Okay, I’ll admit wild may be a bit of an exaggeration, but last weekend forty eight of us headed for the hills of the Peak District for a weekend away together, and I think that is well deserving of a blog.
We were joined by Marijke Hoek, who led us in teaching and discussion and contemplation, but I was otherwise engaged for two of the sessions, so I will reflect instead on some other aspects of the weekend.
It would be great to hear from some other people who were there, especially about what Marijke brought us, so if you fancy writing something, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I can get it posted here.
If I may begin on a selfish note, this weekend came at a really great time for me. Having only joined Revive a month ago, this was a brilliant opportunity to spend time with the community. I’ve felt at home with Revive ever since my first tentative visit back in May, and Mike and I have felt warmly embraced by everyone since pitching up in September, but it was really good to be able to build on that initial sense of connection. There’s no substitute for time spent climbing tors an improvising bottle openers together!
A particular highlight was spending time with the children and young people, who I’d not seen much of before the weekend. I was really taken by their enthusiasm, as the teenagers threw themselves into the photo challenge I set them, and the little ones created an abundance of plasticine flowers and animals to thank God for. I was also struck by how hard it was at times to keep track of who was related to who, as they all seem to have adopted each other as one extended family, a perfect model of church in action if ever I saw one.
I was impressed too by the inquisitiveness of the little ones, as the announcement that we were about to head back to join everyone for communion led to a host of questions about what it was and why we did it and why Jesus had to die in the first place. I think we’ve all felt our heart sink a little when faced with a big question from a little person, but my prayer for the children is that they never settle for our hesitant replies but keep asking until they find their answer in God.
And I think it was agreed by all that the teenagers did a fantastic job leading communion. Not only were the homemade dough balls and strawberry lemonade absolutely delicious, but sharing them together after praying for one another felt like a real celebration of what it means to be part of the community of God. So I pray for the young people that they continue to live out that communion.
Then to top it all off, the weekend ended with a baptism. Baptisms are always exciting, but I was really moved by the simplicity of this slightly impromptu service. A testimony, a quick dip, a favourite hymn, and a few prayers. All too often we over complicate things, but it’s really about the commitment of the person to be ‘all in’ for God, and the commitment of the church to support them, and that came across so powerfully. Learning that the water had recently been blessed with water from the Jordan, where Jesus himself was baptised, was an extra little gift to remind us all that we follow in the footsteps of the one who lived with us and for us.
So that’s my brief reflection on this past weekend, now it’s over to you…