You leave home at 6am, you drive over 200 miles, but you need some breakfast. When the only place you find open is McDonalds, but is also absolutely heaving, you know you're in Blackpool and yes, the BU Assembly. Two days over this weekend for me - I wanted to spend some time off with Maggie friday & monday; 'I'd have gone if it wasn't Blackpool again' and already getting the idea I struggle to separate content and context!
I enjoyed Andy Scarcliffe leading the worship (especially because Andy led a youth weekend I was on soon after I became a Christian). To be honest, I was in so few of the main events I dare not comment on my responses to the Assembly generally as I could easily be accused of not seeing, or hearing enough. I did enjoy Liverpool beating Newcastle 3-0 though!
Back at home, I'm still very conscious of the item in the national news around the 'riot' relating to the planned new Tesco's in Stoke's Croft. I've been struggling with myself - we came back from Barcelona (hotel courtesy of Tesco Clubcard deals) into the Stoke's Croft issue and that sums up the issue in many ways.
Everyone has condemned the protester's actions and appropriately so, but I'm not hearing much about the fact these people have expressed some anger most people turn a blind eye to - the huge power of large companies. Tesco's now have more outlets in Bristol than Baptist Churches, far more money on their altars and much larger congregations. Money talks and the evidence is fairly clear all around (our 'corner shop', just beyond our allotment is a Tesco's). In parallel I'm talking to people about how we can re-energise mission in the same area where the present issue has erupted, so this brings to light an issue we cannot ignore.
I've had some challenging conversations recently from the farming perspective on large supermarkets too, which also affects a large number of people in our region and need to re-examine my own practices. As Ben asked me recently, am I prepared to pay the personal cost for what might appear to be the only viable protest ordinary people can make? Is personal protest the only way forward, what are the ethical challenges we can make?
Bristol's other place in the national news went to Judd Trump - well done - a shame he didn't win. However, being a finalist at 21, we might have a new world champion sometime soon I hope.