Todd Agnew sings a song called "Grace like Rain". The verses are the words to Amazing Grace and then the chorus says, "Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me. Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away." I tell you this as a preface to writing about last weekend. My church, Oasis Madrid, had an Easter retreat at a camp, Aguas Vivas (which means Living Water), about an hour north of Madrid. It was incredible!!! As I have been thinking back on it this week, the song, "Grace like Rain" has been popping into my head. "Why?" you ask. Well let me tell you.
First of all, when I think about my church and the community that it is, I think about grace. This weekend was evidence that I am a part of a community of grace. We had the best retreat ever!!! During the weekend we had a Maunday Thursday service, a Messianic Seder, someone went through the Rite of Conversion, someone got baptised, and we had worship services each morning. Spiritually it was so refreshing. I also danced during four of the different services.
The Maunday Thursday service was very solemn and reflective. There was a time of silent confession, hand washing, partaking in the Lord's supper, and I danced to the hymn, O Sacred Head now Wounded. When the service was over, all the lights were turned out and we left in silence and darkness. It was very meaningfull.
On Friday we had a worship service in the morning with singing, Godly Play (a way of telling the story of the Bible that is interesting for kids and adults), Rosy professed her faith in Jesus publically, and I danced to a song called "Jesus Hail the Lamb." Some of us did some hiking and then in the afternoon we participated in a Messianic Jewish Passover Seder. It was so interesting. There were readings that we did and different food that was eaten that signified different things having to do with Christ's death and resurection. It was so cool. After the Seder, I spent some time in the prayer room. We had a room set up with various things to help us connect with God. The walls were completely covered with paper so we could write or draw, there were communion elements, candles, stones to write our burdens on and a cross to set them at the foot of, nails, thorns, and chains, to remind us of Christ's suffering, and much more. It was such a significant time for me with my father, creator, and savior. In the evening, there was time to either watch "The Passion of the Christ" or just hang out with people.
Saturday we started with a worship service again and I danced/did American Sign Language to the song, "Lord Have Mercy." I also taught a dance to 9 other people today that we performed on Sunday. (More about that later.) This was a glorious day as this was our only planned activity. In the afternoon 7 of us decided to climb to the top of the mountain. It was difficult, but so worth it. I love to hike, but I am kind of a wuss sometimes. I had grace extended to me on various occasions when the hike got hard, or the jump from one rock to another was a bit scary. God is so good in providing people who care about you for who you are and not for what you can do! Anyway, the view from the top was amazing. The only problem was that it started to rain while we were at the top. It didn't just rain either, it hailed. Needless to say, we were soaked. The rain was so refressing. It was another reminder on this significant weekend that His love and grace has been poured down on us like rain. Christ's death is the ultimate example of this. What greater example of love and grace could we ask for. Thank you Lord for tangible reminders through something as simple as rain. After the rain let up some, we made it back down to the bottom safely. It was quite the adventure. God then proceeded to seal His promise to us once again through one of the clearest rainbows I have ever seen. I just can't help but smile and praise Him again right now! Yeah God!!! After dinner we celebrated Phil's birthday and just had a great day.
Sunday - HE IS RISEN!!! On Sunday morning we had a service and Troy baptised Monaca. Troy spoke, which was awesome and I highly recommend that everyone read what he had to say by clicking here. The dance I taught on Saturday was performed during the service too. We danced to a song called "Today" by the group Iona. It was so cool to have 9 other people woshiping with me in this way. This is a dream come true. I think that dance is an incredibly effective way of worshiping and connecting with God with our whole selves. After the service the kids had a candy/Easter egg hunt. They were pretty funny to watch. We also took some pictures of my team and also with my roommates. They turned out pretty good. I don't know if it is surprising or not, but I think we got more silly pictures than normal ones. Maybe that says something about all of us?! By the way, if you want to see all of my pictures from the weekend just click on my pictures on the side. There are also some pictures from my trip to Segovia.
Well, that in a nutshell was my Easter Weekend. It was so wonderful. I think I've said that a few times now, but I guess you get the point. More to come later but until then, remember, HE IS RISEN and "grace like rain falls down on me and all my stains have been washed away!"