God of all times and this time
May we meet you now
in the beating of our hearts and the stirring of our minds
God of all places and this place
May we meet you here
in the rhythm of our steps and the singing of our souls
God of all people and this people
May we meet you among us
in our gathering of prayers and passing of peace
God of all wisdom and Living Word
May we hear you address us
in your salvation story and our life stories
God of presence, peace and power
May we sense you within and among us
through bread and wine, in Spirit and in truth
we host an annual winter retreat here in adelaide. I'd been to a couple before and this is the second that I've helped to run. I know that Ann reads my blog from time to time and I'm happy here to acknowledge her wonderful work and graciousness and giftedness. Ann co-ordinates the Spirituality Centre for our synod Mission Resourcing Network, hosted at Adelaide West UC. Ann offers wise, creative and humble leadership in the area of spirituality and has done so for a good time!
this year's theme was "the way of the heart", focusing on spiritual journeys. it was a varied, multi-faceted retreat. on friday night, vicky balabanski and robin mann took us on a journey through mark's gospel, focusing on three texts, with a lot of great "jesus" and "journey" music intersperesd by robin, and sarah doing a spoken delivery of part of mark 10. we started with "woyaya" by the Star of the Sea choir (thanks again cheryl), and I used "walk among us jesus" from the fabulous "Seeing Christ in Others" by Geoffrey Duncan, one of three global anthologies that he has compiled (go the the United Church of Canada website). at the start, ann led a rich meditation about journeying, inviting us to take off our shoes and wiggle our toes (which was a mini-'a-ha' time for me.)
on the saturday morning i focused on Ed Ingebretsen's wonderful poem:
who can say no
to the river's going to the sea
asmuch, or more, go I to you, O God
confounder of all my dreams, save one
you love me
I adapted some roddy hamilton liturgy, and used a reflection from Margaret Silf (thanks Ann!), where we imagine our lives to be a river, and explore both the 'outer life' - the river bank - and the inner life - the flowing water, and the tributaries that feed this flowing river.
i used All India Radio's "Tijuana Dream" video clip from the bonus disk that came with their self-titled album.
even though I was leading, this was a powerful image for me, so different from seeing the spiritual journey as a monutain climb. to imagine being inevitably drawn toward God (the ocean) by gravity rather than effort, to be, in a sense, of one essence with this God, not polar opposites of some kind - very moving and challenging to my daily experience of faith.
after a break we gathered again for a 'desert' journey.
Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness
are a parallel to the Israelites
forty years of wandering in the desert
In the wilderness
the God of community
In the wilderness
the God of plenty
In the wilderness
the God of peace
Perhaps we too
need to be emptied at times
in order to be filled
we too, need to lose that which is precious
in order to find life in all its fullness
we who wish to serve Christ
must first be served by him
we who wish to follow Christ
must first be fed by him
So, if you hunger and thirst
for a deeper faith
for a better life
for a fairer world
take this journey
be served and serve
be fed and follow
(a couple of lines above from Iona)
i set up the exodus 16 stations again and let in with a similar liturgy to what I had used at chapel previously (follow the link and scroll down the page), but this time adding some thoughts expanded from Walter Brueggemann's "The Land".
“The sense of being lost, displaced, and homeless is pervasive in contemporary culture. The yearning to belong somewhere, to have a home, to be in a safe place, is a deep and moving pursuit… The Bible itself is primarily concerned with the issue of being displaced and yearning for a place. Indeed, the Bible promises precisely what the modern world denies.”
He goes on to say that
“Land is a central, if not the central theme of biblical faith… [a] sense of place is a human hunger which the urban promise has not met."
Brueggemann says that God, community and a sense of place go together, and that much of our journeying is all about where and how to find that congruence. He says that the coming together of these things provides orientation, assurance, and empowerment – or to say it another way – direction, security and strength.
He sees that the biblical journey is a movement that encompasses land, exile and kingdom. A home place, a leaving home, a place of abandonment, a homecoming, and yet a homecoming that is more that a particular home, a particular place, but about a bigger sense of home and place.
So, journeying is about many things – where we are, how we travel, our pace, our destination, our way-stations. It may seem to be about our going, our moving on, but it is very much about our being and our belonging, about our seeking but also about our finding....
we also had input from beatrice panne and the boyce's and friends, and a closing eucharist led by ann. it was a good time with very positive feedback. a lot of work but well worth it.