Praise God, for he is always faithful! Throughout the past three years I have seen God’s faithfulness first hand, both in my life and in the extended ministry of the Friends Church to Friends University students. I believe that through these most recent years we have grown both individually as a church and as a university, but we have grown together as well.
The Friends Friends Friends (or FFF) retreat is a great example of this growth together. If this is your first time to read about our annual retreat, take a look at the last year’s blog post. In each of the past three years our retreat has grown in attendees; this year we had 25! The topic of discussion was Self-Care as Soul-Care, which included subjects like sleep, exercise, Sabbath, and food. We learned that these subjects are made for us and not us for them. They are not a new type of legalism, but rather means of grace, helpful tools that God has given us in our chase of Christlikeness. I think I can safely speak for everyone when I say that we were challenged in new ways, as we don’t typically talk about those things in church or class!
In addition to these topics, we were given time for silence, solitude, and rest. The first couple of weeks of school are certainly some of the craziest of the semester, as all of our schedules are in flux and we figure out the new unique pace of life. The FFF retreat was a great remedy for our frenzied lives, and a great reminder that God’s rhythm of life, as modeled by Christ, is much more life-giving and sustainable than any rhythm we can come up with. Time and space for rest and communion with God were absolutely appreciated by all.
Another way that we experienced self-care as soul-care was through playing together! Two of the things we do best on the FFF retreat are play hard and laugh hard. Whether it was volleyball, extreme duck-duck-goose, “over the hill”, the name game or playfully imitating one another, there was hardly a moment where I didn’t have a smile on my face. We really do have a blast on this retreat!
All in all, the third annual FFF retreat was an incredibly rich time for us. We learned more about God, about ourselves, and about how we can follow Christ more intimately, for the ultimate intention of working alongside God in his mission in the world. We continued our growth together as Friends Church attendees, Friends University scholars, and as friends (in the customary, relational sense of the word). All of these uses of “Friends” can become quite confusing!. God is always faithful, he always provides, and it is usually far and above what we could ever expect. The third annual Friends Friends Friends retreat was no exception.
We are so very grateful to Pastor Manny Garcia and General Superintendent David Williams who offered their wisdom to us about exercise and Sabbath. We are particularly grateful to Associate Superintendent Adam Monaghan for his faithfulness and love for us as college students, and for all of the work he put into the making this wonderful weekend retreat happen. Thank you, Adam!
I think it is fitting that I attach the “Prayer to Welcome the Sabbath” by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro in their awesome book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. We used this beautiful prayer at the beginning of our retreat, and we hope that it blesses you as it did us.
– Josiah Brown
A Prayer to Welcome the Sabbath
Lord of Creation,
create in us a new rhythm of life
composed of hours that sustain rather than stress,
of days that deliver rather than destroy,
of time that tickles rather than tackles.
Lord of Liberation
By the rhythm of your truth, set us free
from the bondage and baggage that break us,
from the Pharaohs and fellows who fail us,
from the plans and pursuits that prey upon us.
Lord of Resurrection,
May we be raised into the rhythm of your new life,
dead to deceitful calendars,
dead to fleeting friend requests,
dead to the empty peace of our accomplishments.
To our packed-full planners, we bid, “Peace!”
To our over-caffeinated consciences, we say, “Cease!”
To our suffocating selves, Lord grant release.
Drowning in a sea of deadlines and death chimes,
we rest in you, our lifeline.
By your ever-restful grace,
allow us to enter your Sabbath rest
as your Sabbath rest enters into us.
In the name of our Creator,
our Resurrection and Life,