by Si Munsie
All across the UK, the August bank holiday weekend was bathed in sunshine and there were festivals and events everywhere you looked: from the iconic Reading & Leeds and Notting Hill carnival, to the sun-avoiding Insomnia gaming festival in Birmingham to the more obscure Marathon du Malton – a 10k race whilst quaffing craft ales, munching on lobster brioche and roust grouse before finishing with macarons…sounds like my kind of 10k race! But whilst most people returning from these events will be nursing a sore head and those who weren’t there are dealing with their FOMO whilst tapping the insta stories of their friends and followers, I find myself reflecting on an incredible weekend at Commission’s Westpoint but having spent most of the journey home talking about next year, my eye is on what is to come rather than what has been.
Westpoint has been a place where I have had personal encounters with God that have changed the path I was expecting life to take; the reason I’m sat in my church office writing this blog rather than frantically backing classroom boards ready for another cohort. It has been the setting for friendships made for life. It has been the place where my eldest (initially reluctantly) went to his group to then come back to the tent and tell me that he’s said sorry to Jesus for the bad things he’s said, done and thought and that Jesus is his friend and will never leave him. It has been the place I’ve taken an axe to the head of the love of money and given till I’ve felt sick.
It has been the place of slip and slides, listening to the greatest cricket innings we’re likely to have in a lifetime, table tennis tournaments, tuck shops, alpacas, ferrets, birds of prey, bouncy castles, boats, planes, thrones, gardens, confetti, flames, quizzes, late nights, early mornings, bacon rolls, sunshine, showers and so much more besides…but above all, it is a community of believers in Jesus commissioned with a mandate to make much of Jesus in our world.
Over the years of camping with Life church, we’ve seen babies at just a few weeks old through to those in their 80s with us and the one thing that always stands out to me is the culture of unity that permeates it all including those back at home. From the assumption that once you’ve got your tent up, you go and help someone else with theirs to the countless water trips to ensure the urns are always filled (how does there always seem to be hot water at any time of night or day?!) It is the unseen efforts (to the human eye) of many people that make the Life church marquee and site the kind of place that keeps people coming back year after year.
It’s a computer network specialist, who holds responsibility for some areas of national security, cooking bacon at 7am. It’s the teenager with a whole gaggle of children in tow keeping them entertained for hours with 8 pieces of duplo, a beanbag and a grasshopper. It’s the quiet conversation between the retiree and the young mum that has been silently longed for. It’s the people who can’t be on site posting links to the live streams and helping others to engage from afar. It’s the moment someone feels called to give God an outrageous sum of money in the offering because the spirit has so moved them.
It’s the extra ticket paid for by someone else in faith so that someone hears the good news of Jesus and decides to follow him for the very first time (true story!)
It’s people getting up early to pack up so they can trudge through bank holiday traffic to get home, unpack their own stuff and then come out again to unload the packed-to-the-rafters van. It’s regular, everyday miracles of sacrifice and love and they send shockwaves into the seen and unseen realm around us. It’s nothing short of world changing (and that’s not even mentioning any of the teaching, seminars or worship!)
Here’s the best bit though…it’s not about festivals. It’s not about Westpoint. It’s not about Life church.
It’s all about Jesus.
That’s what it’s about day-by-day, Sunday to Sunday and August bank holiday to August bank holiday.
Want to be part of something that will give you hope rather than a hangover, a mission over just memories and a family in place of Facebook? Book into Connect Festival for 2020 and come to one of our sites across Southampton this Sunday.
by Si Munsie