Easterfest – It’s not about the music…
Lot’s of people who haven’t been, are under the impression that Easterfest is all about the music. Certainly with a line up of International artists, it does showcase the best that the world has to offer in Christian Music. Every year I sing along with my favourite artists as well as discovering new bands that I’ve never heard of but who grab for themselves a permanent place in my listening repertoire.
Even so, Easterfest is definitely not about the music. I was asked on Radio this morning what the highlights of Easterfest have been for me. Being on the spot, I kind of blithered an answer, but now, with more time to consider, I would list the following aspects of Easterfest as being crucial to me and as being highlights of every year:
1. Networking. Every year, I meet kindred spirits who are vitally concerned with the same issues as me. Last year, I treasured my late night conversations with Brenton Killeen, currently the director at Youth Vision. We talked a lot about how to change culture and he gave me some great tips of people and authors that I should track down. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and talk to strategic people like Lyle Shelton from ACL; Sally Vincent from Family First Party; Jimmy Needham, the US recording star; Ian Shelton, the legendary pastor who has helped plant quite of number of powerful and unusual ministries; various announcers at the nation-wide radio broadcaster, Vision; Paul ORourke, the CEO of Emily’s Voice; Fiona Simpson, who at that time was the Speaker in Queensland Parliament; and so many others. I can’t help but wonder what divine appointment God will lead me into this year. Who knows who you might meet!
2. Family and relationships. I’ve heard stories of people meeting their husband or wife for the first time at Easterfest and I can easily imagine that. For me though, happily married for well over twenty years, Easterfest gives us an opportunity as a family for quality time away from our normal environment. There’s nothing quite like walking down the main strip in Queen’s Park holding your wife’s hand, no thoughts of work pressure or home stresses. The first time I took my children to Easterfest, my son was 12. This year, he’s bringing his wife.
3. Food: Phat burgers are really quite extraordinary and quickly became a favourite venue to us to eat and enjoy an intimate show with an Easterfest Artist. We’ve found a number of other places too. There’s something about sitting with some new friends, or some old friends, or with just your spouse, and discovering good food together. The culture of cafes is a wonderful part of Easterfest.
4. Culture. Easterfest is a great place to get yourself some culture. Another highlight for me was a couple of years ago attending a show put on by James Morrison in the Empire Theatre. Originally built in 1911 and rebuilt in 1933, the architecture of the Empire Theatre transports you to a different era. The grand proscenium arch, decorative sconces, original brick walls in the foyers and art-deco style lighting all build for an atmosphere of grandness. To then enjoy James Morrison, who entertains as much as he plays, in such a venue was an amazing experience.
Similarly to sit in St Stephens, built in the 1860’s, a few rows from the front as Jimmy Needham played an acoustic version of his Hymns album was an experience to remember forever. On the other end of cultural experiences of course, were opportunities like bush dancing with the Smashing Bumpkins. Easterfest, in so many ways, is about the experience.
5. Kingdom Culture. And here we have the crux of it. Tens of thousands of Christians acting like Christians, nobody knowing what denomination anybody else comes from, all in together with one heart and one mind, seeking to bless, to love, to celebrate… The good news of Easter is a central focus of the weekend with large numbers of people making decisions for Christ, many for the first time.
And that’s it – that’s what Easterfest is really about.
Ever changing; Thy Kingdom come
PS if you want to come to Easterfest this year, here is how.
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