Greenbelt – hymns, beer, worship, food and listening

paulsmusing

Every year I long for Greenbelt, this year was filled with anticipation of the unknown, for it was to be at a new venue, Boughton house, Deene Park, was a long time ago and Knebworth also time past but of recent years Cheltenham had become home, with its concrete concourses and posh loo’s. This year though was back to green fields and a compact site with the theme of Traveling Light. I think the theme really referred to the amount of infrastructure, well and the paucity of main stage acts Monday evening.

Worship – well there’s loads of it! From the loud and boisterous Beer and Hymns (often sadly unofficial, although this year it meant I had the fun of leading it with the amazing Hannah and support of Phil) . Silent Eucharists, formal Catholic Mass, Celtic liturgies but best of all the main Communion service on the Sunday morning…

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Greenbelt – hymns, beer, worship, food and listening

Every year I long for Greenbelt, this year was filled with anticipation of the unknown, for it was to be at a new venue, Boughton house, Deene Park, was a long time ago and Knebworth also time past but of recent years Cheltenham had become home, with its concrete concourses and posh loo’s. This year though was back to green fields and a compact site with the theme of Traveling Light. I think the theme really referred to the amount of infrastructure, well and the paucity of main stage acts Monday evening.

Worship – well there’s loads of it! From the loud and boisterous Beer and Hymns (often sadly unofficial, although this year it meant I had the fun of leading it with the amazing Hannah and support of Phil) . Silent Eucharists, formal Catholic Mass, Celtic liturgies but best of all the main Communion service on the Sunday morning. Thousands of people gather in the Glade in front of the Glade Stage, communion is given to groups of 20 who are randomly formed together often not knowing each other. For me this is the beating heart of Greenbelt, maybe because I am an Anglican but more probably because Christ commanded us to remember him in this manner. Each year the theme changes and each year it is different for me this years was the best in many years and could only be improved by not messing about with the hymns and having a clear starting point.

Listening – here there is a problem! Too many talks competing, it’s a fantastic problem which to choose. The talks however are not all just presentations of ideas in didactic fashion, some are over coffee (when speaking about Fairtrade). Some of the talks are disguised as walks and talks (foraging) others are traditionally delivered with passion, pathos, intensity and humour. Whoever you are you will be challenged, fed, you will agree with some and disagree with others, I would suggest you try some in each category.

Hymns – Just sing them and take part, but then I would say that about any part of the festival, taste and see many things but don’t be half hearted. You will only miss things by not getting involved.

Food – Essential to life, essential to enjoyment and such variety. I love the ultra thin pizzas, fish curry, pies with cheesy mash. You choose there’s so many kinds of food on offer.

Beer – perhaps not essential to life but very close! The Jesus arms as always had a great selection of beers and ciders, and the Blue Nun some great wine, (at least so I’m told). It was great to have The Jesus Arms so close to the Glade Stage, particularly when it was inclement. For me Beer and Hymns is a massively important part of the festival but I want to be clear as a person that helps lead it it is about the worship of God in song, not the worship of beer (that would be idolatry, I will blog about the theology of beer and hymns latter). The thing about the beer is enjoy it like everything else but in this case a little moderation!

Coming back to the site there were problems this year, possibly not enough toilets/ or maybe they were in the wrong place, the water pressure was at first too low in the caravan and motorhome area, 30 minutes for 40 litres is way to long! The site was rutted and difficult for the disabled and this is possibly the most difficult thing to correct but I did notice that the staff to The Jesus Arms were camped much closer to to the festival than anyone else and there was a close by vehicle access. As for the mud on Monday, if it rains and thousands walk on clay soil then it will get muddy, end of! Particularly if people will walk on the grass and not the plastic track and I guess they will so there’s little to be done but pray for fine weather.

So yup there were a few teething problems but the amazing team that plan it, added by the excellent army of volunteers will sort many of these things out and no doubt refine even the great and good things. Otherwise, put your heart and soul in and be refreshed, learn and have great fun.

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New Wine – General Reflection

paulsmusing

New Wine this year was at least four firsts:-
1) First time at Shepton Mallet
2) First time that the Hungry tent was at New Wine
3) First time we used the Duchess (our motorhome) without external power
4) First time that worship made me feel more out of place than I ever have in a service before.

So did we enjoy New Wine? In part Yes, for me it was the best I have been to yet in some ways! Mostly due to point two, which was a tent for those who would really define themselves as introvert charismatics. The worship was acoustic and sought to draw us into God’s presence without clamour or driving rhythms ( I will be blogging on this latter). There was a mediative feel to the word which was taken from the Psalms. The main worship was in the Arena and I only went…

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New Wine – General Reflection

New Wine this year was at least four firsts:-
1) First time at Shepton Mallet
2) First time that the Hungry tent was at New Wine
3) First time we used the Duchess (our motorhome) without external power
4) First time that worship made me feel more out of place than I ever have in a service before.

So did we enjoy New Wine? In part Yes, for me it was the best I have been to yet in some ways! Mostly due to point two, which was a tent for those who would really define themselves as introvert charismatics. The worship was acoustic and sought to draw us into God’s presence without clamour or driving rhythms ( I will be blogging on this latter). There was a mediative feel to the word which was taken from the Psalms. The main worship was in the Arena and I only went to this in the evenings after the first day, here the worship was loud, charismatic and driving.

For me the highlight of these services was on the Thursday evening when we were asked to intercede and pray for those Christians suffering persecution in Iraq and Syria. For the first time in my life I saw Angels, not one, not two but a great many, supporting the speaker and throughout the congregation.

We also loved the after hours events, which were great fun. So to was the ability to meet up with people not seen for a year or in some cases much longer, but we did miss friends that we would normally have seen at Newark but let’s hope we see them again.

To my great pleasure localism curry houses were found to indulge our cravings for spice, although there were many more food outlets than at Newark. Along with an excellent but pricy organic farm food shop and a little less expensive supermarket. All in all making not having a car with us easy, something that had worried us a fair bit.

The hard thing was the Wednesday night, the worship was extremely loud and to be fair it was imported from Urban Impact and had it been for five or ten minutes, ok but it was longer and seemed a great deal longer. It depressed me reducing me to tears, tears of confusion. It seemed louder than any mead, the lights and smoke were more like a concert at which the stars are worshiped and not the God who created the maths of the rhythm.
I so wish that Wednesday was the only night in which we were treated to the cacophonous, sadly it recurred. I felt so alienated, so lost, I had not felt like that ever in church and even with all this time I find no positives.

To end on a positive The Duchess was great, we really enjoyed using her and having her, in fact it was really good to be able to retreat to her.