Last Friday, the whole Desch family climbed into our Honda Odyssey- affectionately called "Blue Dog" (don't ask)-and drove to Camp of the Woods in New York State for the all-church retreat. Pastor David Kim, from Redeemer's Center for Faith and Work, spoke on the very important and relevant topic of work. I would encourage everyone who did not attend, and those who did, to engage others in your church family on this subject. For the purpose of this Pastor's Desk, I would like to focus on the area of community, and how I think the church retreat helps enrich relationships. (Click here to listen to sermons from Saturday night & Sunday morning.)
In the book of Acts, we get a glimpse into the community life of the early church in Jerusalem. We are told in Acts 2:44 that "all who believed were together and had all things in common." This verse has been abused many times. For example, some have argued from it that the Bible teaches communism. What is abundantly clear from Acts chapters 2-4, however, is that the early church enjoyed a rich community life. Needless to say, this is the biblical ideal for the church. Just as Jesus intimately knew his disciples, so the body of Christ is to be united as a community of believers. Easy, right?
We all know that there are various barriers to rich community life today, many of which were unknown to the early church. Simply because of economic and technological realities, people in the first century were far less mobile than we are today. Of course, we could list plenty of other challenges to community life. However we must ask ourselves, "Am I using these realities as an excuse to avoid the rich community that God desires for me in the body of Christ?" By way of encouragement to you to pursue community here at GRC, I would like to give you-David Letterman style-10 things I learned from the All-Church Retreat. I apologize in advance that this is a male dominated, sports dominated list of observations!
1. God has blessed our church with lots of great musicians and singers. The worship times were rich and God glorifying.
2. There are a number of new faces at GRC who came on the retreat. God is at work expanding our numbers. Get to know these folks!
3. Bad weather is not a beach deterrent for the kids of GRC. There were some rockin' sand castles being built in the rain.
4. I'm not sure if the Boy or Girl Scouts of America would have given us a merit badge for our campfires on Saturday night. More importantly, however, I saw lots of folks enjoying great conversation late into the evening.
5. Soo-Jin Lee is really, really funny. I think I already knew that; now I do for sure.
6. Alex Tretner has to be doubled teamed in the post on the basketball court, or he is going to score every time.
7. I don't think Brandon and Jason Kwan ever get tired. I watched them run around a basketball court for about two straight hours. Ed and Susan, please tell me what you feed those boys.
8. Paul Kang is not afraid to lay out, full body, to catch a football while knee deep in the water. Very entertaining.
9. Han Oh is excellent at capturing on film people being thrown into the air while tubing (go check out the Facebook pics).
10. People at GRC are really thinking hard about how their work relates to their Christian life. I had a number of good conversations, with Mo Hanna and others, about the retreat topic. Perhaps this subject would be a good one to take up in your small groups for further discussion.
You might all be temped to think that all of these little anecdotes are trivial, and that what we really want is deep relationships. Agreed. But often the little tidbits of connection that we make with other people form the first step in what will one day become a deeper relationship. So let me encourage us all to pursue one another in relationships. Have people over for dinner. Grab a cup of coffee with someone that you "kind of" know. Learn someone's story. And then, Lord willing, like iron sharpening iron, relationships will begin to deepen and we will be spurred on toward greater holiness. Forging relationships isn't always easy, but we need to start somewhere. May God help us toward that end.