Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Great Banquet
I had an incredible weekend. I was sequestered with 60 other women for 80 hours in Decatur, IL. We had voluntarily entered the doors of a church to attend the Great Banquet. This is a spiritual "retreat" weekend modeled after Cursillo Walks. Dave had met the pastor leading the Great Banquet at presbytery several months back and was encouraged to get our church involved in the Banquets for spiritual renewal. He and four other men attended the banquet in October. Last weekend was the ladies' turn.
I had participated in several women's retreats in my day. I had some expectations and some hesitancies. I've roomed with others, knew how to work around a three-sink washroom with 30 females, slept through snoring, sat through grieving and rejoicing with strangers. I was a veteran. But this weekend was more that a "mountain-top" women's retreat.
The teaching is fairly basic Christianity 101. The presenters, however, are anything but basic. It isn't slick and polished. It's raw and real. Each speaker had a story which opened up my understanding of grace and the choices we have before us: to either lean on the Father's everlasting arms, or become bitter and angry. These women were beautiful examples of the former. One of the teaching axioms of the Great Banquet is there is more going on than meets the eye.
Upon meeting these women one could have the impression that they're either polished and put-together, or needy and hardened. Sometimes it's just too easy to try to read the book by it's cover. But when time is sacrificed, attention is paid, one learns of pasts that have left scars and wounds that a child or young woman should never have to face. This world can be an ugly place. The choice before us is do we let the sins of this world weigh us down, control us, and bind us or do we lay all these experiences down at the foot of the cross and wear the Holy Spirit - becoming new creatures filled with grace and forgiveness. I saw much grace and forgiveness this weekend and I experienced the laying down of my own wounds and asked my Father to transform my bondage into freedom.
I danced this weekend - in front of 60 other women (well, along with about 10 others). I also rapped. I was uncomfortable. Terribly uncomfortable. Screaming-inside uncomfortable. But it was all good. It led me to a place I needed to go. It led me to that place where I was naked, raw, open and honest with my God. Where I was bound up with fears I am now released and free to be the worshipper I so desired to be (but feared what others might think). Saturday night I was screaming on the inside, sobbing on the outside. Sunday I was rejoicing on the inside and out. It was a good weekend.