Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wow what a weekend!

This weekend, with christian communities all over the town, we took part in 'Across Hemel' a mission event of social action, teaching and community building. To say that it was good is a complete understatement.

The weekend for us began on Saturday. Many other churches took the decision to take part in social action projects around the locality - litter picking, shoe shining, garden clearing etc. We chose not to do this for all sorts of reasons. Instead we held a FREE community barbecue in the church yard instead. Free is a theme that will run through these reflections...

We catered for about 100 people, and the best guess is that we had at least that number of people sharing time with us, more like 120! The BBQ was an opportunity to invite people, to deepen friendships. The there were two things that impressed me beyond measure. Firstly, many people in the community had seen the advertising or heard about the bbq and came - many who wouldn't normally come to church, which was fantastic. Secondly, many from our own congregation took the opportunity to be evangelists and to invite people themselves. Wonderful weather, a great atmosphere and a good advert for the free love and grace of God.

On Saturday evening, Alex and I were invited to join a team for the quiz night in the marquee i Gadebridge park. The quiz was a sell out - not that it cost to register bu the place was packed with teams of up to 8 people. We had a great evening hosted by Steve Lee - more of him later - and fun as teams, again getting to know on another better. The high point of the evening was hearing the testimony of a local Christian leader - Kerry-Anne - she was nervous! But, when she settled into what she was doing, God's free grace and love took what she said and used it. Very very powerful stuff. The story of a very broken, very angry woman transformed! Incredible!

On Sunday morning, we canceled our 10am service to encourage our congregations to come down again to the marquee in Gadebridge park to share in worship together. There must have been a congregation of about 1000 people. The worship was very very powerful and moving. God was tangibly amongst us. There was a fantastic sense of The Church in Hemel Hempstead worshiping together. real unity. The preacher was Steve Lee again. He kinda has a large Bruce Willis look about him. But what he said and they way that he said what he did about the free love and grace of God was so powerful. He spoke about the parable of the prodigal son, well used, but somehow on that say, at that occasion , fresh and challenging. I was personally moved to tears during the service and was renewed by the all too rare a chance for my family to worship together! Personally, I was delighted to see so many of the members of Holy Trinity there together - a guess says around 60 of our regulars. I would be really keen to hear their feedback - feel free to comment below or to email me...

I don't think we as a church, are in a place to be able to worship like that every week and nor do I think it appropriate. But, I did see many of our people touched and moved by the power and the free grace and love of God amongst us by the power of his Holy Spirit. Amazing stuff!

Then in the afternoon a free family fun day was held in the park with games and face painting plus a free give away - a bit like a car boot sale but without the sale! The afternoon got cold, but was well attended by people who just could not believe that all this was being done free of charge! It reminded me of the scripture - you have received without price now give without price - God has given us so much. Here was an opportunity for His church to show that in action and when asked why, to explain ourselves fully.

In the evening we were in for a musical treat as LOndon Community Gospel Choir came to sing. They raised the roof as they praised God in music and song. Jaw-droppingly good...

Again Steve Lee spoke at this event and offered the chance for people who were there, as he had done in the morning, to ask God into their lives for themselves. Many adults and teens and children seemed to respond and to receive some prayer by other people.

In short - what an amazing weekend. One that has opened my eyes to teh free grace and love of God available to us. It also reminded me of the power of God working amongst us by the Holy Spirit. It also, renewed my trust and relationship with God and I feels so blessed by having attended what I did. Now for the hard graft...

Some people who were there over the weekend from our church, were clearly deeply moved by what God was doing. Some were having their first experience of God personally for themselves. Some had their faith and trust renewed. Others still found themselves, like me, wanting more of God and more of what we saw and experienced in their own lives and in our worship. There is much to do, much to pray to follow all this up.

I pray that we may seek God's wisdom and grace not shy away from the path open before us, but instead would pray, trust, listen and respond to the free grace and love of God for ourselves and for our community.

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