Summer Madness 2012
I recently returned from a great weekend showcasing the Christian Aid Collective at the Summer Madness festival at Glenarm Castle in Northern Ireland.
Summer Madness is Ireland’s biggest Christian youth festival and this year included speakers like Shane Claiborne, Mike Pilavachi, Danielle Strickland and Duffy Robbins with performances from Four Kornerz, Silhouette, Andy Flannagan and The Rend Collective leading worship at the main sessions.
It was a great weekend of worship, teaching, music, zorbing, climbing, cheese-burgers, coffee, mud, rancid toilets, rain and sunshine.
In between my 'hard-work' standing behind the Christian Aid Collective stall for hours on end I managed to squeeze in a few seminars and main-stage sessions, which I really enjoyed.
As I listened to various different speakers one message seemed to be coming through to me loud and clear. This was all about “community”.
One of the speakers at Summer Madness, Shane Claiborne, lives in a Christian community in Philadelphia, USA called the Simple Way. After he did a seminar there was a brief Q&A session. He was asked how he maintains his passion for social justice and responded that "it was being in a community of like-minded people". "Notice how a fire goes out when the coals are separated from one another, but when the embers are brought close they keep each other burning".
During Mike Pilavachi’s talk he spoke about God being the trinity, three in one, and therefore since God is community we too, made in God’s image, are designed for community. Mike reflected that the first time in the bible where God said something “is not good” was when he said “It’s not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2:18).
This got me thinking about my own work with Christian Aid. It can be hard to stay passionate about social justice and poverty eradication when it seems that the whole world is rigged against the poor in favour of the rich. I once heard the comedian Sean Lock joke that he used to care about climate change until he visited America and saw all the SUVs and air-conditioning. It was like he had “turned up at an earthquake with a dustpan and brush”. What difference can one person make?
In contrast to this, Summer Madness reminded me of a wonderful truth: God never asked us to do anything alone!
We are made for community and when we gather together we can inspire, encourage, support and spur each other on. When we speak together with one voice we can make ourselves heard, when we act together we can change the world.
As I said at the start, we’re all in this together (you didn’t think I was quoting David Cameron did you?) Of course not…