By the time you read this the summer holidays will be almost over and the children preparing to go back to school. I hope you all managed some time together with those you love and are feeling refreshed - although,
in reality, those of you who care for young children over the
holidays probably need another holiday just to get over it!!
I realised when I looked back over my previous offerings in PAX, that I often mention things that have happened on my own holidays. This doesn’t help diminish my churchwarden, Michael Hooper’s, frequent jibe that ‘you’re always on holiday’ (rich, coming from him!) and this month is no exception although I feel I ought to put the record straight and say that I only take the usual amount of holiday, I just tend to do it over a short space of time!
My latest escapade was what I like to call a ‘working holiday’ - ok, it was more holiday than work, I admit but it did take me out of my comfort zone in more ways than one! I went to a Christian Festival called New Wine held on the Bath and West Showground in Somerset. Now if you are thinking that a ‘Christian Festival’ sounds a bit like church-speak for a handful of nice people sat around a CD player knitting squares for patchwork blankets and drinking Horlicks then you are about as far off the mark as you can get!! The people were nice actually - but there were about 25,000 of them and although there could possibly have been some who knitted, I didn’t spot any!
I have been to New Wine before but I have always taken the ‘soft option’ and booked myself into a B & B just up the road but this time, I took the bull by the horns and joined the majority of people in camping - yes, camping! Now I know there are people who love camping but as someone who’s only previous experiences of camping have involved vast amounts of rain and a soggy sleeping bag, I’m not a great fan so I did set off with some trepidation.
It was certainly ‘interesting’ camping with such a large number of people, quite cosy at times and rather odd to find myself brushing my teeth next to someone wearing a nightie and wellies. Some things never change though and there was again a vast amount of rain. However tents have improved somewhat and I did at least stay dry! I also learned that driving rain, gale force winds and a heavy framed gazebo next to your tent require plenty of guy ropes, upper body strength and many uttered prayers if disaster is to be avoided!!
The New Wine week is pretty full-on with something for absolutely everyone, different styles of worship, over 30 seminars to choose from each day, activities for children of all ages, crafts, food halls and a market place. There was far too much going on to do it justice in a few words so you’ll just have to google it if you’re interested!
For me, I loved being challenged by the seminars I attended. It was inspiring to hear some of the speakers and how their faith is lived out in everyday life and enriching to listen and learn from discussions on a vast range of topics. But the thing that struck me most was the worship. Morning and evening we all came together to worship God, all 25,000 of us! 25,000 people singing and praying together is a powerful experience, it makes you realise that you are just one of many, it gives you a sense of how great God is and just how much we are in need of other people on our journey of faith. Too often we try to figure things out for ourselves when what we need most is to share our thoughts and feelings with others and wrestle it through together. Anyway, I learned a lot, gained some inspiration and motivation and have returned home recharged and enthusiastic so it was definitely worth a few nights in a tent!!
Next month you’ll have a break from my ramblings as Howell Davies will be sharing his (rather more interesting) words of wisdom with you because I will be - yes, you guessed it - on holiday again!!!
With love - Ginni