Image by Getty Images via @daylifeAlways feel a bit wistful on the last day of something like this. Just as you're getting used to camping, and have worked out the good food vans, and also have a clear idea where the decent loos are, it all comes to an end. Also tends to be the day when you bump into friends you were hoping to see all weekend, but somehow didn't.
The final Greenbelt day kicked off with a session led by Nadia Bolz-Weber (from House for all Sinners and Saints in Colorado) on the process of preparing a sermon. I've heard plenty of talks on how to preach - most of them very sound and very dull - and given a few myself. This was much more interesting, as she talked us through her week. Starting with reading the text for Sunday on Tuesday morning, and then processing all the things that happened and trying to discern the gospel - the good news - for her community. Having done that, she then preached the sermon. She used a fantastic image of wrestling with the text all week, preaching the sermon, and walking away limping. Despite being associated with the 'emergent' movement, she doesn't go in for tech or trendy presentation. She quite likes the idea of chuch being a bit odd.
As a recovering addict (clean 20 yrs) and having had quite a life, some of that colour comes out in her speaking and language, but the Lutheran theology that helped her embrace the possibility of faith still runs through her thought in a very compelling way.
Then it was an opportune moment to deconstruct the tent - didn't want to be doing that a) in the rain, b) in the dark, c) during something I really wanted to go to. Tent down and packed and lunch eaten, it was off to hear Andy Graystone's talk: Parts of me are dying. Andy is director of the Church and Media Network, which seeks to resource both the Church and the media in relating to and understanding one another. He has worked for BBC religion and produced radio and TV programmes.
Andy has an early diagnosed cancer, and spoke in a very amusing and engaging way about his experiences, the choices before him, and how he understands what is happening to him. One point particularly stood out - the terminology about cancer. He is uncomfortable with the fighting/battling talk, along with hero/victim terminology. As he put it, he sometimes feels an unwilling conscript in a war, not that he wouldn't want to be clear of cancer - it's the culture and mindset those terms imply. He also talked through how it focusses the mind on whether you actually believe in life after death or not.
The it was off to mainstage for a bit of Ahab. 'folk flavoured country-rock' was the description - an American influenced Uk band. Good fun and great live. They will soon be supporting Bellowhead on tour. Bit more Iain Archer on mainstage, but having already seen him twice, had a last look around. Then back for Kate Rusby. I'm not a full-on folkie, but she's very accessible, her voice is great, and I've rarely seen someone enjoy performing live quite so much. Apparently her first Greenbelt experience was as a teenager in 1990!
Then it was time for us to leave. Ron Sexsmith and Mavis Staples were to follow, so it was a strong line-up, but the M5/M6 called and we wanted to get home on Monday. Whether you're a camper or go for the soft option of an off-site hotel, whether you like it loud or quiet, whether you're a Christian or not, there'll be something somewhere in a Greenbelt festival that will make it worth your while coming.