Friday evening of August Bank Holiday weekend saw some twenty or so Shechem members gather at the House of the Open Door near Broadway, a Roman Catholic retreat house which had its origins in the renewal of the 1970s when a family opened their home in Slough and the life of the community began. There were many reminiscences of the beginning of Post Green. The community today owns a beautiful retreat house with buildings grouped around a lovely courtyard with a fishpond providing a great sense of tranquillity. Our gatherings were held in an old tithe barn which has been carefully restored.
The theme for the weekend came from a realisation that we are all busy and hectic and that we need to live at the pace which God intends for us according to our age, stage and calling. We planned the weekend to be a gentle and relaxing time with opportunity to listen to God and one another and to share wisdom and fun together.
Saturday morning saw more members joining us and we finally numbered around forty including six children who had a great time together. All our worship and the beginning of each session were enhanced by the musicians – Roger, Sally, James and Joe.
Ed and Emma were invited guests who shared with us God’s calling on their lives to nurture a small church which meets in Soho on Weds evenings. Their passion is for people ’on the edge’ and their Weds evenings provide a real refuge for some people who would otherwise feel very lost in London. There were interesting comparisons to be made between their church community and Shechem and we were all challenged afresh about the balance of our lives and the use of our time and energies.
Evening prayer each day was a reflective time based around the night office of Compline. On Sunday afternoon we thought about things which might help us to live at God’s pace –the recognition of who we are –a people loved, called and chosen by God; of the importance of sleep and rest and of times of quiet openness to God, breathing in the Spirit. We concluded the session with a time of ministry to one another.
True to Shechem traditions we enjoyed delicious food provided for us by the community and we had much fun together. Some people went to the local village fete on Saturday afternoon and we enjoyed a hilarious evening of games later that evening – very noisy! Sunday morning was a time of worship with the local church and it was good to hear that the community is being invited to make deeper and more effective links with churches nearby.
On Monday morning Mark led us in a rich interactive Bible Study which had us searching for God’s movement and ours as we looked at Bible passages reflecting the concepts of ’immediately, wait and rest’. We ended with a time of prayer and sending out in God’s name as we parted to pursue our lives, feeling encouraged, blessed and challenged.