A few posts ago I wrote about how you can’t go home anymore, but this weekend was about as close as I could possibly get to having to rethink that belief, because in a sense I did go home again. I had the privilege to spend a weekend with a group of old friends and new friends in worship, praise and friendship. The generosity and kindness of friends made it possible for Ruth and I to travel to Oshawa and be part of a fun filled weekend as well as a spiritual renewing.
First of all I have to say that after sixteen years I expected people to have changed physically. After all I look in the mirror and notice the sagging eye lids and that extra flesh around the neck that reminds me I’m not twenty any longer. But, I was pleasantly surprised how so many folk looked almost identical from when I knew them. The other thing that surprised me was that our conversations seemed to pick up where we left off. As we stood around talking, laughing and remembering, it honestly felt like we hadn’t been separated by all those years. And I guess in a way we probably hadn’t because friendships can stand the test of time and separation to a greater extent than we imagine. This came home to me after the Friday evening time of worship when I looked around and almost everyone was still in the chapel talking. For many of these people, they hadn’t seen or talked to each other in years and for others it was a time of making new friendships. Saturday afternoon was no different. We all just wanted to hang out and talk.
So what brought us all together? I believe it was a deep desire to renew and strengthen our commitment to Christ. Many of the people who gathered together have come through a great deal of life change in how they relate spiritually to the world around them. For some people these convictions on how the Holy Spirit leads led them to reconstruct their whole life approach to ministry and missions. For others the weekend was an opportunity to rethink and regroup thoughts, motives and reactions to circumstances that deeply impacted our lives over the years.
Here’s what I took away from the weekend. God is bigger than any of us or any plans that we map out for ourselves. I learned that people from all kinds of backgrounds and views regarding God can fellowship together when we have a common denominator, love for God. I also learned that many Christians, at least in our group, have been led by the Spirit to fulfill the great commission by ministering to their community. In the times we gathered for worship, meals and conversation I couldn’t get over how a small community of believers had broken free to think and live outside the box when it comes to thinking and ministering to the community. I learned that you don’t have to have big churches and large ministries to impact the people around you. One person being touched for Christ is all it takes to make the results of the ministry worthwhile.
I learned that there are a great deal of good people in the world who have a love for broken people because they themselves have been broken by the grace of God. I believe there was a great deal of healing this weekend as the Holy Spirit reached into our hearts to remind us who we are and what we have been called to be. The weekend didn’t bring new revelations or teach us anything we didn’t already know for the most part, but the time together did teach us that God loves us, guides us and heals us when we open our arms up and ask for His guidance. And by God’s grace someday all of us will be able to go home again and never be separated by miles and circumstances.
Next post we are back to the Beatitudes and after this weekend I think I understand them just a little better. God is good. Be courageous, be strong, no retreat, no regrets.