New Word Alive 2009
Last week I, along with a couple of thousand others, attended week 1 of New Word Alive 2009 at Pwllehi in North Wales. New Word Alive is a cooperative ministry among a number of Christian groups. Week 1 was especially, but not exclusively, geared towards university students. I was there teaching a seminar entitled “Connecting With Cultures”.
What made it a special time (for me, at least) included the beautiful sunny weather we experienced — what you cannot predict in Wales but when it comes it is awesome.
Moreover, the magisterial morning Bible readings from 1 Corinthians 1-7 by Vaughan Roberts (rector of St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford) helped us hear from the apostle Paul what is true spirituality — spirituality which is consequently true humanity and true living.
Capping everything off, however, was the simple yet profound joy of meeting up with friends. The Starbucks on site must have done a roaring business! There is a richness in connecting once again with special people.
For someone like myself who’s moved way too many times, these re-connections bring a deep thanksgiving for what is constant. This constancy isn’t static (our children are older and some now have their own children; our work and ministries aren’t exactly what we did 10-20 years ago; and, er, we don’t look exactly as we once did).
Constancy is more a matter of a continued experience of what the German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, called “life together”. This life together is the result not only of shared experiences and location; it comes from the mercy, kindness and grace of the one who is the author of life — the one who gave his life so we might have life.
New Word Alive was a reminder to me of the “realness” or the “concreteness” (we can call it even the mundane if we remember mundanus (Latin) doesn’t mean boring or dull) of the life the Lord Jesus Christ brings and offers men and women. What is even more amazing is the promise that what is real and concrete now is actually only partial and is shot through with “anticipating glory”. And if North Wales is awesome in the nice weather of “now” and our friendships and reconnections “now” are special how can we even begin to imagine the “now” of God’s promised new creation!