Sunday 11th June started when the set-up team arrived at Ashington Community Centre at about 8am. We got the keys, were shown the ropes and plugged in the projector. As more people arrived tables and chairs were set out, the band warmed up, the welcome table was set up, the kitchen sprang into life and the centre was soon filled with the sweet smell of coffee and warm croissants.
Then came the really important task of the day, we prayed. For 15 minutes everything stopped – there were still things to prepare – we just had something more important to do, to pray. People prayed for God’s presence in the centre for the day, safe travel for the church family and especially for Jesus to speak to every one, because we were here to listen.
The Away Day was all about sitting at Jesus’ feet and letting Him teach us. Starting from our 2017 verse, “The disciples came to Jesus, and He began to teach them” (Matt 5:1-2), we explored how we might hear what Jesus is saying to us. There were some really useful examples of past experience shared in the room, how Jesus had spoken to others. We also thought about what we could change in our lives to make more space to deliberately listen to Jesus. And a rather personal reflection followed of what would my life look like if I spent more time with Jesus?
After a huge bring and share lunch, which was up to the usual St Matthew’s standard, we put what we had learned into practice. There was a 30min slot where people were encouraged to find a quiet spot and listen.
We ended the day with a narrated service of Communion, looking afresh at when in this very familiar service we might hear from Jesus. The children had spent some of their day in their own group tackling the same theme as, Stop, Listen & Respond, and they responded beautifully – with service – bringing communion bread & wine to the tables. They had been live-wires all day, with their heads in Bibles and writing psalms. Thanks to Clive for inspiring our young people.
Did I miss anything? Ah yes, the Table v Table games and challenges. Six packets of Haribo and one Cadbury fun pack later, all scores were settled. Nothing like a little healthy competition!
Please do keep making space for Jesus to speak to you, and keep on listening for His teaching. You may be the one to bring an important word of encouragement to St Matthew’s in this difficult time of interregnum. See me if you want to pass something on.