This weekend was my 50th activity of 60@60; another milestone! It was a conference organised by an organisation called Oak Hall at Otford Manor in Kent. It was a mixed weekend of Bible teaching on Hosea, walks and fun.
For me the challenge of such an event is going alone and getting to know a whole group of people that I have never met. I’m pretty bad at remembering names and fear making a fool of myself; of being rejected. But I guess many of us are like that and it is so easy to become self-focussed. But there are always others for whom it was more difficult. There was one chap who was clearly quite high on the autistic spectrum and others who admitted to panic attacks. The people were eclectic but lovely and it was really interesting hearing people’s stories. I was reminded that we are part of a wider family, in this case from all over England and that I do belong.
There was a bit in the book of Hosea about God changing our name, basically from one of rejection to one of hope and acceptance. This morning in time on my own I was reminded sitting by a field that (John 10) Jesus is the gate and calls us each by name. There is acceptance, security and identity in Him when we chose to come to Him-how much we all need those things in our lives.
Last night we had a bonfire with hot chocolate and I was reminded of my worldwide family. The bonfire was on the hillside near a cross and it once again reminded me that the two often go together. Going the way of the cross can bring fiery trials, which many go through. It also took me back to the Pilgrims Way and seeing the plaque in Wye to two men burned for their faith in 1557; looking at the bonfire made me really recoil. And even today some Christians in countries like Nigeria see their houses, schools and churches destroyed by fire, escaping with only their lives and tragically some die too.
Finally, it’s been quite a couple of days for publications about 60@60 with an article on the work website on Friday and a piece for Premier radio that was played tonight. A privilege to be able to do this and I was encouraged by receiving another £180 so now about £4 750. Thanks to you all again for your interest and support.