Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Devotionals from Family Life Retreat

First Devotional--Interactive, go at your own pace movement through 5 stations which included these meditations:

Knowing who you are:
The book of Ephesians, chapter 4 states that while we are all on the same path toward glorifying God, we also walk that path in various ways. Around the room you’ll find different aspects of a building that represent these four gifts to the church as a whole. Visit the different stations and consider if any describe you. In order for us to “build the church” we need to know what it is that we bring to the building project.

Bricks. (Hold a brick in your hand as you read the following)
Bricks are strong and sturdy. They are uniform and fit well with one another. Bricks don’t get to choose where they go on the building, they just go where they are placed. The word apostle means “sent.” Perhaps your heart tells you that you glorify God best by going where you are sent. You may feel God is sending you to another country to help people. You may feel God sending you to the hospital to visit the sick. You may feel God sending you to the finance committee to volunteer as the church treasurer.

The point is that Apostles are constantly open to where God is sending them. Sometimes the job God is calling us to do does not seem all that glorious. It may be raking the leaves of an elderly person in the church, or mowing the pastor’s yard, or showing a new person around at school. But an apostle understands that anything is glorious that we are called to by God.

Devotion for brick/apostle—Sing or simply read the lyrics of “Here I am Lord.” How does that song speak through your life?

Blueprint. (Add a room to the blueprint in progress on the table) –Compass, protractor, eraser, etc. also fills the table.
Every building needs a blueprint. A blueprint guides the progress of a building. We have a great blueprint for the church in the Bible—but God also uses creative minds to interpret our scriptures for our particular context. Prophets are people to whom God chooses to reveal the blueprint for the Kingdom of God. Sometimes this involves speaking truth to power or living a life that is counter to the culture we usually unquestionably accept. Prophets have an eye on the blueprint and an eye on the world as it is. If we have been building without the use of the blueprint, our structure may be lopsided or structurally unsound or even dangerous. A prophet sometimes has to show where we need to correct our faults.

Devotion for Blueprint reader/Prophet—Elijah was a prophet who knew how to listen to God. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah goes to a cave to seek God. After an earthquake, fire, and hail, Elijah keeps listening for the voice of God because he didn’t hear it in any of those things. Then he hears the sound of sheer silence, and a “still, small voice” comes to him. Use the meditation tools
to quiet your mind so that you may focus on the still small voice that carries the blueprint of God.

Door—this station is either at a door.

“Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” is the motto of our denomination. Doors are passageways for people to walk through. Doors might be opened to find someone we don’t really expect, or even someone who may be unwelcome, such as a salesman, a Jehovah’s Witness, or someone unpopular. Some of us have probably experienced having a door literally or figuratively “slammed in our face.”
Evangelism is about opening the door to the church. It is about sharing God’s grace with others who may not know it. It is about sharing your story with others so that others may find some connection with the truth and grace of God.

Devotional for Door/Evangelist—With someone else, take turns being on either side of a door. First, go to the outside of the door and stand with your face as close as possible to the door as it is closed in your face. What does that feel like? Then go to the other side and open the door and help your partner through. What is the difference? Talk with your partner about your story of coming to church and why you think faith is important. Whom have you shut the door on in your life?

Window—this station is at a window.
Windows are important because they let the light into a building. Some windows can also be opened to let in the fresh air. The art and gift of teaching is a gift to the church because it lets in the light and sometimes the fresh air. Without teachers, a church becomes ignorant because it is not educated about itself or the world. Without teachers, a church becomes stuffy because it doesn’t let in the fresh winds of change which sometimes challenge us. Teachers are willing to pull back the drapes and let the light in. They are willing to open the windows and let the Holy Spirit come blowing in.

Devotional for Window/Teacher
Stained glass windows were meant to educate a church that was mostly illiterate in the Middle Ages. The windows told stories about the Bible and about the doctrines of the Church. Take the wax paper and crayolas and write or draw a representation of something you have learned in the church, then tape it in the window to create a stained glass window with other people’s contributions.

Alternative Station—This table has nails, shingles, wood, stone, other building materials.
The gifts of prophets, apostles, teachers, and evangelists are four mentioned in Ephesians, but they are by no means the only “walks of life” along the path toward the Kingdom. Perhaps none of these struck a chord in you. Are there other building materials that represent a calling that you feel? God gives us individual talents and lives. What represents your gifts as a member of the Household of God?

Examples: nails hold things together, wood provides a frame (perhaps a person whose family has been foundational in a church), stone reminds us of a solid foundation, or as a strong exterior, saw or awl shapes wood, gives fine detail, etc. etc.

Our second session focused on collaboration. Assigned groups were given a box full of odds and ends and asked to create something that signified our church. The creations were inventive and indeed reflective of who we are as a body of faith.

Our third sesion gave us three questions to answer individually. How has Jesus changed my life? Where is Christ found in my church? and Why would someone want to come to my church? The questions were intended to help us practice evangelism. We need to be able to relate to another person, in 3 minutes or less, why Christ is important to us, how Christ is made known through our church, and why someone should come to our church!

The three sessions were intended to be "building blocks" of the church. First, we should identify our gifts and how we might share those gifts with our family of faith. Secondly, we should learn how to work with others so that our gifts can have harmony with other's gifts. Third, we should all find a way to share our story with others so that they may come to know Jesus and share their gifts as we walk the faith together.

We had a great time and 72 people were in attendance. Pictures are below!

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