August bank holiday weekend, 9 young people bundled into a borrowed mini bus and noisily made their way to Kettering, for Frodsham Methodist Church’s third annual trip to Greenbelt festival.
On entrance we received our non-plastic wrist bands (the whole festival attempts to be plastic-free) and then chugged our belongings across the field to set up camp. We were very glad that it wasn’t raining this year, in fact it turned out to be one of the hottest weekends on record.
After set up, we went to explore the festival area and eye up the food. The site looked amazing with extra venues and a huge variety of food outlets: pancakes, potato wedges, pizza, chips, doughnuts, sweets, Chocolate Brownies ... so many to choose from. Like any other festival, Greenbelt is a bustle of vibrancy, energy, noise, and great sound and visuals. However Greenbelt is unique in its focus on ‘arts, justice and faith’. So the line up was an eclectic mix of Russell Brand, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Nadia Boltz Weber, Lucy Sproggon, John Bell and award winning comedians such as Harry and Chris. We particularly enjoyed the silent discos.
Sunday Morning, we all got up early so we could sit together for the communion service. This took place in a Big Marquee in scorching August heat; the theme was Christmas! There were party games, live camels, Christmas jumpers, carols. Worship was provided by a DJ and drummer, which divided opinions among the group. We then united as we shared communion together.
The organisers describe the festival as ‘somewhere that welcomes anyone and everyone, where punks meet priests, debate meets Dancefloor and belief meets beats: somewhere to believe in’. There was definitely a great sense of community, inclusivity and warmth. We came away feeling inspired by what humans are capable of when they come together and feeling empowered that we can be people who make a difference. A very big thank you to Andrew Ellams who stepped in as an extra youth leader at the last minute and to Frodsham Scouts who allowed us to use their minibus, we are very grateful.
As I approach Christmas and contemplate Christmas dinners and the odd mince pie or two (hundred) I will stare anxiously at my waistline! In the New Year that follows, new or renewed gym memberships will spike as many of us resolve to get fit for 2020. Rightly so! Christian faith teaches us that our bodies matter. In Genesis, God creates them and declares them to be not just good but “very good”. When our bodies don’t work as they once did or when we become poorly, it is not what God had in mind.
Christmas teaches us that God takes on our body and becomes fully human; that amazing fusion of body and spirit that is our true humanity. At very least all of this inspires me to take the dog on longer walks! I know that for those who exercise regularly, if they don’t get exercise they begin to crave it. They long to “feel the burn” of a good workout.
Medical science teaches us that our wellbeing and health is improved with regular exercise. The odd walk once a month won’t make any difference but regular exercise will.
If that is true of our physical bodies, it is also true of our spiritual life.
Over the last eleven weeks at our 09:30Live! and 10.45 services we’ve been exploring the “Holy Habits” of the early church as recorded in Acts 2: 42-47.
You can see the ten Holy Habits in the pictures opposite. Just as our bodies need exercise to be healthy, so does our spiritual life. Those of us who exercise the Holy Habits regularly know the need to engage in all of them regularly.
I wonder if we recognise this?
Do we crave the exercise of the Holy Habits?
Do we long to “feel the burn” in our lives?
Rev'd. Andrew M. Emison
Written by the Minister & Members