Mens Retreat.. – Reflections

A month or so ago 25 of us travelled across to Ilam hall for our first mens weekend. Though that’s a bit of a misnomer it was basically an overnighter. I don’t think that any of us new how it would go, and we approached it with varying degrees of enthusiasm and trepidation. As the convener I was aware of different expectations among those coming away. For some of us, this was a chance to get away from the stresses of work, the busyness of family life and enjoy some unhurried time in the countryside in the company of friends from church. For others it was a chance to do serious business with God. To take the time to think and pray through some major life choices.

For me?  Well I hoped it would ‘go well’. I hoped that we would all gell together, and I hoped that we’d get the balance right – friendship and camaraderie, iron sharpening iron, prayer and discussion, food for the mind, body and spirit.

As it happened my expectations were succeeded. Richard our guest speaker was fantastic in leading us through the theme of the Kingdom of God in Jesus teaching. For those who want to know what he had to say his Powerpoint presentations can be downloaded from here. One thing that will stay with all of was the refrain which ran though all his talks:

‘The main thing, is to keep the main thing the main thing’

How we do that is the challenge for each of us, and a challenge for St Giles corporately. A start will be to explore what exactly the main thing is / was in Jesus’ teaching and what that looks like in West Bridgford today.

A second reflection? It is good to get together and talk about God in an unhurried setting. Why don’t we do that more in our churches?

As a vicar I have an almost continual sense that we are falling short in our life of faith together – sorry if that sounds neurotic I am really quite well balanced. We talk about so much in brief snatches together – buildings, services, family life, events, publications – all grabbed in a few minutes over coffee, or in a quick phone call. Yet the One Who Really Matters scarcely gets a look in except for those times when we meet specially to talk about him – services and homegroups – and then the conversation often feels rushed. There have been a few times when it has been different. Times of retreat like the weekend at Ilam Hall, and times of communal study and discussion when training for the ministry at theological college. How do we create the space needed for those conversations in our busy church life? That’s the key challenge the retreat left me pondering.


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