Saturday, 10 March 2012

Jesus loves coasters!

Reflections on a fun filled fortnight in Florida

Okay first admission – I love the Parks and I love riding the Coasters, the scarier the better although I do love the fun ones particularly when you end up getting soaked!

That’s one reason to love the Parks in Florida. Although we did have some cold, wet and windy weather, on the whole it was up in the 80’s and that’s in February.  If you get wet you soon dry off; well if you have canny enough to dress in clothes that will dry easily, so no jeans.

The other thing I love about the Parks is the way you rarely hear a raised voice which is truly remarkable given the vast crowds, the sun, the waiting in lines for rides and shows, etc. (In the USA you line up, Brits queue) There is also little bad language no boozy folk shouting and carrying on, just truck loads of folks of all shapes, sizes, ages, creeds and colours just out to have wall to wall fun. You do see the occasional person all funned out though, usually flopped on  a bench or having five minutes on a wall or somewhere, surrounded by bags as others of their party are still funning it up.

The other common feature is T shirts, and again I didn’t see any that were really rude or offensive. People seem to know instinctively that this is family fun time. Of course in the lines you get to reading the messages, and some are really funny, clever or just weird and many tell you where folk have been or where they are from.

So, a question related to wearing a T shirt – do you do God on holiday? A T shirt with a tasteful Christian message can be a great witness as you line up and people spend up to 45 minutes to an hour behind you.  But it seems some folks don’t do God on holiday especially those who are directly involved in some way by being employed and working for the Church. 

When I am somewhere like Florida I find it is just so different that the practicalities of work and ministry slips away, which is great. You do need to lay them aside from time to time.  However I find God coming to me in many others ways. One of them is riding coasters. The awesome rush, the edge, the wind on your face, everything screams out that you are alive and it is wonderful, fantastic and awesome. You scream and laugh and get totally immersed for a few brief moments in a totally other world. 

The T shirt I wanted to get made would have something in the line of ‘Jesus is with me and he loves coasters!’ We have to learn that Jesus is not a puritanical kill joy. Yes there is sadness in the world and we should be mindful of that. However there are times to go on holiday and play.  That is another major plus for the Parks and if you do not know how to play you won’t enjoy them.  ‘Unless you become as a little child…’

So, we do God on holiday and that includes trying to get along to worship on Sunday which does take away a whole morning but thankfully in Florida we have found a fantastic Church in St John’s Episcopal Church. It is just great to be there in something a little more real. Yes, I accept that Parks are a fantasy world; they sell a dream, however in Disney’s world, ‘dreams can come true.’

 I for one dream that we might see something like the Park atmosphere replicated across the world; fun, laughter, awe and wonder and people working together from all across the globe.   It’s called the Kingdom of God.

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