“And she treasured all these things in her heart…” Luke 2:51b
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I got in the car with a few people that I’d met but hadn’t gotten to know yet. We took off for a weekend where we were going to hear from God and get to know people, and it started with the four of us in the car. Three hours, a stop for gas, and dinner, and then we found ourselves on a mountain in West Virginia, driving through these really dark woods along this dirt and gravel road. Someone said something about pretensions of a retreat just to lure us all out in the woods, and then a sign: “KEEP GOING!” A little while more: “OH YOU OF LITTLE FAITH”. And then a corner, and these little houses in a valley.
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The next few days involved hearing from a guy named Scott Foley, who is a pastor at a church in Nashville and was apparently a mentor to the guy who leads my church here. We sang together, we heard together. He was a little hard to follow, since he didn’t do the “here are three points, here’s what they mean” thing. Which is fine. But it took some work. Which kind of makes sense, given the topic.
The prevailing metaphor for the weekend was the lyric, the music, and the dance of the gospel–the gospel has content, so that’s the lyrics, the prophetic word given to us, but there’s also the affections and emotions that give beauty and life to those words, the music of redemption. And the song leads us into the dance, the going out and moving towards the people around us who need justice and mercy and love. I am very good at the words, and maybe even the music, but the dance? I need to learn how to dance.
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Teaching, good. Singing, good. Worshiping together, good. Most of my weekend, though, was taken up with the business of community, the introducing myself and making small talk and getting to know names and faces and let them be fleshed out into whole people. Sitting around meals with people (the food was all really good, by the way). Standing around bonfires and alternately inhaling smoke or freezing with people. Playing Catch Phrase with people. Making scary Play-Doh animals with people. 😉 Much needed. We just were with one another, fully there. And it was lovely.
But I also had some good moments walking alone with God and getting to talk to Him. And I also took a really good nap. Rest. Weekend-long Sabbath.
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“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field…” Matthew 13:44
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We ended up singing this song on Sunday morning:
Keep us from just singing. We must go.
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Here’s what pretty much sums up the weekend for me: Sunday morning I sat next to my friend Rob, who is a cool guy, and we had a conversation before we all started singing. The thing is, for some reason I had my phone in my pocket, and somehow Voice Memos got turned on while I was walking into the meeting. So now I have an almost-40-minute-long recording of me walking and then sitting down and talking to Rob, and then all 250 of us in the room raising our voices to God. Am I keeping it? Yes, of course.
This weekend was a treasure, a jewel for me to keep around in my heart, and maybe it’ll grow into action and change. And God saw all the things that He gave me to love stored up in me, and loved it enough to stake everything He had in order to buy it. I can only keep it and hold on to it if He in turn keeps me. I’ll take that.