Just a big idea?
When I feel like God is calling me to start something, it’s almost as if I get this rush of energy, passion or zeal for something. Sometimes it will be a picture, a thought or a feeling that begins to expand, and it won’t leave my mind - for you it may feel completely different. However, I think it’s important when we get big ideas whatever form they come in, to discern it with others, just incase it’s a terrible idea, or even a good idea, but not something that God is calling us to do right now.
I think even if something sounds ridiculous or hard to understand, that God is faithful in putting people around us with different giftings, to encourage us to walk with him closer and to discern his voice. 1 Corinthians 12:10
Last year we were sat in a staff meeting thinking about upcoming Christmas services duringlockdown, and something started to bubble up inside. “What if we decorated the church garden for people to enjoy this Christmas? We could do it around a popular carol and maybe we could get the community involved,” I blurted. Hennie, being ever kind and patient with my random outbursts and a great releaser of Gods people said, “Go for it!” We didn’t quite imagine what form it would take but God's hand was totally upon it. We had the fabulous team consisting of Chris Hill, Mike Johnson, and Warren Amner who, behind the scenes made sure that it would work practically and be safe! We also had the Saturday fellowship who helped set up and take down; the families who made art; the individuals who knitted Christmas decorations; and the local schools and artists who got involved in creating these stunning art installations.
On the evening of the switching on of the lights, I walked around making final touches and revelled in its beauty. All the hard work had paid off and it grew my faith to dream big things with and for God. That evening Bishop Keith cut the ribbon and music filled the air; ‘Silent night, Holy Night’ was our theme. People from all over the community gathered to our church. It was truly moving to see how much joy and laughter was shared and there was a real buzz in the air. We ate mince pies and people brought their hot flasks from home, some even filled with mulled wine, as we walked around taking in the art and the story it told.
The story of God with us reflected through our community, not just in the art but by the people this event brought. There was a deep knowing that night that God is with us.
Throughout the month people enjoyed the garden and, as I have been planning this year to do it all over again, many people in our community have looked back on it fondly, seeing it as a gift and as a piece of hope in such a hard time.
This year the team is back again! We have people knitting; children big and small at school creating; and other artists and creatives working away building outdoor art for us to enjoy. The Winter Garden will be opened by Bishop Mark on Saturday 4th December at 6.30 pm when the lights will be turned on. We will also be having fire Pits to toast marshmallows and will serve hot chocolate. This year our Hymn theme is ‘Joy to the World’ and I can’t wait to see the Art installations for it.
We are also running one off events for the first time this year. On Saturday the 4th of December at 10am we have a lantern making workshop for children and families. This is the perfect way of preparing for the light switch on by bringing the lanterns you make. Then on the 18th December at 10am, we have a High Street Nativity Treasure hunt-for Children and families. The children will learn the nativity story through finding parts of the story, and when they make it back they will win a prize!
I do hope you can join us; and do invite your friends and family. Please book in advance for the one off family and children events, running over the month of December, with the office on 01244 675 372.