Like most other things in 2020, the Shechem weekend had to be an online virtual event as we could not meet together. However, this did not stop an intrepid band of Shechemites from conquering the technology to come together from all corners of the country for much appreciated fellowship, fun, worship and learning. We are all grateful for the technology that enabled us to do so, to Sonia who was unanimously crowned Queen of Zoom for masterminding it, and to Roger for all his hard work bringing the weekend together.
The programme consisted of gatherings on Thursday evening, Friday afternoon and evening, and through the day on Saturday. The sessions were a mixture of informal fellowship and more formal worship and teaching. It was great to see each other and catch up on news, including how everyone had coped with the difficult previous few months. Even though we were not physically together, the opportunity to have such contact was tremendously appreciated.
Equally tremendously appreciated were the more formal times of worship and teaching. Not all were formal though as James and Jen led a time of worship for all ages that gave us all a good workout as well as being much fun. Our
teaching for the weekend was brought to us by Dave Hopwood, a writer and speaker and who had previously worked at Lee Abbey. Dave spoke to us about bruised reeds, bad knees, a quiet man and being chosen and cherished.
Jesus lived in a time of bruised reeds as the people suffered under Roman oppression. They lived with fear and corporate grieving and Jesus would have understood covid. Jesus did not come to smash the oppression, he was a
different type of saviour, a suffering servant. Dave challenged us to ask: who is this Jesus that we follow? Faith is a constant discovery of a different sort of radical saviour.
Jesus always focused on the person in front of him, whoever they were. He accepted everyone, whatever their background. We all have “bad knees” or perceived weaknesses which hold us back or make us think we should hold back. However, God can often use these “bad knees” for his work and glory. He can use vulnerability and weakness as a bridge to others. Dave challenged us to offer our “bad knees” to God: we might be surprised with what he does with them.
Jesus was the surprising quiet man. He was gentle and did not shout or raise his voice. Powerless women and children were drawn to Jesus as they felt he was on their side. Particularly, he engaged the Samaritan woman at the well, crossing lots of boundaries in doing so and deliberately making himself vulnerable. He often broke out of the boxes people tried to put him in. Similarly, God speaks quietly yet individually and directly to people today. He still doesn’t fit boxes and is leading us to new things and new ways.
In talking about being chosen and cherished, Dave used the illustration of a jigsaw, and the frustration if one piece was missing. Jesus was secure in himself and that reflected his attitudes and behaviour. He showed it when he washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus always welcomed people and cherished them. Dave acknowledged how hard it is to accept grace but being sure of God’s grace to us gives us security and affects our attitudes and behaviour.
At the end, rather than returning home, everyone remained at home but still expressed their thanks for the time together and for all that Dave had shared with us.
Graham and Kathie