The benefits of attending the ‘Engage More’ sessions at Spring Harvest are beginning to show. The fact that I have been in the Big Top where Cris Rogers and Tania Bright lead these sessions is written all over my face as I walk out from the Big Top into the Skegness sunshine. The session yesterday morning ended with an invitation to people to come forward and provide a one-minute testimony of what God is doing in their lives. The blessing of those testimonies was palpable. The compassion shown by Cris and Tania provided an additional blessing. How could I not walk out of the Big Top beaming from ear to ear?
I don’t always beam from ear to ear. I wish I did. Sometimes I struggle to raise even an ounce of joy. But the session this morning wasn’t about being a joyful or joy-filled Christian. It was about putting down deep roots into God so that when the storms come we do not get blown over or blown away like tumbleweed.
Yesterday evening Marilyn I attended the Alternative Celebration for the second night in a row. Most of the people at the venue were our age or older. In fact I would estimate that 80% were more than sixty-five years old. A large room full of pensioners and nearly pensioners was not quite what I expected of the word ‘alternative,’ but there was something special about the meeting last night. Joy was evident in a quiet and very British way. I could see it on many faces during the meeting, which was packed to capacity.
Cathy Burton leads worship at the Alternative Celebration. Cathy has a gift of simultaneously tuning into God and into the hearts of those who join with her in worship. I am not ashamed to share that there were tears rolling down my cheeks as we worshipped last night, while the elderly gentleman next to me looked as if he was floating several inches above the floor.
Joy. I can’t help but think that joy has to be the most important part of worshipping God. When God sees joy written in our hearts and all over our faces surely it blesses Him? Does it bless God more to see that joy etched into our lives whatever we face in life? The theme of the teaching yesterday was about putting down strong roots so that we can drink deeply from God in all seasons of our journey.
Kiera Phyo , who was our speaker last night, emphasised that while deep roots are vital to our spiritual well-being, they are also to important others who may need our support, encouragement, and help. But if joy is not part of our identity and witness as followers of Jesus then it is unlikely that our roots will be strong enough to survive the storm, let alone enable or permit us to touch the lives of those around us.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100 NIV)