Sunday, 18 September 2011

Greenbelt 2011

Better later than never I thought I'd post my comments on Greenbelt 2011 so I'll start with the pictures I took:

Yes I did take my camera but I didn't take any photos.  To make up for that here are a couple my wife took:

Our trailer tent complete with bunting made by my wife
Me wearing my new hat and hoodie standing by my son-in-law

 This year the only music we went to was Billy Bragg who, as usual, sang it as he saw it.

I'm not sure why but I wasn't as organised as last year so I didn't get to as many talks as I would have liked. Of the talks that I attended the highlights were:

Paula Gooder on what happens when we die, I may well blog more about this once I've read the book.

Rob Bell to me didn't live up to the hype. There was nothing wrong with what he had to say but it sounded more like a motivational talk about 'being yourslf' and he was 15 minutes into his talk before he mentioned God.

Brian McLaren was excellent but I didn't take notes so may well blog about his book once I've read it.

Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli pilot who refused to carry out orders to take part in attacks on the Palestinian Territories.  He is a co-founder of Combatants for Peace and campaigns against what he sees as the illegal suppression of the Palestinians by Israel - he used the word 'apparthied' to describe what is happening. I felt that I was in the presence of a genuine hero.

Barbara Gleeson whose talk about how the church must transform itself in order to reach out to the rest of society included what, for me, was the phrase of the weekend: "Butterflies are not caterpillars with wings"  This is a rallying call to the church to look at itself and to be prepared to be completely transformed.  Again I may well blog about this again when I've read her book.

Finally two things touched me more than any music or talks. Firstly there was the Sunday morning communion with several thousand people sharing the peace, breaking bread and drinking wine together.  I won't try and describe it but suffice to say it was a special time.  The other is closely related and that is the atmosphere of the whole event; it feels peaceful and safe and you find yourself talking to complete strangers in a way that you wouldn't normally dream of doing.  It's a special time and place where God's Spirit seems to gently break through; I think our Celtic forebears would call it a Thin Place.

So that's it for Greenbelt 2011.  I'm already looking forward to Greenbelt 2012 where I may, or may not, be more organised.