust you, and to set out.

On the journey of faith,
Far I have come, far I must go

God of broken people and broken places
We thank you for all that Bunyan has been to us and to many others
We thank you for the space to listen, to grow, to create, to be challenged
We recognise that you are calling us on
To leave what we know and venture with you into new things, into engagement and participation, into creativity and risk, into new structures and opportunities
We want to follow you, but it’s hard to leave what we know and we’re not sure where we’re going
Help us to trust you, and to set out.

On the journey of faith,
Far we have come, far we must go.

God of rebuilt people and rebuilt places
You have plans for deserts and wilderness
‘Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
The thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
Grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.’

God of transformation we look forward to what you will do
With our lives and with Bunyan

On the journey of faith,
Far we have come, far we must go.



Andy - thanks for posting this I feel in a very liminal space at the moment!

Charles Cameron

In introducing a series of Bible Reading Notes, covering the whole of Scripture (see my blog), I used the idea of a journey - 'Welcome to an exciting three-year journey of discovery. On this journey, you will visit places you know well. You will also travel to places you hardly know at all. There will be places of blessing - places where you will meet with God and be blessed by Him ... May God bless you richly as you journey with Him to the many places of blessing found in His Word' (This quotation is not from the blog. It's from an earlier printed version). Our journey often seems like a 'long and winding road'. Nevertheless, we rejoice in this - the God of grace is leading us home, to Himself.

chris woollett

Hi andy,

remember me from the good old Kings days. Was, for some reason surfing the net for pics of Colin Gunton and came across your site. Very impressed! Great to see all you're doing-is this occupational or recreational? I am married (as you know) with 2 children: Amelia and Oliver, 3 and 1 and am a qualified teacher, teaching RE at a C of E secondary school in Tunbridge Wells.
What's your story?

andy goodliff

Good to hear from you chris. I'm currently a part time youthworker in stevenage and part time NQT RE teacher. I'm married to hannah. The blog's a bit fun, a place to connect poeple in to the likes of gunton and to think about church and stuff. Glad you're doing well and putting that theology degree in to practice.

Jim Gordon

Hi Andy

I am slowly making my way through Eliot's Four Quartets, and the couplet "Far I have come, far I must go" has the same underlying ambiguities that make Eliot so satisfying in these four poems. No cheaply bought certainties, no specific directions other than that of not standing still. And a sense of inner compulsion, even impulsion, "far I MUST go". May God precede your going, wherever that is to be for you and your fellowship.

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