In the past I have led lots of weekends away for young people. They were always memorable times of building faith and encouraging friendships, as well as being loads of fun!
I have just come back from a rather different weekend away with a great bunch of folk who are part of several groups of people with whom my wife and I connect, the main group being Sunday@thepub.
It feels like we have been building up to this weekend for a while now and it just felt that now was the right time. I have been wanting to explore a deeper sense of community than we can find when we meet on a Sunday night in the local pubs that have become our ‘church buildings’. These are great spaces to create community, but we have limited time to develop them.
Because of the diversity of the group and the fact that not everyone comes on a Sunday night it was important to allow people the chance to feel part of the group but to keep some of the elements of what we are about on a Sunday night and to explore some elements of corporate worship and discussion.
There were many highlights about the weekend, opportunities to share in small groups, to walk together, to have space to be alone and relax together. We allowed space for worship encounters through liturgy from various sources, as well as through creating stations for people to wander around, a community space for discussion and dialogue about ‘rules of life’ and the things that we do that we consider to be ritualistic.
The main highlights for me were eating together around a huge table… it brought to mind the last supper as we sat around the table, eating, drinking, laughing, sharing conversation. There was something Holy about those moments. As I have thought about it I have imagined Jesus doing the same kind of thing with his friends, I have imagined him eating and drinking with all kinds of people some of which were the wrong people in the eyes of the religious leaders.
New Testament scholar Robert Karris says this ‘In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal’. I love this idea, meals are about welcome, they speak of friendship, generosity, and dependance on others who have prepared the food and they embody God’s grace and enact mission by their very nature.
Another highlight was our walks, we would stop and pause along the way at various times for a reflection, we would choose to sometimes walk with others and sometimes to walk alone, we had the opportunity to play on the beach and to drink in the surroundings. All of these experiences are about connection, connection with others, with ourselves, with nature and of course with God. There is also a rhythm to walking which can help in understanding these connections in a deeper way, each step an opportunity, a reminder of the simple things that God can so often speak into.
This was our first weekend away, but I doubt it will be our last!
I came across this great audio from Nev Wilshire the guy from the Call Centre programs, i heard him do a little bit of it on the Chris Evans show, and then a mate passed me the full essay and the conversation on the Jeremy Vine show on ‘What makes us human’ … check it out here
Hope you enjoy it!