Did you know that Old Testament book of Leviticus had a message about chair-stacking? Tucked away among all the ceremonial and dietary regulations is the warning that chairs of different colours should not be stacked together.
Well, not, actually. And Stephen Cave doesn’t think so either: it’s just handy to have a Bible reference when you are giving instructions. But different colours of chairs need to be stacked in different piles.
What does all that have to do with New Horizon? It’s what happens on the last night. Within a fairly short space of time from the end of the evening celebration, the floor space is empty as chairs are stacked and taken outside to waiting trailers, to be put away for another year. Later today the tents will be taken down to be stored and soon all that will remain of New Horizon 2011 is the empty site on the edge of the university campus.
And what God has done in various lives during the week. For that is what New Horizon is about.
On the final evening Stephen Cave shared some of the stories that had been coming in. Like the story of the man who chose to spend his 70th birthday week at New Horizon rather than on holiday in Canada: that’s what it means to him. Or the story of the couple who spend a week later in the summer listening to CDs of the talks. Or the young people who have grown up through the children’s and youth work. The 8 year old girl who prayed with her dad because she wanted to become a Christian. The 12 year old who took money out of her bank so that she could contribute to the urgent financial need. Or the person who heard God’s call last year and is starting theological training in the autumn.
Those were just some of the stories. Many more people have their stories. Some of them made their way to the prayer room to ask God for help with difficult situations or to dedicate themselves to him. Some left notes in the quiet room. One man left a cigarette packet there as he handed his addiction over to God.
James Smyth, chairman of the New Horizon board, paid tribute to the army of people involved in making the event possible: there are some 500 volunteers.
There has been frank talk about finances and the possibility that the event would have to stop, if funding does not come in. As of the end of Friday night, the indicators are good, although it will be a few more weeks before the final position is clear.
For his final talk on Proverbs, Vaughan Roberts took the theme of friendship. Friendship makes good men better and makes bad men worse. The secret of friendship – as with all spiritual blessings – is that the more you give, the more you get. In the words of Mother Teresa, loneliness is the greatest disease.
- True friendship is close. We need close friends, but we need to be discerning and we need to be deliberate. Make sure you have friends in your inner circle.
- True friendship is constant. A friend loves at all times.
- True friendship is candid.
- True friendship is careful. It doesn’t speak too quickly and it avoids gossip. It knows how to say the right thing in the right way at the right time. It requires emotional sensitivity.
- True friendship is Christ-centred. He is the answer to our deepest failings and to our greatest aspirations in this area. He forgives our deepest failures and meets our deepest longings, longings which we cannot have met in other people.
The Lord Jesus can be as real to us as a human friend. The marks of true friendship from Proverbs are seen in him.
- He is closer than a brother.
- He is constant: he will never leave us or forsake us.
- He is candid: loves us too much to leave us the way we are.
- He is careful: he will not crush a bruised reed.
So New Horizon 2011 ends. The plan – as God allows – is for New Horizon 2012 from August 11-17 (will this coincide with summer?) and planned speakers are Simon Guillebaud, Malcolm Duncan and Calisto Odede.