A guest blog from Francis Brienen, Deputy General Secretary (Mission), United Reformed Church and first-time visitor to Greenbelt …
As a first timer to Greenbelt my list was long and varied, ranging from talks and music, to worship and life-drawing (and that was just the first day). My list was also organised: arranged in columns so I could see what I wanted to prioritise. Above all, my list was useless, because the best way of doing Greenbelt (so I discovered) is by just letting it happen and going with the flow.
Greenbelt for the first-timer is an assault on the senses and on the body. Nobody told me to bring a chair! It is loud, it is busy, it is wet – and scorching hot – but the festival also reflects church at its most thoughtful, worshipful, engaged and imaginative.
The contribution of the United Reformed Church, a first-time associate partner with Greenbelt, fitted right in. It included an art installation, a panel discussion, and Cake and Debate for young people – all to ignite a conversation on ‘Scrap the Church?’ Pop-up liturgy at various times and locations took people on a journey with Jesus. The URC tent in G-Source became a place where old and new friends could meet, talk, do a bit of art and craft, listen to poetry or start the URstars treasure hunt.
But of course there was much, much more to Greenbelt.
In just over two days I have been challenged to think about:
- Being ethical as a consumer
- Religious persecution
- How our media portrays refugees
I also worshipped with everyone from the Dalits of India to the Archbishop of Canterbury – not to mention lots of funny and wise, kazoo-playing children who led the Sunday morning Communion. I have danced with young Palestinians, listened to some great music, and been reminded by inspiring and thoughtful men and women that, whenever we are lost, God will not let us go. He will come and find us.
Greenbelt 2016. An assault on the senses, a challenge to this body, but above all, balm for the soul! See you next year…
Deputy General Secretary (Mission), United Reformed Church
First-time visitor to Greenbelt
URC is an associate partner of Greenbelt