‘One more sleep’! And it wasn’t just Digby who was excited.
Revive has come around again. It’s Co-Mission Festival time. It’s fun. It’s relaxing. It’s encouraging. And it’s one of the highlights in the year for me and my family. The kids love it. I love it. And Rosslyn loves it. By the end of the weekend as we drive home together towards the big smoke, we’re absolutely shattered but deeply satisfied. In trying to articulate the reasons why it’s such a good time for us, I’ll not be able to do it justice. But let me have a stab at it. I love Revive for these three reasons. And they’re all to do with time.
1. Revive is time together
The weekend offers us time to be together with others in our own congregation and with others from Co-Mission, our network of churches. We’re often not able to spend as much time as we’d like to with other people. Life is hectic. There are lots of urgent things that we feel that we have to do. And we probably do have to do. But there are so many more important things that we’d like to do that we simply don’t get round to. And chatting to others at church and others in other churches seems so less pressing a need than whatever else we end up doing instead. Having Revive is like an annual insurance policy to remind us on a yearly basis just how kind God has been in giving us others with whom to live the Christian life. And so, at Revive we can chat with the person sat next to us in the main meeting, whichever congregation they come from. And as long as we’re not meant to be collecting small children from kids’ club we can allow that conversation to extend and deepen over coffee. We can share meals together with others in our flat as we move the tables and chairs outside to watch the sun set and talk late into the night about whatever is occupying our minds at the moment. Or we can walk round the grounds with a pushchair as we talk with another Dad about the joys and challenges of fatherhood as our weary one year old decides it’s time for a kip. It’s this sort of quality time together that’s so valuable.
2. Revive is time away
This weekend offers us the opportunity to enjoy time away from the busyness of London life. Our time is pressured in London. Lots of things and people and activities have claims on it. At Revive we can be insulated from those demands (as long as we didn’t bring our work with us). Revive can force us to slow down and relax. Apparently even David Cameron feels the need to ‘chillax’. And who can blame him; it must be taxing telling the newspapers that Jimmy Carr that he’s immoral. At Revive we can sit and listen to gifted musicians as they entertain us. This year we might even be entertained by the comedy that’s being provided by Jam Cary. Yes people, ‘The Canterbury Tales’ is back in a new and much improved format. Rosie has procured a man with fireworks fro Saturday night so that we can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ as we used to in Portsmouth (where we were when we were smaller). Saturday afternoon offers a gamut of sporting activities ranging from hockey to soccer, from ‘ultimate’ (frisbee) to cricket, from cycling to running. And you can even choose to be involved in a game of touch rugby with overly competitive South Africans. Or just join me on the grass and simply watch the kids play cricket with a cool drink in one hand! Revive offers us time away from the normal hectic schedule of an exciting but demanding life in this great city of London.
3. Revive is time out
This weekend offers us the opportunity to benefit from time out to consider the state of our Christian life. We’re often not able to give the attention we’d like to our spiritual health. Our Christian life can often feel that it’s been patched together with duck tape. We survive on a diet of sermons and the occasional home group we can get to. If we’re honest, we don’t pray as much as we’d like; with our spouse (if we have one), with our triplet (even though we mean to meet up fortnightly), with the kids (if we’re back in time) and on our own. Time. We just don’t seem to have it. And our Bible reading is little more than trying to look at the new Good Book Company App on our iPhone on the commute up the northern line. It’s hardly conducive to becoming the mature Christian disciple we’d love to be. But at Revive we get time out. There are clear times when we have no other need than to listen to some great talks. This year they’re coming from Sydney’s David Cook and Chelsea’s Andy Mason. We can attend some extraordinarily varied seminars. And by that I mean varied in their subject matter, not in their quality! We can be encouraged by substantial conversations with others and make resolutions, plans and strategies for this year to be different. And find time for a walk and a pray with the Lord around the vast campus at the University of Kent. We all need this sort of time out to make sure that we don’t neglect our spiritual health. And we get it at Revive.
My prayer is that we’ll benefit enormously from time together, time away and time out. I think we will.