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Oil Check


I had big expectations for Greenbelt this year and as always Greenbelt delivered. After a long period of having very little or no relationship with God, an experience during my summer travels reminded me about who I was when I had the relationship compared to the person I was then. The problem was I had worked so hard on not having a relationship that it really felt like starting from scratch; even issues of belief were arising. However all this fell nicely around the time of Greenbelt and Greenbelt had always been a place I could work out problems I had with my faith.

At Greenbelt the aura alone helped; no matter what logic I've acquired through the year that refutes my belief in God, just walking into a tent filled with positive, saving the-world action dispels doubt. Then a far greater problem arose as my belief grew: I didn't want to come to God with this rotted soul I felt I had. I really get that the message of Christianity is 'come as you are' and maybe it's a pride thing or a shame thing, but I've never really accepted it. Maybe I'll never be perfect, but to not even try (or be able) to clean up your act before you meet the Big Man - that concept seemed pointless to me. You wouldn't attend a job interview if you were incapable of doing the job or you haven't attempted to get better at it with experience.

Bizarrely, it was through a cheesy Christian song, Give me Oil in my Lamp, Keep me Burning, that God spoke to me and helped me understand this idea of 'come as you are'. Thousands of people were singing this at the Sunday service (which elevated the message); all I could think about was this phrase in the song about oil to "KEEP ME BURNING" and I knew God was trying to speak to me. That's when I knew I wanted this relationship and His help. I had the lamp, the desire to do good things and to be that better person but the relationship was key. I want God's oil in my lamp to keep going and to shine brighter. I've felt before that forgiveness feels impossible and that this makes me a bad person if I can't forgive, but if we have that desire to forgive and we ask God to give us Love and Peace in our hearts, then I don't think we are coming to God as the shameful people we think we are.

I could have got this message elsewhere, at a Sunday service perhaps, but I'm not sure the message would have got through without thousands of people singing the songs to the heavens. The pure variety of Greenbelt allows for God to speak to people in many different ways. I went to several alternative worship sessions that were as thought provoking as they were different from each other, from a Gothic requiem to art-filled meditation - the variety truly seemed limitless and even when things didn't scratch me where I was itching I could see the effects they had on other people; for me that helped me get the whole 'come as you are' thing.

For us as a group of young people and adults it meant that we went from being fairly passive consumers, or at best selective participants, of what Greenbelt had on offer to active creators of a hospitable, engaging, encouraging, challenging space where people could feel God’s prompting on their lives. An incredible opportunity for us and the young people we took, and an immense privilege.

On a lighter note, what a weekend! The comedy, the music, spoken word, great food and fantastic times with friends. If anything it at least makes the portaloos worth it.

James