This weekend Westwood Baptist Church's youth group is joining us for a retreat at LivingStone Monastery in Newport News, VA. The unifying theme and jumping off point of the weekend is this idea of Jubilee from the Hebrew Bible, this sense of God seeking reconciliation amongst all people and creation through the dismissal of debt, the freeing of slaves, the release of the oppressed, rest for creation, and more. I had been dreaming of this retreat for a while in my head, and with the great help of Stephen Gray, we have settled in and created what I hope will be a great experience and opportunity for conversation, reflection, and prophetic insight for our students (and most likely ourselves as well).
We have asked Jon Middendorf to speak for our retreat, he is the Youth-Pastor-become-Senior-Pastor of Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene, and podcast host with one of my favorite bloggers over at Leadership Buzz. He is going to be taking a look at some gospel passages that reiterate and emphasize this imagination of Jubilee, and how we might let this concept inform our lives and impact our world today. Jon has been talking about this idea of Jubilee at his church for a while, and so when we started emailing about possibly working together (a long time ago now), and I asked him how he'd feel about talking about Jubilee, it was a great fit. I'm excited to have a chance to talk about theology, emerging stuff, the change from youth to senior pastor, and just life stuff with Jon. I'm hoping that this will be the start of a new friendship, and will be a wonderful experience for our students.
We will be hosting the the retreat at LivingStone Monastery, a Protestant monastery in Newport News, VA that should be a creative space for reflection, conversation, our worship gatherings, and change. For the record, if you are looking to host a small to medium size retreat, probably no more than 50 people, then this might be a great option for you. For $25/night, they provide lodging, 3 meals, and meeting space. You really can't beat that. They are wonderful to work with, timely in their responses, and helpful to accomplish your goals in setting up your retreat. You can do stuff with those living there, or you can do your own thing, they are flexible and help you think through details. I can't recommend them enough!
We will be having 3 worship gatherings, a chance to put Jubilee into practice through a service opportunity, a question & answer session with the community living at the monastery, and we will watch either 4 Little Girls or God Grew Tired of Us to further reflect on Jubilee on Saturday evening. Along with our speaker, we are bringing in some great friends of mine, Kent & Andrea Jaffrey and Tim Gardner to play music for the worship gatherings. They are fantastic musicians and Andrea while being a Ministries Assistant at our church, is also helping run the videos, and slides, etc. during the worship gatherings. The songs that they have chosen look awesome, the slides/videos are cohesive and powerful, and overall, it looks like the worship gatherings are going to be beautiful.
Sunday, we will head home, stopping for a little relaxation, food, and fun at Chuck E. Cheese after the main part of the retreat is over. I can't remember being this excited for a retreat in a long time. Summit Lake was awesome with Chris Folmsbee last year, but it is fun to craft a retreat with a friend in a smaller setting, and dream specifically for the students I am working with, and build it from scratch.
Here's to a good weekend, great conversation, God's Spirit moving and us being open to hear and see. This is the closing prayer for each worship gathering for this weekend, and sums up well our dreams for where our hearts will be moved towards:
A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make us intruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.