When I was 15 I jumped the fence at Knebworth to see the ‘last’ Led Zeppelin concert, and since then have loved the experience of open-air music. In London, the festival line-up announcements have overtaken the dawn chorus as the heralds of spring and summer. As a church we look forward to going to the Greenbelt festival over the August Bank Holiday.

Festivals have long been associated with protest and alternative life choices, and although the improved loos are welcome, the gentle gentrification and rise in cost has meant that in some instances their offer of something alternative has diminished. This year’s festivals have challenged this and have recaptured some of the origins of the festival movement.

Glastonbury was full of the unexpected; David Attenborough who is in his 90s, was the surprise guest, and the stats say that there was a significant reduction in the need for police interventions. The campaign to reduce single use plastic was successful and was visible on stage as well as among the campers. The sense of working for a common good was palpable.

One of the most provocative and challenging performances was given by Stormzy. He is a young, black, grime artist, by no means easy listening! In his set, he combined raw protest with a yearning and belief in God’s mercy and goodness. This heady combination led to a moment when he invited the audience ‘to church’ as he performed ‘blinded by your grace’, have a look on Youtube.

Stormzy is teaching us something important about God being among us. In life we long for moments of transcendence, and Glastonbury showed us that we can encounter God when we least expect to. I hope you find your moment of transcendence this summer, and that the fence isn’t too high for me to jump at Greenbelt!

Caroline Halmshaw