We returned from Spring Harvest on Good Friday and are now out of the bubble for another year. Spring Harvest 2017 prompted three blog posts. Two of those posts might suggest that I spent most of my time at Spring Harvest getting annoyed with other Christians. I have to admit that my tolerance was tested by the usual stuff such as queue jumping, and large coats over the backs of seats severely restricting space for those behind. There were a couple of new ones: canoodling during the worship (spotted twice involving two different couples right in front of me) and leaning back in the seat (as if it reclined like an airline seat). The offender in question managed to lean so far back that I had little space to take notes. I wanted to poke my pen into his ear but resisted the temptation. He also happened to be one of the canoodlers! I should have said something but didn’t. We Christians don’t. Instead we scuttle off and complain to anyone who will listen. Then there was the general misery that seemed to be exhibited by Spring Harvesters outside of the Big Top. St. Augustine is reported to have said that ‘Christians should be an alleluia from head to foot.’ It is just as well that Augustine wasn’t at Spring Harvest.
Apart from being challenged to remove the plank from my own eye, there were other things that I learnt at Spring Harvest. Two that I will never forget are the need for Jesus to be visible in Christians (I think this includes Spring Harvesters) and a lemon squeezing analogy (what do you get when you squeeze Christians?). Both came from Archbishop John Sentamu. In addition to these gems I identified twenty-one other points from the notes that I took that I feel I need to be reminded of periodically. These include:
- “We will never realise what we are until we realise whose we are.” (Cris Rogers in respect of what it means to be a child of God.)
- “Knowing whose we are should change the way we think.” (Cris Rogers)
- “We can’t make the word of Jesus fit our culture. The culture has to come to His word. It is His word – not ours!” (Malcolm Duncan)
- “God is glorified through us when we make Him the centre of our lives.” (Malcolm Duncan)
- “Christianity is a forgiveness movement.” (Archbishop John Sentamu)
- “No Christian is greater than their prayer life.” (Archbishop John Sentamu)
- “Our unity should be like the unity of the three members of the Trinity.” (Malcolm Duncan)
- “Our unity is our message to a fragmented world.” (Pete Greig)
- “Our ministry should flow from the kitchen tables in our homes.” (Pete Greig)
You will see that I have highlighted what the archbishop said about our prayer lives. The problem is that prayer did not seem to feature that much on the Spring Harvest agenda, and as I mentioned in an earlier post only got the briefest of mentions on page forty-four of the theme guide. I did track down the venue for prayer. I might be wrong but I think even the toilets were larger than the prayer venue.
I am guessing that most of us fail miserably in our prayer lives, but if we look carefully at the example set by Jesus we see that everything He did was underwritten by prayer. We know that there were times that Jesus prayed all night. We know that He taught His disciples how to pray. But during one of the morning Bible studies at Spring Harvest this year Malcolm Duncan pointed out that in John 17 we have a record of what Jesus said when He prayed to His Father. I’m reading that passage with new eyes, and it absolutely blows my mind. A written record, as Malcolm Duncan said, of the Second Person of the Trinity speaking with the First Person of the Trinity. And in that prayer He mentions us. Wow!
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! (John 17:20-24 NLT)