Sunday, 29 March 2009

New Wine

I was pounced on last week and asked if I'd talk about our experiences from New Wine last year, what we got out of it, and why we're going again.

And I said yes, and then I thought something along the lines of ARGH NOOOOO, and then life got a little busy, and I thought things through a little bit and came up with a few reasonably coherent sentences.

And then this morning I was called up, and asked some sensible questions, and I think my answers went something along the lines of "well aha ha ha, it was wet and um wet and um ah really great and we loved it and we're going back and we liked it and it was great and it was great for the children and not just the special stuff for the special needs and it was praise from early morning mad people until late at night and no we didn't really get to know anyone cos it was wet but it can't be that wet this year and um it was great and ah ha yes oh God was there too". And then the ground refused to open up and swallow me, so I attempted to hide myself behind a microphone stand by turning sideways (and those of you who know me will know what a futile effort that would have been), and waited for the two far more coherent chaps to sell the idea properly.

And that would've been that, and I'd have skulked off to the back of the church and sat in my nice safe seat behind a tall man with a voice like a bittern, and hoped never to have had to do that again. But, I have a blog, and some people do actually read it (which still surprises me!), and so for those from church who read this blog - or for those not from church but also considering New Wine this year - here's why you should book up to go.

First, cos they're always good fun - piccies and my posts from NW last year
Part the first - in which we get wet.
Part the second - in which the Youth get wobbly.
Part the third - mud and monkeys.
Part the fourth - Little Fish washes up.

It was a good week. There is a hugely vast programme of seminars, utterly impossible to fit everything in. But if you feel the need to be serious, there's plenty of opportunity. There's also a huge market place with shopping (Mog was happy), coffee and cakes (Tia and Courtney were happy!), and even in an ocean of mud, there was plenty of opportunity to get to know other people from church without the rush.

On a Sunday Morning,, we have coffee between the services. Half an hour, with half an eye on the clock to check the roast, a list of people to pass on different messages to, an equally long queue of people waiting to grab you just for a minute about something terribly important. It's coffee and a biscuit, which is never a bad thing, but it's also rush rush rush and lots of admin. And it's easy to stand on the corner (or in the middle), and be buffetted by boys newly released from the confines of Sunday School and needing to bounce, and to spend the next 15 minutes avoiding giving any child severe scalds (or scolds), and doing very little else.

New Wine is a week of how coffee between the services could be, if time were no object, and if there were no big list of things to do. It's a week of setting aside the busyness. Stopping the doing and just being, just spending time together. Forgetting the lists and focussing on the people. I don't think you can do that in a 30 minute session with the congregation for two services squeezed into one church hall. And in the busy busy lives most of the church members lead, I'm not sure it's something which can happen on a weekly basis, although homegroup, sorry life group comes closer. But New Wine is a place where that can happen. And God's there too, also quite keen on furthering our relationship with Him.

There is a phenominal amount of teaching available. There are seminars from silly o'clock in the morning until stupid o'clock at night. There are serious seminars and lighter ones, series running the whole week and one offs, and some people will fit several in each day, others maybe just one or two the whole week. There are workshops on prayer and bible study and dance and glass painting and just about anything else inbetween. The Our Place team (ministry for the families of children with special needs and disabilities) was wonderful.

We woke up to the distant sounds of early morning worship (I suppose some mad fools really good sound Christians actually went to them, must've done judging by the sounds!), and fell asleep to the beat of the music echoing from the Youth Tent until way past late. And the main worship and teaching sessions, and the main evening events were truly Awesome. God was there too. And doing some quite amazing things.

The girls went off to their own sessions. Little Fish had Mr Bible at her sessions and thought he was seriously cool. A shy three year old, she nevertheless learnt a lot about God in the week - I guess He must have been in their sessions too. Mog started the morning in the mainstream group and then came over to Our Place and had a wonderful time there. All the children prayed over every single day for a week - and the gospel presented in a very simple way. I'm thinking God was probably there too.

Am I convincing anyone yet? Perhaps our little babble this morning might have been more effective. I will say this more though; if you're worried about how you'll cope with camping, consider this: we camp with two wheelchairs, one ventilator, and an unfeasably large amount of medical supplies. We camp with two girls who have difficulty controlling their body temperature, and we camp with a child on a special diet. Oh - the medical facilities on site are excellent too, and they have GPs who hold clinics should you need them. Don't ask us how we know this. If that doesn't convince you that camping is a possibility, consider coming and hiring a caravan. Or staying nearby. Or even just coming along for a single day.

Relationships are important. In a larger church it is easy to get lost. It is very easy to turn up on a Sunday morning, and disappear again until the next week. But we are the body of Christ, and for the body to work effectively, the hand needs to know where the arm is going, and the foot needs the eye to guide it. When we all spend all our not-sitting-listening-to-the-sermon-or-praying-or-having-a-brief-time-of-worship time running around being busy, it's easy to all be running in different directions. New Wine is a chance to reconnect to the body, and for the body as a whole to reconnect to the Heart.


Edited to add a link to the New Wine site for those who have no idea what I'm talking about!


Tina said...

sounds brilliant

sarah bess said...

i wanna go!
didn't know what the heck you were describing until it was 80 percent described, but the description was so dang hilarious I just had to post this nearly-cussy comment and let you know you're a magnificent writer and that's why you're my all-time fave blogger.

Doorless said...

I want to come!!!!! I don't think my two would make the trip though, esp The Princess. Have a wonderful time of fellowship and worship!

Courtney Cookson said...

ooooo im excited for this year now!!!
and all the things you said are totally true. I just remembered how little fish said mr Bible in an american accent....
c x

Anonymous said...

I've booked today!! Esther xx


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