I’m sitting in the lounge (living room) of some of my dearest friends, Martin and Sally Poole, in Brighton, England. We haven’t seen each other in real life since before Covid lockdown. They were supposed to visit and stay with us in Nashville in the summer of 2020. I was supposed to visit them last May but Covid and then my covid fears prevented those visits.
So it was such a gift to arrive at the vicarage yesterday and hug them in real time!!!
Martin and I met when we were on a panel on Curating Worship at the Greenbelt Festival in the early 2000’s. We both were involved in curating worship and had our friend Mark Pierson to thank for it! Martin was the Worship curator for the Greenbelt festival for several years and invited me to come create/curate a Sacred Space prayer room for the festival in 2013. I used to come regularly to the festival to fill up my cup and learn from the creatives in the UK who were doing outside the box church and worship. He and I led the opening worship for the first Wild Goose Festival in 2011. Martin is the Vicar at St. Luke’s Prestonville and the pastor of Beyond Church,
Sally is a teacher and has an amazing gift of hospitality. We hit it off as soon as we met! In 2015 we came at Christmas and got to experience the Beach Hut Advent Calendar in REAL LIFE! For ten years, Martin, Sally and Beyond hosted the Beach Hut Advent Calendar on the sea front here. Each evening in December one of the beach huts would open it’s doors and inside would be a beautiful art display on the theme of the year. Sometimes schools would adopt a hut and sing carols and create the inside decor. Mulled wine and mince pies followed the opening of the Advent Hut door each evening regardless of the weather. It became a wonderful December tradition for the whole community.
Martin just launched a new book CHURCH BEYOND WALLS! and I am excited to have a real copy and cannot wait to read it! It’s the story of how creativity and getting out into the community can change the world. ” The goal and aim of this book is to help local churches everywhere recognize the opportunities for epiphanies, moments when the divine can break into human experience- wherever they are. It offers ideas and and shares resources, and builds confidence to enable them to create inspiring and stimulating encounters with the divine.” (from the book jacket). I am going to get Martin to write a freerangefriday on this to tell you more!
As I type this, I am so aware of God’s gifts of abundant love! Friendship is a true gift! and Kindred Spirits are hard to find! Martin and Sally are both!
This past few days of leading/curating the Finding your Thinplace Pilgrimage Retreat have been filled with so much abundance, so many gifts!
Why is it that we so easily forget, and so often doubt the abundance of God? We forget the loaves and fish, the healings, the water into wine.
This past few days I’ve experienced so much ABUNDANCE ! I am so grateful for the pilgrims who traveled with me! So grateful that I listened to the Holy Spirit last year and finally did a dream that I’ve had for 20 years! And I am grateful for all the friends who prayed for us! I had friends praying for the details of travel and for the weather that can be quite wet in late August and early September. (And all of the UK had a very wet summer.) I even had my friend Lynne pray against the MIDGES! And we had the most spectacular weather! The pilgrims got to see Scotland in all her glory! We didn’t even need our rain gear! We got wet in Oban but dried out and had a beautiful abundant tea with scones and sandwiches and chocolate brownies that were too good to be true! More abundant love from Jesus! The ferries and the trains all ran on time! The taxis showed up too! And Jesus was in all the details in our worship times and our walk abouts, and time of exploration and contemplation!
As my friend Kathy Escobar says! #beautyheals! And Scotland and Jesus healed us with beauty!
This weekend, I invite you to consider the ABUNDANCE of God. How have you experienced God’s gifts lately? Take a walk somewhere beautiful and ask Jesus to show you and remind you of his abundant love! Take some time and journal about how you have experienced the abundance of God in your life throughout the years. It’s always good to remember. Who are the friends you’ve encountered, the kindred spirits in your life who have been abundant gifts to you? Take time to thank Jesus for them and take a moment to connect with them by text, phone, a card.
TODAY Receive the wonderful ABUNDANCE of Jesus!
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. EPHESIANS 3: 14-19 THE MESSAGE