So I have just enjoyed a week at New Wine United. The summer Christian festival hosts over 24,000 people over two weeks. People come together from all over the UK for some teaching and worship – here is a link if you are interested: New Wine United
I love New Wine United, it’s brill, full of good things from God. It’s a chance to gain confidence in yourself and your Christian life and grow your faith. Imagine the scene, over 10,000 people of all ages in tents or caravans, camping out on Bath and Wells Showground…being nice to each other all week, learning about God and thinking happy thoughts. I think that sometimes to grow in faith you need a few faith-stretching situations, where life is a little less comfortable and I am grateful to New Wine for providing this, in the form of queues. Queues for all sorts of things, portable loo’s and showers, coffee, cake and even donkey rides. There is nothing like queueing for a shower at 6am with a whole bunch of Christians to give your faith a good stretch.
Now, there are two things I feel I need in the morning: coffee and a shower. I am not prepared to compromise on those things, even in the most basic of settings. So I would get up each morning, grab my stuff and make a mad dash for the showers. As you leave the tent, even from a long way off you can see others heading in the same direction, towels in hand and a look of grim determination stretched across their faces. Your eyes meet, both of you speed up. You glance frantically ahead, analysing their time of arrival and comparing it to your own. You leave the road, cut across the grass… you’re doing it, you are going to beat them. You arrive second in line at the same time, then it dawns on you: You are at a Christian camp. You can see that they are realising the same thing. You look at each other, smile (which is difficult at 6am) and the conversation goes something like this-
“Ah! You go first.”
“No, please you.”
“No after you, I really don’t deserve to be second in line.”
“No you really do, Jesus loves you, you are special, go first.”
“But aren’t the first last and the last first? You go?”
“No you, God has given me a heart to serve the people, after you.”
At this point a 3rd person arrives and takes the second place, assuming you are enjoying a nice chat on the grass. Disgruntled you take 3rd and 4th places and decide that being a servant is overrated.
So, now you are in the Queue and I would like to remind you about Christian queuing etiquette.This is not O.K-
- If you are some way back in the queue, to say loudly “Has anyone actually checked to see if the showers are all taken?” That is rude.
- If you are some way back in the queue after saying that last sentence loudly, stepping out of the queue and checking each shower door to see if they are empty. This is also rude.
What you are really saying to the four people in front of you is-
“I have an issue with trust, I am not sure that you lot look very bright and think that you may not have thought to check the cubicles before queuing. I think rather a lot of my own judgement and have an extraordinary ability to take charge in tricky or perhaps most situations.”
However, I will admit that I was part of a lengthy queue for the loo in the market place on Tuesday, where it turned out that we were all queueing for one loo. When the other 6 were free. On reflection I felt that the blame lay squarely on the shoulders of the first person who should have pointed out that she was not the beginning of a queue, but was merely waltzing in and out. Whoever she was.
- It is not O.K. to save 15 spaces in the queue for friends and family. I will never get back the hour I queued for that Donkey ride. As much as I loved to see your children, one after another, after another, after another, bouncing up and down on the back of that donkey… my faith was stretched.
- It is not O.K to queue for showers in a towel. Enough said.
Now another essential queue you might want to get to grips with is the Main Arena, Coffee Labyrinth. This works brilliantly in theory. Thank goodness for the truly lovely and patient coffee makers that served here. We love you, you kept us going!
On the whole, I love a good queue. A chance to meet a new person, crack some queue related jokes and have a giggle. However there are times when you know that Jesus’ love and grace is not flowing out of you. That a queue may not bring out your best side or that your anxiety about getting a caffeine fix overrides your ‘I might need the loo at any moment’ concerns. So, for that I bring you a ‘How to not queue at New Wine’ checklist-
- Shower at 3am or 3pm.
- Make your coffee at the tent and take it with you.
- Never use the loo’s outside the Main Arena.
Unfortunately I am unable to manage the third point, as I have the smallest bladder in the world. I know that I will need the loo at some point during the Main Arena Celebrations. I have a choice, either queue for 40 mins before it starts (therefore giving up all hope of a good seat and coffee) or go at some point during the celebration. The problem with this, is that I do not like missing out. I don’t want to miss the singing at the beginning (love it). I don’t want to miss the talk (might miss the bit for me). I don’t want to miss the prayer ministry at the end (I might get to pray for someone or be prayed for).
So I have developed a plan… Go straight in, get coffee and seat. Then enjoy singing. When the band trade the feet stomping,crowd jumping, fist pumping songs for the more reflective, quieter songs, I know that a) They are winding us down to be good listeners for the talk and b) They will not do any prayer ministry (as they leave that to the end). This is my moment people! As all around me stand with hands out, eyes shut I begin to barge past.”Excuse me, sorry, excuse me…sorry, I am such a pain” etcI get out, get to loo and get back in all before the crowd have sat down. Nicely done I feel. Therefore I get to enjoy the talk and don’t have to pray for people after shaking with a lack of bladder control that could be mistaken for other things.
I recommend that you give New Wine United a try, it’s worth all the queues!