I thought it’d be good for me to share a little on why we’re bringing back the Encounter Weekend, and what I hope we can get out of this little retreat together.
This year’s theme is Love the Lord Your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. And love your neighbour as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31). I’m feeling more and more, that perhaps this is less of just a “theme” for 2009, but rather a calling for our English congregation. This is what we are called to do, and how we are shaped to live. In a sense, this makes up one of our core visions and values of the church.
And that’s one of the reason’s why we’re making the Encounter Weekend an essential part of what our church does.
I’ve come to realise that one of the biggest thing that prevents us from Loving God is the fact that very many of us don’t know how to love. The kind of love that we’ve grown up comes from television, or movies, or broken families. We quickly associate physical contact with love, or infatuation with love. In the west we use love liberally – i can love pizza, love cats, love U2, and love my parents all in the same breath. And so when we come to loving God, we’re not entirely sure what that means, or how to do it. Cause we don’t see God the same way we see cats, we don’t taste God the same way we taste pizza, we don’t hear God the same way we hear U2, and we don’t interact with God the same as we would with our parents.
But God’s love for us transcends all others – and has the ability to touch us and interact with us on a deeper level, in a way that is intimate, personal – but the best way i could describe it – pure. And so, how do we respond?
How do we, a broken people, carrying years of emotional baggage, bitterness and unforgiveness, a convoluted spiritual history, and wounded hearts – how do we love God?
The encounter weekend is about that. It’s about helping us understand a little bit of what holds us back from Him. And the other part is learning more about how much He loves us. It’s his grace mixed with our honesty, to discover His love, our redemption, and in turn, our adoration in response.
For me, it was the beginning of understanding what it means to love God with all my heart.
Hopefully, i’ll get a chance to write a Book Review on these books later (or perhaps someone else can submit one to me.) These are a couple pretty seminal books in understanding some of the spiritual dimension of what’s involved in an Encounter Weekend, as well as knowing some of the framework behind opening ourselves up to God’s love.
Neil T. Anderson, Victory Over the Darkness, ISBN: 1854245724
Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, ISBN: 1854245740