It’s not a good thing to tell congregations you wish you were somewhere else, but I had to confess yesterday to two churches that a big part of me didn’t want to be with them … I really wanted to be at Glastonbury.
Apart from one visit to Greenbelt in the early 80s I’ve never been to a festival, so it was a bit odd to feel that way but something in me was drawn to Worthy Farm last weekend both by the line-up and I guess what you could say was something in the air; something that felt profoundly God-breathed.
There are three artists I want to see live and have yet to witness. One of them – Paul Simon – was filling the Sunday afternoon ‘legends’ slot. Even with a throat infection and what he called ‘too short a time for it to be really an experience’ his song-writing would have been worth the journey. The other two are James Taylor and Billy Joel.
But there were three moments that shone through. Elbow always manage to produce wonderfully anthemic moments and One Day Like This, with its call to “throw those curtains wide”, had Guy Garvey conducting the massed ranks of fans in full chorus.
I’ve never quite been able to make up my mind about Coldplay. Sometimes I think they are great – Fix You is a sublime song which I have used as a worship reflection with images on many occasions – but too often the songs are predictable in shape and style. However, on Saturday they got better and better in what many people said was their best Glastonbury performance. They finished with what, as someone passionate about reaching people who have never encountered Jesus, sounded like a call to the Church not to get stuck.
I turn the music up, I got my records on
From underneath the rubble sing a rebel song
Don’t want to see another generation drop
I’d rather be a comma than a full stop
Oh for a church that consciously refuses to be a full stop to people meeting with the Saviour!
But without question, the most moving moment was the U2 set on Friday evening, as Bono led thousands – a willing, impromptu choir – in these words:
I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colours will bleed into one
But yes I’m still running
You broke the bonds
You loosed the chains
You carried the cross
And my shame
And my shame
You know I believe it.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For