I have a couple of minutes before I go to church to pray to consider a very full weekend.
My Advent Retreat was this weekend and it was wonderful, satisfying and very tiring for me. We have a "slumber party" on Friday night and 7 women joined me at the lodge to just sit around the fire and talk. No agenda, no program, just conversation. It is a good beginning to the retreat except that i often have trouble sleeping at the lodge.
I got to really catch up with some women from my old church in Bowling Green and that is always a blessing.
The retreat itself was called "Hope for the Holy Days" and 21 women attended for the day. As I pondered the whole idea of hope and some scriptures from Isaiah that gave hope, I also understood that we needed to recognize the areas that needed hope. And the human condition of feeling alienated, dead, alone, and empty. There are three important parts to the retreats that I do - the first part is allowing people to just be in silence and reflection. They have the gift of scripture and Camp itself as they can walk and pray. The second part is allowing us to get together in small groups and be able to pray for each other. Over the years I keep hearing how important that has been to women. And finally in the afternoon we do some sort of craft that helps us to visit and express our feelings in a tangible way. This year the craft was a snow flake ornament and everyone had the freedom to do whatever they wanted with it and the creativity was awesome.
The last few weeks in the church has been a time of grief for many people and as I looked out over the group of women I knew that just getting away for a day with others who valued the spiritual life was a gift. So, when it was all said and done, we really did find hope in our being together. It was a HOly Day.
And then yesterday morning we had worship and somehow I pulled together a sermon. But Sunday morning I was extremely tired. And wondered how to get through the day.
Sunday night we had a program that was called "Acts of Faith present The Meaning of Christmas." Acts of Faith is a signing choir that is based at our church and every year they put together a program. This one was outstanding and featured other signing choirs and choirs. In addition, Carol, our music director sang a solo of O Holy Night. The church was packed and it was very diverse - actually more black than white. And it was full of spirit. There was a miming group from a Baptist Church that was just wonderful. By the end of the evening my spirits were revived and my tiredness gone! It was really a testament to the power of the holy spirit.
So, as usual, I say - God is good, all the time.
I am grateful to be in this life where I have access to very different expressions of faith - from silent meditation, to formal worship, to a spirit filled evening like last night. It all gives me life.