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Monday, January 24, 2011

Food, Fun and Fellowship

Saturday night we had a potluck/game night at Immanuel Church.  With over 50 different nations represented in our fellowship, this ain't no ordinary church basement hot dish potluck!  We're talking world cuisine, of restaurant quality...enough to delight your tastebuds for a long time!  Spicy reigns and I am still enjoying the bounty of our table that night!
After dinner, people were invited to partake in a variety of games...everything from Wii sports,         Wii Dance party, Sing Star, indoor floor hockey (innebandy),           round robin ping pong,                                          indoor tennis, a quiz show and other fun and games!  The saunas and pool (ICE COLD) were open and many children took advantage of an opportunity to swim!  What a joy it was to walk around church and see so many different groups of people gathered to enjoy one another's company, laugh a little, and get a little exercise in!
We have such a beautiful facility at Immanuel.  Two gyms, the saunas, the small pool, and great equipment like the Wii's to help people enjoy one another.  The winter season in Sweden is cold and dark and after Christmas it's very easy for the blues and the blahs to set in.  So we thought it would be a great idea to bring people together, enjoy a wonderful feast and then have some fun. 
We've been trying a new concept in leadership development.  Every other month we've been bringing together anyone who is involved in our ministry in any way...serving coffee, teaching Sunday School, working with youth, serving on boards and doing some teaching and worship and then breaking into work groups to do some planning.  It's gone well.  We decided to do this January event instead of a leadership day as a way of helping people see the importance of building strong relationships with one another as a cornerstone of our ministry.  Eating and playing together break down walls and help people to enter into a deeper relationship with one another.  A wonderful spirit permeated this event and it was a real delight to see people come together in this way.
We ended the evening by doing some singing, watching a slide show featuring some of the big events of 2010 and praying for 2011.  The spontaneous prayers from members of our congregation were truly a blessing.  One woman broke out into song, and soon we were all singing along about God's steadfast love.  We spoke of how we plan for the year ahead but don't really know what the year will bring.  We affirmed God's promises from Jeremiah 29:11 that God knows the plans he has for us, plans not to harm us but to give us a future that is filled with hope.  We make our plans but we must stay open to the ways in which God's plans will intersect and sometimes change our plans.
We set the tone for the year ahead by gathering together for an evening of rich fellowship, great food and an enormous amount of fun together!  This is Kingdom work and I love it.  (thanks to Ping Li and Yasin Farhat for the photographs.)