Friday, May 24, 2013
Friday, February 11, 2011 Comments (0)
Retreat has come to take on a pejorative meaning today. When someone “pulls back,” the idea many have today is that such a person has given up. But you may have also heard the saying, “Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward.” I have found that saying to be so true because of two retreat experiences I’ve enjoyed in the past week.
The first experience was with our Deacons at Dowling Park. This year’s retreat focused on the theme, “A Healthy Church,” and our Deacons gave thoughtful reflections on both the many things our church does well and a few other areas where we could do even better. Look for some exciting new initiatives in the months to come, based on the suggestions of our Deacon leadership.
The second experience stemmed from a “preaching workshop” retreat I led for an ecumenical group of Central Alabama pastors who had received a grant from the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Samford. The retreat was held at St. Bernard’s Monastery in Cullman, Alabama. I was inspired by the preaching conversations I facilitated. I always enjoy engaging preachers about how they ply their trade, particularly non-Baptists. But even more uplifting was the Liturgy of the Hours I observed with the Benedictine monks each day, beginning at 6 AM. Granted, my biological clock was helped by being on Eastern time. Still, the chanting of the Psalms and the moments of silence offered a unique time of worship vastly different from what we do at either our traditional or contemporary services. I don’t plan to introduce any of these elements in our worship at First Baptist, though I was reminded at how important a new experience can be in encountering God, which is something I can bring back.
So, I will return to my pastoral duties better for my time away. Old and new friends both have helped me contemplate new ways of attending to the Spirit. I’m looking forward more than ever to our worship this Sunday, when we will be sharing together in the Lord’s Supper. It’s always good to get away, but there’s no place like home, though home is best described as the place you best meet God.
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