Last Saturday was the Alpha Scotland Vision Day 2011 in Edinburgh. With the increased journey time since our move to Ayr we decided to make a weekend of it and went through on the Friday night and enjoyed a lovely evening watching England win and catching up with friends from our old house group.
The vision day was held in the General Assembly hall of the Church of Scotland and I would be very surprised if that room (which not only hosts the General Assembly but also hosted the Scottish Parliament for a time) has ever seen, or more accurately heard, anything quite like it: apart from the night before when 800 teenagers packed in for a night of worship and teaching - in fact we were reliably informed that the volume was down several notches from the night before, and it was loud!
The day was absolutely brilliant: great worship was followed by inspiring testimony of some of the ways in which God has been using Alpha in various places around Scotland in the last year. This was then followed by an excellent key note talk by Nicky Gumbel entitled Jesus Manifesto: how is a nation transformed? It was the first time I had heard Nicky speak live and he was brilliant: biblical, engaging, appropriately funny and good stories (and then later in the day we heard that he was preaching a further 8 times the next day at his own church, HTB!). In the afternoon we went to a seminar on Transforming Leadership, with the main speaker being a baptist leader but a panel for questions made up of 2 baptists, 1 presbyterian and all of that facilitated by an episcopalian! On an episcopal note, we sat with a good friend of mine from my TISEC days, but unknown to all of us on the other side was a fellow 'piskie' who Karen and I had a great chat with later in the day.
The day closed with more worship and a very good talk by Karl Martin in which he exhorted us to "get out more!" and reminded and encouraged us that we were there for and because of "A viral epidemic of the love of the Father, mediated through the body of the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit". This, and only this, is what can change Scotland - anywhere, in fact.
All in all, we enjoyed inspiring worship, heard great stuff and made some really good connections. The question, as always following a day like this, is "What's next?" For a whole host of reasons that question is one that I really don't know the answer to at the moment: but that in itself, whilst difficult and painful, may actually be somewhat exciting (depending on my mood!). What's for sure is that we're encouraged and challenged - and all need to seek God more and more for the role He would have us play in that viral epidemic of His love. Bring it on!