This is a rough transcript from something I shared in the ‘Good News in the News’ slot on Cara Bentley’s Daytime show on Premier Radio.
Well, this week in the UK has of course been dominated by the Prime Minister’s announcement about lockdown being phased out – a ‘roadmap to normality’…
And I think generally there’s been a surprise at the pace of that, with the most notable aspect being the potential date of 21st June for all limits on social contact to be gone.
And one of the things that’s stood out in the last few days since Monday has been the mad rush to book summer holidays..
The company TUI said bookings for foreign trips increased by 500% , and Hoseasons had sold 10,000 UK breaks by Wednesday.
But alongside the rush for holidays, has been the prospect of Festivals.
For example, on Wednesday, Reading and Leeds festival, tweeted, “We can’t wait to get back to the fields – let’s go!” – and they’ve now announced headlines acts and said, because of the progress with the vaccination programme, they believe we will be able to have festivals in late August.
I’ve got a mate who’s a DJ and he’s rushing to get his new tracks ready for spinning this summer…
And so some people are clearly absolutely buzzing, but others are going ‘Surely not! Can it be true?! Is it possibly safe?’
And so what’s the good news in the news…
I want to focus on that joy – there’s real joy here isn’t there, because it’s been so hard, so so hard…
And I think there are two things to say:
Made for Celebration
Firstly as Christians we want to yes, we are made for celebration, we are made for being with others, for the hope of the festival, the holiday, the party, the gathering. We are made for coming together and for rest and celebration.
Even those of us who’d say we don’t like a big crowd, actually if we’re with the right people, people we feel safe with – we know how good that is. And indeed how far the last 12 months have taken us from that.
And Christianity says that we’re not made to be on our own, we’re made to be part of something bigger. We’re made to be caught up in rejoicing in something outside of ourselves.
That desire absolutely flows out of what God made us for.
A Greater Party
But secondly, for me the flip-side of that is we don’t know whether it will all go to plan… we don’t know how many of those bookings will be able to fulfilled. Will the data do what the government hopes it will?
And even if the holidays and festivals happen – and it’ll be so good if they can happen safely – but even then, the parties fizzle and the festivals end. And of course people are already talking about being priced out of summer holidays this year, & of course then there’s the sad reality that there’ll be a lot of loved ones missing from the party this year…
But we have a hope beyond summer 2021. There’s a greater festival, a greater party, a greater rest.…
And I think often we don’t get excited about the prospect of heaven, because maybe we think of clouds and harps and not having much to do…
But in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah talks about a feast of rich food, for all kinds of peoples, a banquet of vintage wine, best of meats – that’s a bbq and a half!
And the book of Revelation says the new heavens and a new earth will be like a wedding feast, where we’re caught up in praise, rejoicing together, not on our own, but with a vast number. We’ll be praising the God who is worthy, the Lamb who is slain, finding lasting rest in Jesus Christ.
One of our family favourite songs through lockdown has been by a ‘kids’ song’ by the Christian singer Michael Tinker, called ‘There’s party coming soon’:
There’s a party coming soon, and the entrance price is free,
There’s a party coming soon, Christ has paid for you and me,
There’s a party coming soon, satisfaction guaranteed,
There’s a party coming soon, it will meet your every need.
Christians are party people. We know we were made to be caught up in something bigger than ourselves, and the hope of the gospel, whatever this summer looks like, is that there’s a party coming soon.