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Monday, June 1, 2009

Retreat





We are very lucky at Immanuel Church to own a beautiful conference facility on the edge of the Baltic sea in the midst of the Stockholm archipelago. It is called Stensnäs, meaning stone's nest and it is really a beautiful and wonderful place. We have an all-church overnight here twice a year. When I say all-church I mean that it is open to anyone who wants to join us. Only a small percentage of folks join us on the overnight but for those that do, it is hardly a bad way to spend a Friday night and Saturday. This time around the weather smiled upon us with bright sunshine and warm temperatures all night and day. Late May is the time of year when the evening light lingers and lingers and the colors of the sky dazzle the senses. The evening photographs are all taken between 10.00 and 11.00 p.m.
But beyond the beauty of the place, the time spent singing songs, being silly, sitting around a campfire and studying God's word with our church family is such a rich experience. It is on week-ends like these that we have a chance to sit and talk with people, play games with the kids, share more deeply with the good folks of our church. It is exciting to see people reach out to one another, cultivate new relationships, strengthen existing ones, deepen one's spiritual journey.

This time our theme was crossings...life crossings. We heard testimonies from people who had overcome some difficult obstacles in life yet learned to trust in God's providence and His guiding hand even in the midst of the pain. I believe it inspired rich discussion in the small group setting because often when we are in the midst of someone who is willing to be vulnerable with their journey, it inspires others to take the same risk. And it is here in the midst of the deep sharing and open honesty that community continues to form and forge deep grooves in our lives.
We are thankful for these overnight stays in a gorgeous place. We are thankful for the ways in which these overnight stays bring joy to our church community and strengthen who we are as the family of God.