Sunday, as you might expect in a busy parish with the vicar away, was pretty full on once again - so I was glad that I'd programmed a "holiday" into the evening, in the form of some worship stations for the youth group's last proper session this year.
The preceeding days had left no time for preparation, so we went for a fairly minimalist approach in terms of number and complexity of stations, but even so preparations were pretty intense, and I needed all the help and goodwill of my splendid older children to be ready in time...but when everything was installed, it was a good and peaceful place to be.
Our theme was holiday/holy day.
Drawing on the lectionary, which featured both the sending out of the 72 and the sending out of the 12, the 1st station invited reflection on what/who we would choose to take with us as we set out for time aside with God...and what we might long to leave behind. (There were pages with a suitcase printed on them to write your list)
Remembering that when we slow down we have more hope of noticing those good and beautiful things we tend to take for granted, the next station involved folding a prayer of thanks inside a paper flower and floating it in a bowl of water...contrary to everyone's expectations (except mine...I always trust any suggestions from either Jenny or Jonny Baker!) these floated and the buds opened, offering the prayer to God
Since the one thing we inevitably take away with us is ourselves, there was the opportunity to write or draw in sand something that we sought God's help in changing....we could then smooth over the sand before moving on, - representing forgiveness and a new start
On holiday, we usually need to know where we are going...though the journey can be as important as the destination...so there was a pencil labyrinth to follow, with an invitation to take it slowly, imagine an ideal landscape to travel through remembering that safe arrival is a given with a labyrinth
At the centre of the room was sanctuary a tent (thanks, Maggi - the whole thing grew from this)...offering shelter, space to reflect (HS looped some material from "Tune in Chill Out" and we projected it so that you could read if inside the tent, while relaxing on bean bags) and refreshment in the form of fair trade chocolate. In my determination to show that God was nothing if not generous, I overdid the suplies for the first couple of groups, so they got the feeling that it really might be inexhaustible and proceeded to eat their fill and beyond...A bit of crisis management was needed (thank you, Hattie Gandhi)....but as supplies appeared more limited, so greed was tempered with consideration, and while 3 large bars fed 8 people, the remaining 2 fed 12 with left overs to encourage the clear up process.
Life in the tent was a bit wobbly (no pop-up tents left in Argos, so we used a standard pegged model, with assorted weights holding it up) but it was nonetheless a lovely place to be, and though it almost collapsed several times, there was always someone around ready to rebuild it and make it as beautiful as before.
Responses from the youth group were pretty positive, getting more thoughtful and prayerful as the evening wore on...and it was certainly what I needed at the end of a long day.