Monday, March 28, 2011

Sabbath Retreat

This past weekend our church plant, In Process, escaped to a cabin for the weekend to enjoy a mountain retreat in Big Bear. The owner of the cabin has been generous to many other pastors and families over the years to use their cabin as a place to rest. One of the best comments I heard this weekend was how restful the retreat was.

We had plenty of plans for the weekend including a time of sharing, especially since we cancelled our regular Sunday service. We were hoping that we would continue our time through the scriptures in preparation (Lent) for Easter. The theme for this Sunday, Week 3 of Lent, is Thirst and one of the passages of scriptures we were going to share was Isaiah 55:1-9.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As I read these words I feel as a group we were spiritually fed this past weekend. Even though none of us cracked open the Bible nor did we share our thoughts on Lent or this passage. We were there in the mountains as a community. And for a true community to thrive and survive requires sharing. We shared meals together. We shared laughter. We shared chores. We shared play time in the snow. We shared encouragements, and as many communities do, we shared a good ribbing with one another.

I do not understand how this act of sharing helps us spiritually, but I will tell you that we grew closer. We grew closer to one another, and we grew closer to God. We ate well, but the food we ate wasn’t what sustained us. It was the community.

There are times when I am frustrated about the politics of starting a church. And there are times when I am floored by the ways that God is working in the group. Most importantly though I am floored by the ways that the group is responding to God. I always think that if the church plant succeeds or not (don’t know how you measure that type of success), I have been fed by the living God as I continue to do the work He has called me to do.

Maybe that is real success: being fed by God.

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