No, it’s not a Wurzels tribute to the group of Swedes that brought us Mamma Mia. It is in fact a Christian conference that takes place in Aberystwyth.
I could just direct you to other people’s blogs about the week, Gary Brady and Guy Davies have both written a fair bit about it. However, although it’s gonna require more thought than a lot of my posts, I actually feel it would be wrong not to write something about a week that I found so challenging and simultaneously so encouraging.
So, Sunday we went for the usual Geoff Thomas option, arrived at the church 50mins before the service started and there was already a queue of about 100* people outside. The stand-out memory I have of the preaching was the brilliantly succint “HE DIE; WE NO DIE.” You can read the sermons in written form here, personally I keep checking the Alfred Place MP3 page hoping to download the audio, especially the Monday morning one that I missed.
*100 is a very rough guess, it could have been less, but I did a more precise estimate of how many people were inside when it was full and reckon it was around 550. Hymn singing sounded better in the church than in the Great Hall, despite the Great Hall containing roughly double the number of people.
Monday evening was Jonathan Thomas. I thought he was good, probably my favourite of the evening sessions, we’ll come back to him in extratime.
Tuesday morning the conference was fully underway with the first of Joel Beeke’s addresses on Contagious Christian Living. Each morning he spoke on a different person in the Bible who’s life was a contagious example of a different aspect of how a Christian should live.
Tuesday was Jephthah & his daughter (Judges 11:34-40) and their Sacrificial Submission. I don’t remember hearing before of the theory that Jephthah didn’t actually kill his daughter, I thought he made a convincing argument. It does annoy me though (I’m sure there’s a more appropriate word than annoy, but I can’t think of it right now) that if the hebrew word translated ‘burnt offering’ does not necessarily mean burnt offering, the translators seem to me to have done a pretty poor job on this passage, which begs the question, what else have they screwed up on?
Wednesday was Bartimaeus’ Christ-Centredness (Mark 10:46-52), overall I found this one less helpful than the other days, but in the last 15mins or so it was very encouraging to hear that Joel isn’t quite the super-confident evangelist that might have been expected.
I bought the CDs of these main addresses, and spent Saturday afternoon when I got back home turning them into audiobooks for my iPod. So far I’ve listened to the first two again, maybe I’ll add to the above when I’ve listened to Jacob and Daniel again.
I only went to one of the extratime sessions (for 15-25 year olds), but it was a good ‘un, a question panel featuring Joel Beeke and Jonathan Thomas (and a woman I forget the name of). Someone had submitted a question about whether Christians should go to the cinema.
The question was addressed to Joel first, Joel does not watch any films, doesn’t even own a TV and suggested that there are much better things a Christian can do with their time. The question was then passed over to Jonathan, who had mentioned a few films in his Monday evening talk, he describes his thinking here (there’s some amusing stuff afterwards too). Basically the conclusion was that watching films is not necessarily bad, but we shouldn’t be filling our minds with rubbish. I personally know that my head does contain a lot of rubbish (lines from Simpsons episodes, Bill Bailey jokes, song lyrics…), Joel spoke of the thousands of Bible verses his head contains. I’m certainly thinking a lot more about how I’m spending my time than I was before.