"We get to live this out this love every week" - GCW Away Day 2022
On a beautifully sunny Saturday in July, thankfully not quite as hot as the sweltering heatwave of this week, a whole cohort of cars and a crammed minibus pulled up at the venue for GCW’s first church family day out. After playing a complex game of Tetris squeezing all the cars into parking spaces, ably directed by our hosts, people started to trickle out to explore.
Coffee and conversation started the day well, as did the bacon butties cooked up by Jonathan and Peter who had camped out overnight on the field so that they could wake up at 5am to get the smokers going ready for the evening barbecue.
Reminded of God's faithfulness
As Al Gooderham, our guest speaker (and pastor of Grace Church Doncaster) started the first of 3 talks based in 1 Kings 19, a glance around the crowded marquee was encouraging and astonishing thinking back to the first time I had attended Grace Church almost 6 years before. Engaged to be married, I had felt a certain amount of trepidation when Samuel decided to join a tiny church plant with all of eight members. I had felt exposed, selfishly nervous that we wouldn’t have the support of an established church as we embarked on married life together. But reflecting on the love and support we have felt and the opportunities to serve, as well as looking at the friends and the church family sitting around me (almost seventy of us in total - not all members…yet!), reminded me that God is faithful even when I lack faith.
Reflecting on the love and support we have felt and the opportunities to serve, as well as looking at the friends and the church family sitting around me reminded me that God is faithful even when I lack faith.
Al’s three talks displayed God’s gentleness, wisdom and glory. Al explained that we shouldn’t be surprised if telling people about Jesus can sometimes feel discouraging; the Bible doesn’t shy away from Elijah’s intense expression of his own discouragement and heartache. The second talk reminded us that we are created beings who need to have the humility to take time to eat and rest, something which the one who created us knows full well. And, finally, we heard that God’s plans do not rely on our being and doing everything; we have our small part to play and can do this safe in the knowledge that God is more concerned for his glory than we are.
A taste of heaven
The venue was lovely, Jonathan and Peter excelled themselves serving us delicious food, there was a bouncy castle, enough Nerf guns to allow for an all-out battle amongst the kids (and maybe some of the adults!), and the weather was perfect for a stroll through yellow wheat fields and a competitive game of rounders.
But as enjoyable and restful as all of this was, when one of the people at our prayer group said that she had felt like ‘Saturday was a taste of heaven’, I don’t think this is what she was referring to. In John 13 v 34-35 Jesus said, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ We spent a full day together; a group of people so diverse in so many ways and yet united by Christ’s love for us, a love which enables us to go on and love each other. Eating, resting, chatting, singing songs of worship and hearing from God’s word together did feel like a foretaste of God’s kingdom.
As with any foretaste, not only was it not a perfect representation of the true thing but it came to an end and the carefully parked cars gradually dispersed into the evening, carrying us back to Wakefield.
And as much as it was a lovely day and there was a sadness in parting, we are thankful that we get to live out this love every week, perhaps in situations which make it more difficult to be loving, patient and kind to each other, but also in ways that allow us to be more truly involved in the joys and the chaos of each other’s lives.
Finally, foretastes like our church day out encourage us to look ahead to the day when God will bring all his people, from everywhere and every time, together in faith and unity to be with him - forever.