This year I was a contributor to the Greenbelt Festival on the 180 team running the skate park. Was a great time, a few tweets made it up onto the church sofa and everything. Being a contributor is pretty great, at first we had figured we were the same as volunteers so we were going into the volunteers lounge and making ourselves a cup of tea or coffee and so on. Then on the second day a woman told us that we weren’t meant to be there and that we had to go to the contributors lounge instead. We were a bit annoyed by this assuming that we would have to pay for drinks there or that it might not even exist. However we eventually found the contributors area and discovered almost what heaven might be like. We didn’t have to make our own drinks, or pay for them there was a whole team of people there to help make the festival even better for us and we got everything we could need, free wifi and electricity as well. If only I had taken something that could use either of those effectively.
Throughout the week I made it to a few talks and bands, some of the highlights were Courtney Pine and The Herbaliser on the main stage and most of the bands in the Performance Cafe. However 2 things really stood out this Greenbelt for me. One was the brilliant Beer and Hymns where there was nothing fancy about the worship leading just a plonky piano and a singer or two, no fancy new songs just a whole load of people enjoying their beer and enjoying singing hymns passionately to God. The other was a talk I went to see, by Dave Andrews, he talked about the defining characteristic of the 20th Century being violence, more people died because of a another person in the 20th century than the rest of human history! The only way we can change this is to stop thinking of plan A (treating others how they treat us or how we think they will treat us) and start following Plan B (treating others as we want to be treated). His Talk has really made me think about how my life work for this and how this can be done big scale as well as small scale. It’s a practical outliving of the second greatest commandment in the Bible. Love your neighbour as yourself.
That was the mark Greenbelt left on me this year. To love others as myself, to treat them how I want to be treated and to put them first.
A great part of the festival was the journey home, a time when I got to see this mark on me in action in other people. I was headed to the train station in Bath and as I was going along the wheel broke on my suitcase, quite annoying but it was going along on one wheel ok. Then the handle broke off which meant that I couldn’t even drag it along behind me, I was going to have to carry it. This was a heavy suitcase and when already carrying another bag a chair and sleeping bag and a rucksack on this journey suddenly became a lot harder. Just then someone driving past stopped and offered me a lift to the train station, I had never met them before and possibly never will again. But they saw me struggling and did one small thing to help. If they hadn’t stopped and given me a lift I would have missed the train I was aiming for and had to wait around for another 2 hours. The second such event happened about 30 minutes later I had changed train at Bristol and had run through the station with all my bags to make the 2 minute change over between trains. I got onto the train and suddenly realised that I was in first class without a first class ticket and the train doors had closed and we were moving. So I sat myself down by the door and started reading. The guy running the train asked me if I wanted a cup of tea from the first class lounge. I told him I wasn’t first class but he brought me one anyway. It was great, i was quite thirsty after struggling with bags and a long day and everything and just one small act of kindness made that journey so much easier and comfortable.
So let’s make sure that we keep on doing those small things that really make someone’s day and not forget to thank God for the times when the small things are done for us too. Because after all when we serve someone else we are serving Jesus and in turn being a model of Jesus to the person we serve.