In the 5am fog of a Saturday morning 11 intrepid but bleary-eyed young people set off with courage and excitement, unsure of what lay ahead. We were off to Flame 2017 with the theme “Ten Thousand Reasons”. Ahead of us were 10,000 reasons to be hopeful.
Ten thousand young people, filling Wembley arena to capacity, who had journeyed from across the country, equally as weary as us and full of noise and laughter, celebrating the joy and exuberance of catholic fellowship; the excitement was tangible.
We heard Matt Redman sing, saw Rise act, giggled as Bishop Mark tried to join in a rap, watched dancers on what Cardinal Vincent Nichols called God’s dance floor and listened much to the plight of refugees. How could we respond?
Cardinal Bo of Myanmar spoke with us of the value of a tennis racket in his hand compared to a tennis racket in the hands of Andy Murray; worth little in his own, but priceless in Andy’s. He spoke of violins and paint brushes and footballs in a similar vein. He reminded us of Who’s hands our own lives are in. In God’s hands we are priceless and can achieve so much. We can respond.
We returned late on the Saturday night having made friends fit for a lifetime, not just those in our own little gang but friends from across the diocese. We sensed our belonging a little more deeply, both to one another and to our Church – and with that comes another reason to hope. Ten thousand… and one more!