celebration reflections on god bless yorkshire

We’re still feeling in the celebration mood following a fantastic day of giving thanks for God’s own county for Yorkshire Day on Saturday.

GBY celebration reflections whole window and balloons low res

The window is full of colourful thanksgiving for specific treasures that people living in – or visiting – Ilkley wrote on it… and that thousands more are reading as they walk and drive by.

We have no gift bags of postcards and badges left Рall 250 were  received with happy smiles, laughter and gratitude.

And social media was full of positive conversations about the God Bless Yorkshire initiative all weekend.

Such a natural and joyful way to help people give thanks and to point to the one behind all that beauty.

Job well done fantastic team of volunteers!

Here are some more pics to celebrate the day:

GBY celebration reflections close up - low res

kingfishers on river close up

dry stone walls close up

GBY gift bag image

GBY basket close up

This event is the latest expression of an area of work that seems to be organically and abundantly flowing out of the Sanctuary. As we seek to pray and share God’s heart for each one in seven billion and then to create resources to help the wider church do the same, we are also are finding our watching and creating is spilling out through the window and onto the streets around us in accidental evangelism.

God Bless Yorkshire! is the first initiative we’ve done for Yorkshire Day though. And the idea to do something for it generally – as well as the specifics of what we actually did – all came about because of a combination of Valentine’s Day and listening prayer!

On 14 February 2014, the Sanctuary created it’s first ever window art and involved a team of volunteers in making, collating and giving out its first ever creative give-away. (Both were in response to what we felt God was saying in listening prayer.)

The reactions were amazing – on a day that everyone is wondering whether – or how well – they are loved, it was powerful and fitting to share a perfect and constant love that is for everyone.

And last July, when the whole of Yorkshire went mad for Le Tour! we produced and gave away hundreds of God bless Le Tour badges – and people LOVED them! It tied in so naturally with the celebration already taking place and it was brilliant.

Throughout 2014 and this year, we have been growing our creative arts window ministry with beautiful results. And on Valentine’s Day this year we stepped up the give-away and were again amazed at the warmth and depth of people’s responses.

We prayed about when else we could do give-aways that would bless people in this superbly natural way and really felt led to Yorkshire Day…

And then in morning worship a few weeks ago we prayed about how specifically to bless people on 1 August, and really felt led to share the mural as the basis for our celebrations.

The mural’s artist, Alison Hodson – who had so generously created it as a gift for the Sanctuary three years ago – generously again said yes to all our plans.

And from badges, postcards and tags – all held together with the white rose – through to it being in the window and all kinds of thanksgiving being written over the mural on the glass – our shop front has become a riot of celebratory colour with the mural at its heart.

That same vibrant joy was what we saw beaming back at us from scores of faces among the 250 people who received a gift and/or wrote on our window. We all love where we live and it was a privilege to lead people in giving thanks and receiving beauty that pointed to its source this Yorskhire Day!

The next window will be about rest and there’s a beautiful back-log of ideas planned to follow it – again all birthed out of listening prayer and the generosity of our creatives – and we’re already praying about the next time we can bless people with a give-away.

It is such a privilege – and so much fun! – to freely give as we have freely received.

And that’s how it’s all possible…

Individuals who have received God’s love wanting to share it with others volunteer their listening prayer, their obedience, their time, their art, their creative writing, their formatting, their home-grown flowers, their funds, their smiles and so much more.

So to the team of 15 people from 4 local churches – and all the pray-ers and donors behind them – who helped in one or more of these ways. Thank you! Because of you, we were able to share God’s blessing with Yorkshire. Because you freely gave, many others are freely receiving.

And to the One who keeps on giving. Thank you! How is it possible that even as we give, we receive so much more from you? This morning we feel so rich – in encouragement, in stories, in answered prayer, in expectancy for what you will do next. Thank you for blessing us through all this too!

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