Birthday wishes on the Greenbelt tree
At Greenbelt this year, PCN and our partners erected a large plywood cut-out tree, on which Festival goers were invited to hang a wish or prayer for the world, for the church or for Christianity. PCN volunteer Nicola Phelan has been collating the results.
There were 271 messages from all ages and I've arranged them into themes reflecting their different concerns and hopes. Each section is illustrated with a few typical quotes. Incidentally, we loved the pictures from our younger contributors.
‘That I leave it a better place than I found it’
‘That it will be a good world for me when I grow up’
1. Not surprisingly world peace and the end of war and violence were mentioned most (68). The hope for poverty to end and all needs to be met came next (34).
‘That there is no war, no poverty and everyone gets along’
2. Next most popular in this section are equality and inclusivity in the world (16). Sharing and Loving neighbour as oneself with specific concerns about racism, sexism, homophobia and for the acceptance of gay marriage.
‘That people would change their minds about different people so they might not judge them’
3. There were also concerns about faith in our world - specifically freedom of thought and belief’ (3), knowing God’s love/Jesus/following the way of Jesus (7), understanding between people of different faiths and none (2).
‘For the love, peace, justice and wholeness of Christ to be known’
‘The end of hypocrisy’
4. There were concerns for the environment
‘For people to stop destroying the world and heal it!’
'That humanity realises that all species have the right to exist without exploitation or cruel treatment’
And how might all this happen? Kindness, harmony, friendship, joy, fun, happiness, getting along, working together, goodness, love, justice, peace and compassion were all mentioned (18).
‘Open eyes, that those who are able to make a positive difference will’'
CHRISTIANITY AND THE CHURCH
'My hope for the church is to love the world more’
1. Once again inclusiveness and equality figured highly (22), that people should all feel welcomed into church, including children and the marginalised, anyone who feels excluded now
‘That we will learn to value and welcome gay and straight people equally’
'Bring more people together’
‘Women Bishops in the CofE’
‘Real authentic inclusivity! To truly mean that all are welcome!’
‘That all Christians will embrace equality and acceptance for all’
2. Concern for justice and needs being met.
‘Please God help and look after people who are suffering. Thank you Lord’
3. For church to be friendly and joyful
‘For Fun and Friendship’
‘God to sing Happy Birthday’
4. There were wishes for the Good News expressed within Christianity to be shared and to spread, but this was expressed in different ways, reflecting the diversity found within the church and at Greenbelt.
‘More people to become Christians and discover Christ’
'to be received by all’
‘that it will allow Christ to be free to exercise His power and authority in the world- and not be a caged lion’
‘to be a place where Jesus is worshipped’
‘to reflect the Love of Jesus in a way which is relevant and understandable’
‘to be embraced as the ‘Way’ rather than a set of rules’
'to work together as one global church to bring God’s kingdom on earth’
‘Unity in Diversity’
‘to follow Jesus don’t just worship him’
‘to have open and honest non-judgemental conversations with people of other faiths and none’
‘for us to step outside our comfort zones and save lives’
‘encouragement to ask questions, and not be told what the right answer is'
‘to act in unison and let go of our fears and judgements about one another. I want us all to act in full awareness and enlightenment’
‘To become visible, relevant and united in living the life of Jesus authentically, and compassionately, in every community, today’
For Greenbelt as a force for good (12):
‘that Greenbelt will be around for another 40 years. It makes the world a better place’
'my hope for Christianity is Greenbelt! Thank you for 40 years of hope, refreshment, encouragement and JOY!’