Tag Archives: Le Pas Opton

Reality on the menu please

LPO street party 1

The sun has reappeared after 24 hours of rain – God’s timing spot on as always because the blue skies returned just in time for Sunday lunchtime’s street party here at Le Pas Opton in the Vendee.

It’s something of a tradition now at Spring Harvest Holidays for the main entrance to be blocked off by tables and chairs and a bank of red-hot barbecues as families join in with their picnics. You see the people who have cooked pasta or made salads sitting next to those who have shot into the site’s shop and bought a pack of saucissons – and those who’ve just brought along a baguette!

But the great thing is that people who’ve never before spoken to each other sit side by side and chat like long-lost friends. As a former minister of mine used to say “well if I’m going to spend eternity with you I ought to find out something about you.”

Food was really important to Jesus, of course. He made sure the disciples caught enough fish after a fruitless night at sea because they needed to be able to feed themselves and sell some to make money; he feed 5,000 men (plus women and children) with a packed lunch; he enjoyed parties – especially with the wrong kind of people; he loved the conversations that came out of sitting at a meal with people.

And of course, on the night before he died – the night people were plotting to do away with him – he took bread and wine and turned a simple meal into a profound encounter. He took bread and broke it and declared it to be his body. He lifted up the wine and said it was his blood – a new covenant for the world for the forgiveness of sins.

As church we need to learn to a

ppreciate food for its own sake; that it’s good just to eat and be together. You don’t need an ulterior motive – ooh, perhaps if I make a really good cassoulet it may convince my next door neighbour that they ought to try Family Service on Sunday. Or perhaps they may just get to like you a bit!

Of course we want people to come to faith and discover Jesus for themselves but surely because they realise that the people who are in the church are Good News people in every way?

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The ‘how much more’ God

We are beginning almost a month in France as I come towards the end of a Sabbatical –  a gift from the Methodist Church.

It’s a chance to do a number of things and here all the cliches could come out: recharge the batteries; rest from the fight; find yourself; do something different. In a way they are all true and all wrong.

A sabbatical can be a glorious waste of time – and that may be just what you should do. I know of at least one friend who decided that he would spend the time reintroducing himself to his family because he spent so long away from them working that he believed, rightly, that he owed them the best gift: time.

For me, two months into the three, I’m beginning to hear something clear from God. Whether it will translate into anything usable for work I don’t know but I do know that I can sense him speaking in the place where we are now.

We’ve begun our time in France at Spring Harvest’s holiday Park Le Pas Opton. It’s our fourth visit and this time we’ve brought our little caravan to the Vendee at the beginning of a trip around six different caravan sites from the West coast to St Tropez, via St Etienne.

This morning, Christophe the site manager, was speaking at the morning worship and talked about logic, or rather the illogicality of God choosing to work with people like us to share his love in the world. He quoted Jesus (always a good idea, I find!) who, in Matthew’s Gospel, encourages people not to worry:

Matthew 7:

7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Christophe went on to talk about the logic of asking and receiving, seeking and finding, knocking and having something open but what struck me was the ‘how much more’ God. In this conversation where we can expect the obvious to happen – so doors open when you knock – comes a Father who surpasses the ordinary and works on the ‘how much more’ level.

I’m excited to explore more of this as the final sabbatical goes on. What does it mean to follow a ‘how much more’ God. How does it change expectations? What does it mean for ministry, for church, for the way church works?