it's taken me a few days to recover from the london mind body spirit festival. it ran for 6 days and whilst i wasn't on the dekhomai stand every day i was shattered by the end of it. fortunately i've managed to get a few days off this week and am just about bouncing back before the ReSource weekend in Reading this weekend (which i'm looking forward to).
taking inspiration from john drane, ben edson and sanctus1, steve hollinghurst, mark berry and others we decided to take the plunge encouraged by colin from edenpeople to book a small stand in partnership with him, cms, grace and moot. the name dekhomai seemed to capture the welcome we hoped to provide for people (the word is greek and means the welcoming place or welcoming a stranger or to receive). the thinking was that if this is a place where spiritual seekers (and shoppers) go, then why not have something representing the christian tradition which has so many riches in terms of spirituality (the christian reflex in these festivals has often been to avoid them). those of us planning the stand were coming from the alternative worship tradition and/or charismatic tradition so we blended the two approaches on the stand. we had some stations - a laptop with the online labyrinth and the lavalamp prayer, images of christ from around the world, a plasma ball meditation, and we offered foot massage, a destiny words table, and free healing with the laying on of hands and anointing with oil...
once the first hour had drifted by and it got busier we pretty much had people visit us non stop - nearly everybody that came was open to being prayer for. some specifically wanted prayer for healing, others had a foot massage and were then open to being prayed for. to be honest the hands on massage, talking and praying with people seemed to interest people more than the stations though the destiny words table was used quite a few times.
so reflections in a random fashion...
it was brilliant to be there
there seemed to be about 70% women at the festival. we need more women on the team if we do it again.
we hardly sold anything - people wanted the free stuff.
people were amazingly open, very happy to talk and very happy to be prayed for. the challenge was that their openness to us meant that you might then see them on the next stand trying something else out! so jesus is in danger of being reduced to another god in the pantheon or a consumer choice among many others.
the blend of alt worship and charismatic was great. for me and many others the gifts of the spirit seemed to make so much more sense in thsi context than in church circles. we needed to trust god to come and speak and lead us.
god was present. i often had a sense of god's presence when i prayed with people but what was more interesting was how many visitors we had who came in and pretty much said the same thing. they weren't christians but said things like - god is here; there is a lot of energy in here; can i sample your energy?; ooo - it's the old holy ghost i sense; when i came round the corner i could sense something different and it's you guys; it's very peaceful in here; i've been told to come and visit this stand - i've heard it's interesting... and when we had prayed for people they might have shed tears, sensed tngling, healing, heat or peace and so on...
i was surprised how many healers we prayed for. maybe it's because they are amongst the spiritual seekers as opposed to the shoppers and tourists? but one of the days i was there we prayed for a lot of reike healers in particular - and they were very open to being prayed for. why were they coming to us?
we didn't have many negative reactions. a few were turned off when they found out we were christians or saw the images of christ but not many.
it was a privilege to pray and bless people and simply to be there.
it did our faith the power of good.
there is a big challenge about what we think is going on when we pray for people and what they might be thinking - there is no theological capital that they bring on the whole.
anyway lots to think about and lots to learn... lots of others have done this before and we have much to learn from them and their experience and wisdom. it's no surprise but the thought police are always out when you do this kind of thing sniffing heresy on the wind and a slide down a slippery slope. it drives me nuts though i try not to react to it. but better to be stepping out and taking some risks than sitting at home knowing everything, being pure and avoiding the world methinks...