If you know me, you know I like hats. I am led to believe that I have inherited my follicular genetics from my Grandfather on my mother’s side. I therefore don’t have much hair which means in a country where the ozone is thin not only do I need a hat to keep my head warm in the winter, I need one to keep the sun off in the summer! Hats are everywhere in my life. I have one in the car (emergency hat) several on our coat stand (for sport’s, gentle walks, just going out etc.) My life is truly ‘hat-tastic’
But at the weekend away I found myself wearing several different kinds of hat. Some of which I was not expecting.
I started with my taxi driver hat. I had the joy of collecting Pete Henare and Simon and Rachel Garner who had flown in from Wellington and were serving us at the weekend.
As we pulled up at Living Springs I got out of the car and was immediately ushered into an office, handed a load of keys and clip boards and was marched into the kitchen and introduced to the staff there. I suddenly and unexpectedly had the camp liaison officer hat thrust on my head. With a headful of information (none of which I could remember) I went to the main auditorium. Time for my Roadie and PA hat. Having helped set that up I donned my husband and dad hat and went to find our accommodation and see if the kids were ok. (Lesley had sorted the room obviously and unsurprisingly my kids were nowhere to be seen.) At dinner time, it was time to put on my wrangling hat and organise a clean-up team for the meal. When dessert came out it was ice cream server hat time.
Then onto the first meeting which I was leading so on went my meeting leading hat with loads of notices, worshiping God, trying to discern what He was saying and where He was taking us. Then an interview with Pete Henare.
After the meeting some gentle jazz and fun conversation took me to bed time. The only time I don’t wear a hat!
I never sleep particularly well the first night in a new bed and this wasn’t helped when my son woke me just as I was drifting off at 2am. To cut a long story short I found myself driving back home to pick up more bedding while he slept in my sleeping bag…
Back at Living Springs the next morning it was time to put my meeting leading hat back on, at least that was the plan when I was suddenly kitchen liaison man again. A few deep breaths were taken. Keep calm and carry on.
And so it went on.
Thankfully I have a hat that was placed on my head many years ago and has never fallen off or been ripped off, or knocked off and I have never been able to take off. It’s my child of God hat. God called me by name and put it on my head. It says to me constantly “you are my child”, “you are loved”, “my grace is sufficient”, “my people are your family”, “sacrifice for them as I have sacrificed for you”.
With that hat on I found such joy throughout every aspect of the weekend.
Joy in hearing God’s voice, joy in being with church family from all over our nation, joy in not seeing my kids because they are having such a great time with brothers and sisters in Christ, joy in singing God’s praises and seeing young adults who I have had a hand in nurturing leading us in worship with excellence and maturity, joy in meeting new friends, joy in re- uniting with old friends. Laughs over dinner, laughs over a game of cricket, laughs at Phil Coopers crazy preaching analogies, laughs (and pride) at hearing about my sons break dancing attempts in worship!
Experiencing joy and peace like this is always a reminder to me of what it’s like in God’s kingdom and is my usual experience of times away with church family. I love it because when we are gathered together Christ is among us and His presence I value more highly than anything else.
So thanks for another outstanding weekend away Kingi Whanau.
Hats off to you all!
By Matt Parker