The best part of Relay 3 is the presentations on peoples years, (actually the best part is the Bonfire, but that doesn’t work for this post…the presentations are a pretty close second and that’s good enough for me). These always feel a little like a AA meeting with lots of honesty, tears and acknowledgement of a higher power, without whom things would have been impossible.
I got to do one this year as I’m leaving the staff team (sob). I went for honesty, for the Kath who is a little bit vulnerable, not very confident and stuffed full of stinking pride, wanting to be liked, wanting to be God. It is strange looking back at my Relay past. I can clearly remember my first Relay conference about 8 years ago, the sheer freedom of grace, of knowing there were no levels anymore and that God really did want to use me. As time has worn on, I’ve felt more like the older brother in the Prodigal son story than the younger. It’s all too easy to grumble, complain and think I’ve earned more by sticking around for a bit.
The brilliant thing about Relay conferences as a Staff worker is that they have reminded me of what the Father reminds the son of in the story. To come and join the party, to remember God is always with me and that the invite to the party extends to me in my pride and stubbornness. All He has is mine, why not join in and rejoice? Each conference I’ve joined the party of grace, the party of a God who loves us anyway and who is committed to stubbornly redeeming and delighting in us.
This quote pretty much sums up how life is, as we discover that our sin doesn’t get less as we go on with Jesus. It’s a hard reality to face up to, but there is a better hope than our ability to keep loving God and living His ways.
“But alas! These my golden expectations have been like the south sea dreams. I have lived hither to a poor sinner, and I believe I shall die one. Have I then gained nothing? Yes I have gained that which I once would rather have been without – such accumulated proof of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of my heart as I hope by the Lord’s blessing has, in some measure, taught me to know what I mean when I say, ‘behold I am vile!’ I was ashamed of myself then, I am ashamed of myself now and I expect to most ashamed of myself when he comes to receive me to himself. But oh! I rejoice in HIM that HE is not ashamed of me!”