And so it begins… or continues… with the first of a number of book launches, which took place at Vovo Telo restaurant in Steenberg.
One of the aspects of last night’s incredible book launch was setting up five different stations of ‘communion’ – one was the traditional grape juice and crackers and then we had a station with coffee and cake, cheese and wine, marshmallows and hot chocolate, and then marie biscuits and milk.
One of the biggest themes of the book is that church might be a lot bigger than we define. And so typically we see church as that thing that happens on that day [Sunday] at that place [which we call church] with those people [our specific local congregational family] and yet i believe that God sees it as so much more.
And so, within that framework, perhaps communion can look different as well – the idea of a bunch of youth kids walking up Lion’s Head and then breaking out the hot chocolate and marshmallows, but doing it in remembrance of Jesus, feels very much like the kind of communion i believe He would endorse. And so just a light visual challenge to people as they arrived and saw the setup to think outside of their boxes of what might and might not be of God.
WHAT’S UP WITH CAPE TOWN?
Then, in a miraculous, unprecedented moment of ‘What is going on here?’ people started arriving early. We gave a 6.30pm starting time and carefully did not say 6.30 for 7 [which is what we meant in our brains] so people wouldn’t think 7pm and arrive at quarter past… and yet at about ten past 6 the first couple arrived and then ten minutes later the room was suddenly half full as i was trying to go over my notes to be ready to mingle at half past. So definitely something in the air and an early sign that it wasn’t just going to be tbV, the MC, No_bob and me.
The MC for the first night was Theran Knighton-Fitt and he was incredible as we had known he would be, despite being a little sick [“this sweat is sickness people, not nerves.”] We chose each MC for the particular venue and Theran did not fail to disappoint with a blend of philosophical, reflective, deep and funny he hooked a full up venue and managed to hold their attention and somehow get me to speak shorter than my allotted time. [Magic, i say!]
The themes of his intro were people of faith who stick with it and an ongoing wrestling with your ideas about God and church and space and freedom to do so, and to disagree well with people and still be friends.
i then shared some stuff which i don’t want to go too much into because we still have some launches to go and i am way too lazy to plan a whole other different thing. We did some thankyous to key people like Kirsten who designed the book cover, my sister Sue from Texas [who was able to be there for the launch!] who jumped in last minute for some editing/proofreading vibes, Linda Martindale who got the ball rolling [and in absence her friend Heather in the UK] and got the book headed towards the printers and the Amazon and of course the beautiful Val for all the space she gave me to write plus the belief in the book and the ongoing wrestlings and conversations we have [and with special mention to her sister Bron as someone who helped make the venue and the setup look really stunning].Also big thanks to Alison and the staff of Vovo Telo for a scrumptious spread and the opportunity to launch there.
Theran lead a bit of a Q and A where he and some others asked some questions about the book writing process, the content of the book and how i saw the church in South Africa which was a really good time of just being able to share my heart on a number of things. “When is the next book starting?” was one question i actually didn’t get round to answering just because a more pertinent question might be, “Which of the four books currently doing laps around your brain should be allowed out next?”
My friend Nicole said a beautiful prayer and then we headed into the awkward part – the book sales and signing. Theran, who had published his own book a few years ago, bluntly told me during our prep session a week or so ago – “People are going to want you to sign the book, so just get over yourself and sign it.” And so i did, and it was great to be face to face with a lot of the people who had come through while trying to oversee the miracle of the ink-retaining pens and have enough catchup conversation and move-alongness to get through everyone who wanted an increasingly unrecognisable signature to happen [Just don’t compare any two of them, i cautioned].
And the feeling that maybe now, i actually am an author, of sorts. That feels pretty good. Although maybe i should wait for some feedback… once people have actually read the book…
GREAT EVENING, AMAZING PEOPLE
i really had an incredibly amazing time and can’t thank everyone enough – it was completely a celebration and also hopefully a prophetic look at the church, where it is and where it might go, if it just takes a moment to stop, look, reflect, listen and be what the church is meant to be.
An absolute highlight for me was the people – a lot of people in a room who i have a lot of love for [and who i suspect love me a lot] – did not get nearly enough time to catch up with people [some from as much as ten or fifteen years ago in my life] and just an opportunity to greet and hug and quick catchup and just watch hanging out with other people i love.
In a nutshell, church happened last night and it was great. God’s people doing God’s stuff in love. It was definitely that [although not everyone last night would necessarily identify themselves as God’s people, i know the majority would] and that is how i am defining church these days.
And even the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob [because he doesn’t!] got into the act…