Today was the day of the final cancellation of all of the events I had been looking forward to this year.
The first to be cancelled was UniteBB, an event that I have been volunteering at since when I was a Boys’ Brigade Officer. Its my last link to BB. Why do I like it and why do I do it? Its an opportunity to meet with friends I have made through helping to build this festival. We converse by email and electronically through the year and then have an intense experience of building, operating, experiencing and taking down a great mini festival. Let alone the satisfaction of achieving something great with a wonderful team of friends, there is the camaraderie of the shared experience, and the shear fun we have, putting up tents, creating live sound and lights, laughing and sharing stories. The energy and the excitement of the young people we serve during the weekend is a huge buzz, and to see their faces when they arrive, and how much they enjoy the event, and how much it does for their confidence and letting them experience “life to the full”. On Tuesday this week, I would have packed my car to the gunnels with all my sound and lighting equipment and set off to have a wonderful week. I will miss everyone, and miss the experience. BB is offering a program of events over the weekend to try and engage everyone in a different way. I do hope and pray it is successful. If you want to see what they are getting up to take a trip to http://www.unitebb.org.uk/unite-2020/
Greenbelt Festival was the second event to be cancelled. We’ve been attending Greenbelt since 1984 (Ok I did miss 2 years, 1999 when I was in Australia working, and 2003 we went to Switzerland with Caroline’s Girl Guides). With the Festival cancelled for 2020, Caroline is Furloughed, and the remainder of the staff have gone down to 80% pay. Caroline is missing working, again with a great team of people. At Greenbelt, I’m one of the co-leaders of the Hosting Team. We provide the Hosts and the Comperes for most of Greenbelt’s venues. Again, I will miss working with this great team of people, and miss the energy and buzz of the festival. Greenbelt is providing content every week from now on, and staging a Festival at Home over the Bank Holiday weekend. See https://www.greenbelt.org.uk/wild-at-home/
The final cancellation was over a Zoom call this morning, after Methodist Council agreed to cancel 3Generate for 2020. That was a hard one to take, as I suppose I was hoping that this one event would survive, and hoping that by October things would be looking a bit more normal. Its a sobering reminder that this virus will be around for some time yet. The 3Generate team will be launching a new initiative called 3Generate 365, and I hope to be part of this. See https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/children-youth-family-ministry/3generate/.
I know in my heart that all these decisions to cancel these events were the right decisions, and we all need to do everything we can to keep everyone safe. However, my logical brain knowing that, does not help the emotional side of my brain, which is a bit sadder today, seeing all 3 major events that I look forward to every year being cancelled. these are the events that top up my energy levels, so I feel a bit drained today.
For many of my colleagues, they re-charge by going on retreats, to have silence in a monastery, to paint or draw, or sew, or craft, or hug trees. That’s not for me. We are all different. I like to do other things, different things, and be involved in a dynamic fast moving team. Ministry can at times be isolating anyway. I spend hours at my desk battling with emails, admin and service preparation (and now video editing!), or driving in the car. I need to be with people not retreat from people.
One of the subjects that caught my attention in the Mission during Covid 19 Webinar that I joined this week was just a start of a conversation on Lament. This is something I want to explore a bit more in the next few weeks. We have been subject to the shock of a huge amount of change, a number of our freedoms have been removed, and to cap it all, the one place we would naturally turn to for support (our churches) have been closed.
Often we put a brave face on things and carry on. I once read a book called “Praise the Lord, I have just broken my arm” or something like that where the author was calling out the strange habits we Christians have on putting a brave face on and carrying on, and trying to turn everything into an opportunity to praise the Lord.
Yes, we should praise the Lord, whenever we can, but sometimes we need to purge ourselves by having a moan to God, even railing against him for the things that have happened.
Lament is a christian tradition that goes back to the Psalms. Look at how the Psalmists railed against God and moaned and shouted.
One of our clergy colleagues this week received a nasty letter. So we pointed them to Psalm 3:-
Psalm 3 The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm, When He Escaped for His Life from Absalom, His Son
3 1-2 God! Look! Enemies past counting!
Enemies sprouting like mushrooms,
Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:
“Hah! No help for him from God!”
3-4 But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain.
5-6 I stretch myself out. I sleep.
Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady,
Fearless before the enemy mobs
Coming at me from all sides.
7 Up, God! My God, help me!
Slap their faces,
First this cheek, then the other,
Your fist hard in their teeth!
8 Real help comes from God.
Your blessing clothes your people!
Here the Psalmist has a good moan about his enemies, and still remembers God.
One of our enemies at this present time is the Covid19 virus. So as I lament and moan, at God, I ask God to “slap their faces” this nasty little virus, “First this cheek, then the other”, and for God to stick his fist firmly in the face of the virus.
So I think a little lamenting will do me good. I need to understand a Christian response to lament, and how we spend some time together and deal with our loss and grief together. We will see if we can find some time in collective worship to explore this together.
In the meantime, listen to Rend Collective trying to explain this and take a listen to this Song – Weep with me:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfXwzMi1FxA
So if you are having a bad day. Take a moment to Lament, take a moment to have a moan to God, then when you are ready read some psalms.
Remember, through all of this our God loves us, and we can cheer each other by sharing our concerns, and our laments, and then once we are through the sadness, we can turn around and face God again, and turn back to praise.