Thank you for bearing with my absence while I was on holiday.
I went away with B & Small (& many other members of my family) to a christian festival called New Wine in Shepton Mallet.
We were unlucky enough to have scheduled the only week so far this summer with rain & thunderstorms but thankfully there was enough dry weather & sunshine not to ruin the holiday for us.
New Wine is a festival that I have been going to for about 17 years now, it is so much fun & a brilliant place to escape the world for a little bit & find yourself again.
I am lucky that B will happily come even though he wouldn’t necessarily consider himself a christian.
The festival consists of two services a day, one in the morning & one in the evening.
During the day there are seminars that you can attend should you wish, these can be about anything from Marriage, Creation, Science, Theology, Parenting or Healing. The list is extensive & there is always something for everyone wherever you may be in your faith.
As this is not B’s first choice for a holiday we have reached a compromise. I go to the morning & evening services (sometimes I’ll take Small with me) & then during the day we go out in Somerset & do things together as a family.
B did come to one of the evening services during the week which was well timed as it was when The Rend Collective were playing. The Rend Collective describe themselves as:
“….an eclectic collective of multi-instrumentalists from the North of Ireland. An inherent desire for something spiritually substantive in our increasingly artificial world is exactly what brought the movement of friends together. United by a common purpose, these twenty-somethings began exploring the intersection between God, life and community.”
Quote taken from the Rend Collective Experiment website.
Their music has a folk style to it but was very up beat & great to dance to. Small really enjoyed dancing with us!
This year the Archbishop of Canterbury visited. It was great to hear from him directly rather than what the media reports he has said. He came across as a genuinely normal man who wants to see a change in the church for the better.
One of the seminars this year was a live interview with the Archbishop which was very interesting. I wasn’t able to hear it live as I was off site with B & Small at the time but I have listened to it since as it is available to hear on the New Wine website here.
You learn a bit about his background, his daily habits & his philosophy. I have great hopes for him & pray that he can turn around the perception people have of the Church of England being out of touch. (Which in some ways they are but I believe that he isn’t.)
I have to say that for me, going to New Wine refreshes my faith. I haven’t yet found a church to go to where I live & so throughout the year I miss having the support that a church provides. I doubt what I believe in, I worry that others are judging me based on what they assume a ‘christian’ is like. I am definitely guilty of hiding what I believe in to fit in but New Wine strengthens me.
This year we saw God move over us & heal people from life long injuries which was brilliant. I have to admit to struggling a little when God heals people as they are often people I do not know so the extent of their injury by passes me & so therefore does their healing from it. But seeing the reaction of the people they do know to their healing is wonderful to see.
Of course when things like this do happen it often tempts the questions “Why don’t you help me?” or “Why don’t you heal so & so?” This is when it can feel like our faith is being tested. It probably sounds too clique to say that God has a plan for each of us, but he does & where it may be time to heal or help one person it may not yet be your time.
This situation can feel so very frustrating & it would be easy to stamp our feet like a toddler & have a tantrum! In the end God is like our parent, he knows more than we do & the timing required.
Coming back home from New Wine can feel like you’re coming down from a week long high. Life can seem boring in comparison to the joy & excitement you can feel spending a week in the presence of God. (Plus going back to work after a holiday is never much fun!) The challenge is to keep hold of that joy & excitement & push forward with a close relationship with God. Obviously it is very easy to let everyday life & stresses get in the way & I hope that throughout this year I will be able to find time to nurture my relationship with God.