|Entering the hall|
The speakers brought us encouragement and challenge. Encouragement by hearing what God can do and is doing round the world; challenge particularly in the area of the inner and hidden life of the leader. 'Consecration' was a word used several times in relation to the leader's life: make sure, as leaders, that our personal lives are in the right place with God so that our public lives are lived with integrity. It was a message of particular poignancy following the news that the Chair of the New Wine Trustees, Mark Bailey, has had to stand down due to a clergy disciplinary matter being considered by the Bishop of Gloucester. John Coles spoke eloquently and with grace about what happens when a 'bomb' like that drops on the church.
We were encouraged by Nicky Gumbel with the story of Abraham who is described in the bible being 'as good as dead', yet trusted God for the promise of a son - Isaac. Many say today that the church is 'as good as dead' but Nicky encouraged us to believe like Abraham that it's never too late to dream dreams, and that the church will not die.
|Justin Welby: 'The winter is over'.|
|Brother Edward, his church in Damascus|
|A child's expression of the evil in Syria: his father abducted, houses bombed, yet hope that enemies will one day play football together|
The times of worship at New Wine events are intense - even physically tiring! Personally I find the songs are pitched awkwardly to sing, but through music and song the intention is to build a meeting place - a temple - where God can meet with his people through his Spirit.
I enjoy these New Wine events as an opportunity to catch up with people who I've trained with, worked with and grown up with over the years. John Hughes, who as the curate of St Stephen's East Twickenham, is one of those 'saints' to whom I owe such a debt of gratitude in my journey of faith. Now he's retired, but still active. It was lovely to remind each other of what God has done over the last 40 years.
The motto of New Wine is 'Local Churches Changing Nations'. I pray that we will make a difference in Old Coulsdon - that we will help God's kingdom to come in the lives of the people who live and work here, and in the time that I've got left I will be part of that work.