I struggled to connect with the morning Bible Teaching session here at Spring Harvest yesterday. Marilyn and I were watching on the chalet television so we simply turned it off. Others, including our son Nick and daughter-in-law Anna, were trapped in their seats in the Big Top and couldn’t escape. While I am certain that many will have connected, we didn’t.
Nick and I then went to ‘Engage More’ in the Big Top. This was led by Cris Rogers, who wrote the Theme Guide this year, and by Tania Bright. Cris is a trendy vicar at a church in London. Tania is a lady I would travel the world to hear speak. Cris and Tania immediately connected, seemingly with everyone present. How? Through laughter and honesty, opening up their own lives and sharing their life lessons, which resonated with the subject matter of a closer relationship with God. It was good to laugh, but it was more important to come close to God.
Laughter was on the menu after lunch when Marilyn and I went over to watch the sport. Daughter Beth is part of the Sport Team so was there in an official capacity. She also played a few Five-Aside football matches and some basketball. Youngest son John was playing in football and basketball teams too. Even Nick played a couple of games of basketball despite having an injured hand. Most of the laughter was down to the good-hearted banter. Competition was involved – everyone wants to win at least one match, but the ability to laugh is equally if not more important. If God was faced with a choice of being just one place yesterday afternoon I think He may well have chosen to be at the Five-Aside where I am sure He would have been blessed by listening to both the banter and the laughter. Sometimes we are just too serious.
Serious was not the theme of the alternative celebration we went to in the evening, but the folk there were definitely more serious than those at the football. The place was packed. Cathy Burton did a great job leading worship, but while there wasn’t any laughter I think I noticed some joy. The alternative celebration appears to have replaced the 18-30s sessions we used to attend in the same venue. In fact there is no 18-30s celebration in the evening this year. Marilyn and I often attended these sessions despite being in our late fifties. We enjoyed the informality and the spontaneity, plus it was refreshing to worship with (young) people who smiled and openly displayed the joy of knowing God.
I wrote yesterday about annoying Christians. Today I think I am more concerned about Christians who don’t laugh or openly display the joy of knowing God on their faces. That is a challenge for me too. There are thousands of us here at Spring Harvest. How many of us are truly filled with joy and showing it on our faces? My concern is also about the noticeably absent 18-30s. If Spring Harvest have dropped the evening celebration for this age group then shouldn’t we asking where they are, why they are missing and what we are going to do about it? If we don’t then there might not be a Spring Harvest for any of us in the future.
Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. (2 Samuel 6: 14-15 NIV)