For the last 18 months Beyond has
been focussing on a programme of guest speakers on the first Sunday
of each month which has been a fantastically rewarding experience.
We've heard from Nadia Bolz-Weber, Ian Adams, Stuart Townend
& Iain Archer, Sally Hitchhiker, Richard Beck, Cole Moreton and
Kester Brewin. We've also had the Nine Beats crew come into
town with an amazing gig by Revd. Vince Anderson and an evening of
spoken word and music from Mark Scandrette and Heatherlynn. Now we are returning to our core
programme which is artistic events that aim to inspire, provoke,
stimulate and give space for reflection and meditation. The
first of these was The Light Service on Sunday 4th February. We've created light events in the
past and this evening was a chance to put together some of the
things that we've learned from these to create a 'service' that
asks what it means to say that 'God is light and in Him is no
darkness at all'.
We began by spending some time
thinking about the nature of light and how fundamental that is to
our existence. This then moved into a time of considering
darkness, both in our lives and literally as the lights in the
space were all turned off.
After a period of confession and
reflection we were exposed to different light experiences,
beginning with a video of a light installation by Chris Levine
Then everyone was invited to move
around the space and simply experience the wonder of light through
various installations that had been started up. These ranged
from disco glitter balls to a whole room full of Green laser
light, fibreoptic lamps and a cluster of laserpods. After 15 minutes of exploration of
the wonder of light, we all came together to share the peace
followed by a final reflection and the breaking of light (in the
form of glowsticks) as a commitment to be those who bring
light to others.
Our hope is that people left
enlightened, illuminated and with a renewed commitment to
being bringers of light to those around us. We will now begin a series of
Sunday evenings during Lent when we will be looking at different
artistic interpretations of the Stations of the Cross. 7.30pm
starting Sunday 18th February until Sunday 25th March.
We were in the dark before,
but now God has given us light.
We will live like people who have the light.
People who have the light do what is good and right and
true. For if we walk in
the light, as he is in the light, we have
fellowship with one another, and the blood of
Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Christmas Eve is here along with
our biggest crowd and a special piece of art in hut 395.
The Beyond team always keep
Christmas Eve for ourselves as we like to create some art as part
of an evening schedule that includes carol singing, a reading and
some prayers that all follows a similar theme.
The theme tonight was birth and new
life as we are on the eve of Jesus' birthday. The hut
contained a large projection of an image of the expectant Mary
beautifully rendered in a modern icon style.
Through the wonders of modern
technology we were able to see into her womb and watch an
ultrasound of her baby as he wriggled and moved
This image was surrounded with
garlands of flowers and at the foot of the hut were hundreds of
daffodil buds. These were there to remind us of new life and
everyone was encouraged to take a flower with them and put it in
water as it will then burst into life tomorrow.
The whole thing
was accompanied by a heartbeat soundtrack when we weren't
singing carols. All the carols we sang focussed on Jesus'
birth and we read the account of his birth in the second chapter of
the gospel of Luke.
This felt like a fitting climax to
our tenth Beach Hut Advent Calendar as we look forward to the birth
of Jesus tomorrow. We wish you all a blessed Christmas and
pray that you will experience the new life that comes from knowing
The art installation in Hut 367 had
been given a title by artist Louise Mabbs - No Cradle, No Cross -
highlighting the fact that if Jesus had not been born then there
wouldn't have been a crucifixion and salvation for the
The centre piece of the
installation was a large cross which filled the back wall of the
hut and which was made from old foil mince pie containers.
Throughout the month we have been collecting these as people
have discarded them after eating the free mince pies we give out
every night. So in a way everyone has contributed to making
this artwork. In front of the 'mince pie cross' a
wire bowl was hung and a torch shone on it in such a way that the
shadow of the intricate design of the bowl was projected onto the
back wall. Then we could see that this contained the word
'peace' many times, woven into the wire that made up the
This recognised that fact that at
Jesus' birth the angels sang "peace on earth, goodwill to all" and
that one of the names given to him in the Bible was Prince of
Peace. Either side of the hut, hung on the
doors, was a set of gossamer pockets containing a series of
interesting and unusual Christmas cards. Many of these also bore a message
of peace to the world. Our final hut tomorrow has become a
bit of a tradition and is number 395, as it has been for most of
the preceding years.
There is benefit to simplicity and
hut 296 showed us that tonight. This Aspect of the Nativity
was just the basic essentials of that scene - a baby wrapped in
cloth and lying on a bale of straw. The baby was lit by a little
spotlight and in the photographs of the hut the place where the
baby lie was a pool of light with no baby in sight.
Perhaps this is appropriate because
of course Jesus isn't born until Christmas Day (although he has
been present in other huts during the Beach Hut Advent
Something that the people of two
thousand years ago wouldn't have been able to understand was the
wonder of electric candles which could be placed amongst the straw
of the hut without setting everything on fire!
A simple star hung above everything
highlighting the merest hint of a heavenly host of angels through a
series of tiny angel wings suspended in space.
It was very calm and pretty warm on
the seafront tonight given the time of year. There was an air
of peace and calm as it was a very low tide so the waves were quite
quiet and there wasn't very much traffic noise from the
Hut 341 exuded that same sense of
peace and calm as it was dressed all in blue providing a simple
backdrop to a large star of wonder. The star was made from
hundreds of torn up pieces of coloured tissue paper, pasted to make
a thin multi-coloured film.
The star was then lit from behind
so that the colours shone out into the darkness. The overall
effect was like an abstract stained glass shape that hovered in
mid-hut. The hut was framed with garlands of
ivy and other evergreen leaves which were intertwined with some
Somehow, even though we were
outside, the evening felt cosy and this was helped by a fire
pit and the chance to sit close to the flickering flames if you did
feel cold at all. This also connected us with another
event in Brighton tonight - The Burning of the Clocks. This
involves a procession of homemade lanterns which are taken to the
beach and thrown onto a bonfire. This happens today as this
is the winter solstice and the moment in the calendar when the
days start getting longer again.