This past week-end has been like no-other. I’m going to run the risk of seemingly spouting about how good my job is through this blog, but seriously, this week end has been a joy.
Let me explain what I’ve been up to, and in so doing I hope you may get hold of that age old truth that good news is communicated in a myriad of different ways with an equal number of ways people connect with it! The whole week-end utilised the world class skills of Jason Carter.
So, let me start with Friday… as I served as city center chaplain with my team we went out in pairs to remind people of the concert with Jason Carter the following day. This proved to be an opportunity to talk with people about why we had an artist joining us and what he would do… Through simply offering flyers to people about a gig I ended up listening to a man who had a story full of heart-ache, and while he was skeptical to the power of prayer agreed that it would be a good thing for me to pray for him. I also encouraged people to advertise the event and one guy who is homeless whom I had met for breakfast agreed to leave some flyers at the library for me and hand them out to people he met. I also asked one of the local cafes to help us by donating paper cups for the tea and coffee.
The Saturday nights concert was a new thing, a creative ‘open the doors’ and see what happens kind of event. Inspired by my friend Steven in Peterborough he had lined up painters to do there thing while Jason Carter performed, and also some off the cuff impromptu songs and poems by people who attended. I also was ready to offer ‘readings’ using a Jesus Deck. This is a simple way of relating the story of Jesus with our lives. The whole concert attracted around 50 people, some from the streets who ventured in and some who had seen the flyers around and some who we had invited… while there were lots of ‘connecting’ with good news going on there is one story that stands out from the evening. One guy had come along to hear the beautiful guitar playing but spoke about ‘something going on.’ “The more I sit and listen to the music the more I think, I need help…” He cried as he spoke about how desperate he was. This conversation wasn’t known to one of the artists who had painted something which connected with the guy so much so that he sat with her afterwards and spoke about how God knew him and was interested in his life.
Sunday morning and Jason Carter performed in 3 cafes and a pub. This was a simple gift, to be church in unexpected places among people who wouldn’t consider going to church. We gave out cards with some explanation as to what we were doing and also outside the cafes a load of free cakes and doughnuts! So, we had an ‘inside team’ a group who spoke with people about what we were doing and an outside team inviting people in or simple giving a free gift! Hearing Jason perform in Weatherspoon’s pub was simply beautiful. It created an atmosphere where the space between heaven and earth was ‘thin.’ One of my team Sue, a student with The Light Project spoke with a lady who was visiting Peterborough as her daughter was in the prison based there. As they sat on the sofa she asked if they could pray together. As I packed up one lady thanked me for the music and gave me a big hug! She asked ‘do you do healing?’ One of the team, a teenager who had joined us, prayed with me and the lady for healing and she spoke about receiving peace and warmth. Where else could these kind of ministry opportunities happen? Being church in the pub just brought a sense of God’s presence and his love for people and opportunities to show that love.
On or way to the final concert Jason even had time to pop into hospital to play a song over a friend of mine who sells the Big Issue in Peterborough! What a rich gift to have a private 5 minute concert in his hospital room!
The afternoon concert was at the emerging Light Project arts center in Great Gransden. The place felt full with around 80 people enjoying the concert as well as the craft activities for the children. The time of the concert (4-6) meant families could attend. Jason’s music mesmerized people and he also shared some stories from his life experiences. What a rich week-end, full of good news shown, performed, told and felt. Music creates space and gathers people like nothing else… What a joyful week-end!