The end of the school year is fast approaching. Whatever I do seems to be a trade-off with something else important demanding attention. It’s not always practical, but emotional support needing to be given out. We’re into the last month of school madness – getting ready for one to go away, one to come back, exam week, high school graduation week, middle school graduation, dresses to be altered, not to mention a wedding coming up in August.
One thing I would not trade would be last weekend. All other things get put aside for Green Hill Lake Camp with our Church family. We didn’t used to prioritize this kind of thing. Years ago, back in England, although we loved our church family we made a decision not to go to a couple of weekends away with Jubilee church. We had reasons, but looking back on them they were flimsy. I think we missed out on something.
Now, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than with this ever-changing and growing group of God’s people. There’s always someone new to get to know. Stories to be heard. Joy and laughter. Time to chat over meals. Great times of worship and teaching. Kids everywhere.
The highlight is the baptisms in the lake on Saturday afternoon, which was predictably very un-May like weather. Five people from five different backgrounds told their stories of how Jesus changed their lives. One from South Africa, one from Honduras, one from the UK and two from right here in Canada. God got hold of their lives here in different ways and brought them to this point. I love how God brings nations together, breaking down boundaries, making us family. When I hear other people’s stories it excites me again – God is real and He is working today.
Sometimes the connections couldn’t be made up. Years ago, after I finished high school I took a gap year and joined a team working with a newly planted church in Lancing on the south coast of England. It was 1991 and the plant was being helped out for the first year or so by a leader called Dave Fellingham from Brighton. He is a fantastic worship leader and musician. I remember participating in the Christmas service, playing the clarinet. We had to go to practices with the band and I felt quite intimidated and nervous. At one point when I was struggling with one part, Dave said, ‘Emma, if I didn’t think you could do it, I wouldn’t have asked you!’ That told me.
About ten years ago when we started thinking and praying about moving to Canada, we learned that a couple of the leaders from Fredericton were staying with Dave, and his wife Rosie, in Brighton for a conference. We could hardly believe it! Tim had his first chat on the phone with them, but we hardly dared believe that we would move over back then.
I’d never have imagined then that years later I’d be at a church weekend in Eastern Canada, playing in the worship band on a year when Dave is the guest speaker. It’s a little weird. Dave has had a friendship with our church family here since it began 20 years ago, so this weekend was a bit of an anniversary celebration.
We have a Variety Show on the Saturday night while we are away. I love it. We’re all together just having fun. There were a number of different acts. Both the kids and adults performed. Our Life group ‘danced’ to a montage of song snippets – one song for each of the last twenty years. For 2017, we chose the last few lines of Coldplay and The Chainsmokers’, ‘Something Just Like This’.
I want something just like this.
What is the something? Being part of this church family. It is such a privilege to serve our city alongside these people we love. We have ups and downs, but God is at work in us by His Spirit as he is with His church all around the world, changing lives, reconciling people to himself, and extending His kingdom. All to give glory to Jesus. There’s no better place to be.