On the weekend of the 6th-8th January 2023, more than 100 excited Globe-attendees descended upon a hotel in Surrey for The Globe Church’s first weekend away!
As cars and coach-loads arrived, those of us (myself included!) with recent memories of student weekends away were in disbelief at the prospect of having an en-suite room all to ourselves! Things got even better when we arrived in the restaurant for dinner, to get our first taste of the amazing food that would sustain us over the next few days.
Of course, the weekend wasn’t just marked by great accommodation and good food. One of the real benefits of being away was the extended time we had to spend together. We could deepen existing relationships and to meet new people within our church family, something that can be difficult to do after church on Sundays. Meal-times, breaks between sessions, games, crafts and the (very damp) walk all gave opportunities for chatting and fun.
As someone who’s only been at Globe for a few months, I came away from the weekend full of joy and gratitude at having spent time with those who have become family to me.
Central to our time together was the teaching on Esther led by Tom Heasman, pastor at Widcombe Baptist Church, who took us through the whole book in just two days! It’s hard to condense here all that we learned, but here are some of the key takeaways.
God’s Mysterious Providence: Esther Chapters 1 and 2 (and indeed the whole book), highlight God’s providence to us. In the messiness, evil and injustice we see in the world and in our own lives, we can rest in the truth that, even when it seems God is absent, He is always at work, protecting His children and working things together for their good and His Glory (Romans 8:28). The tyranny of King Xerxes in these initial chapters leads us to rejoice in the reign of our King Jesus, overflowing with humility, gentleness and compassion and to whom no earthly power compares.
God’s Great Reversal: Chapters 3-8 of Esther comprise a tale of twists and turns, where God’s providence is continuously displayed, particularly in the miraculous reversal of the fate of the Jews from imminent destruction to salvation, celebration and rejoicing. As Tom highlighted for us, this is a shadow of God’s great reversal, the Cross. When it seemed as though Jesus was defeated, the tables were turned on the enemy, and the Cross became the site of sin and Satan’s eternal crushing. Jesus’ death and resurrection bring life not death, honour not shame and peace not war, for those who trust in Him. In Tom’s words, the new life we have in Jesus ‘is set in divine decree’: we are saved and adopted as God’s children for eternity. This cannot be reversed.
God’s People Remember: Esther’s final chapters illustrate the beginnings of the Jewish festival of Purim, where God’s people are reminded that their destiny is determined by God’s good purposes, not by chance, and celebrate His deliverance. As Christians today, we have an even greater reason to rejoice! We can look to the Cross, remembering how Jesus died in our place. We are reminded that He is now enthroned as King, His reign is eternally perfect, and we can live with hope as we anticipate His return and our eternal feasting together with Him.
Apart from the main sessions, there were wonderful seminars looking at Biblical Meditation and how the church engages with disability. The latter was really helpful in leading each of us to challenge our assumption in church that everyone is like us and encouraging us to view those with a disability the way God does, as indispensable parts of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:22), whose presence and inclusion makes the church more complete!
The weekend ended in saying a sad farewell to Trev and Val Archer, reflecting on the ways God has worked through their incredible service to Globe since its beginning.
All in all, despite the rain, The Globe Church’s first weekend away was one filled with immense fun and its legacy is one of deepened relationships in our church family. So – when is the next one?