This half-term our family did something we’d thought we’d never do – we went to Disneyland!
We weren’t sure what to expect, but within five minutes, of being there, as well as having the pleasure of meeting some of our great friends in Main Street, an announcement had come over the tannoy, the Frozen music was belting out and hundreds of people stopped what they were doing and lined the streets to watch two well-groomed ponies pull Anna and Elsa’s white-jewelled carriage past them.
It felt a little bit insane, but nonetheless we were pulled into a different world – a magical, fantasy world where frankly all the serious stuff we’d been thinking about a few hours ago simply didn’t matter any more. The following five days were filled with exclamations: “isn’t it amazing that they’ve taken the time to put horseshoe impressions in the floor?”, “have you noticed how Aladdin’s area is narrow and forces people together so it feels like a crowded market?”, and yes, I must admit: “ooh look, even the patterns on the bins are different in each different land!”.
On Monday night we and a multitude of others were crowding in front of the castle, watching an amazing light and fireworks show, with the atmospheric bulbs and nostalgic music of Main Street behind us. It was another pinch yourself moment, and it made me think about how one day we’ll be surrounded by a great multitude of people all focused on a great light and a throne. Then we won’t need to remind ourselves that it’s a fantasy world not reality, because it will be the most real experience ever. The day when the heavens and earth we know now will have passed away and we get to see our glorious king Jesus. Now that’s really exciting!
Our beloved horseshoe impressions in Disneyland’s floor, the beautifully crafted building facades and magical castle landmark are simply that: impressions and facades, and ultimately false. They were a great holiday from a full-on life, but our reality there was our God, who we were trusting each day for the safety of our kids, thanking for the great experience of Disneyland and asking for health when one of us came down with a fever.
It’s so easy for our family to get caught up in our east Kent lifestyle equivalent of gilded turrets and the twinklingly inviting boutiques of Main Street. But all these can offer us are false hopes, non-lasting joys and distraction from the important things. When we find our true hope and joy in Jesus, we learn his promises never fade.
So our prayer for Hope Community Church this week is that his beauty and authenticity will be what we’re passionate about as a church, and what every person who encounters us will experience.
If you’d like to join us – or simply visit us one Sunday to encourage us – we’d love to hear from you!