Just back from Keswick. We were meant to be there for the convention but due to a little thing called COVID-19 the main event was cancelled. We had decided early on to keep our booking for the lodge we were meant to stay in. This was partly in hope of at least a break. At worst if the whole holiday was cancelled we felt that taking a refund would actually just cut off our own noses to spite our faces. After all if we want to stay there again we need the owners to stay in business.
Well we had a lovely week. It only rained for two of the days, not bad by Lake District standards. Basically it was a week of reading, scrabble, gentle walks and catching up with family who had also kept their accommodation on.
The other great thing was that we started to look around and see that Keswick was obviously full of fellow Christians who had clearly done the same. The first positive from this was that whilst town and convention have at times had tense relationships, it was clear that the conventioners had not abandoned Keswick. Hopefully that will help the local economy a little
Furthermore as we started to meet old friends whether bumping into them in the market area or discovering they were staying two doors down from me, it highlighted something that I think some may have missed.
As the churches went online most of our conference and conventions rushed to follow suit. I have been very open in expressing my disappointment at this. I felt there was a real opportunity for the big events to take a sabbatical and maybe support what was happening as local churches on the ground shared resources.
The point is this. These events are great places to enjoy teaching though (and this is a good thing) I think that the days when you went for your annual expository feed before heading home are gone and you can access the same quality teaching at your local church or online. However there is a benefit to concentrated time in God’s Word for many but the benefit isn’t just in that. The benefit is the context of holiday and festival. The benefit is as much in being together with a wider gathering of God’s people. It is the reminder that we are part of something bigger.
My wife talks about the annual joy of bumping into people sometimes saying ” we were looking forward to seeing you here” and sometimes saying “oh what a lovely surprise I did not expect to bump into you.” This with the great congregation singing joyfully is for her a little foretaste of heaven.
So we did not have the tent, the seminars or the book stall this year but we did enjoy a significant element of the benefits of Keswick.
We are looking forward to next year. Hopefully this time with the full works. Singing, teaching and Jonathan Carswell enthusiastically promoting great books at unbelievable prices. We will also be enjoying those lesser noticed but equally important elements of Keswick.
Here is a reflection on “the quiet hills” to enjoy.