Diary of a silent retreat 4

Thursday, 18th November:

squirrel just a stone's throw away

Squirrels- bushy tailed ones. There seemed to be several families, including little tots, sliding, waltzing and jetting rapidly without brakes nor care from branch to branch and tree to tree. They were amazing to watch. I found it so relaxing to just sit at the balcony and be entertained by their delightful dances in the trees.
 

Today I looked through the whole gospel of Luke and picked up the emotions of Jesus. His frustration, anger, sadness, tears, sorrow, rejoicing, happiness, rebuke, and distress. I thought David told me to relax but he directed me to do something that required a few hours scan through the gospel.

Obedience yielded treasures,  I found out.

Friday, 19th November:

birthday energizersMy birthday. Fifty five, and since 5 is the number of grace, I am expecting grace upon grace this year. The church members quietly wished me well. There were eight from WRPF including Simon and Rinda.The Shins and the Chongs gave me some energizing stuff to make this day celebrated away from home a comfort and a wee special. Others, who found out later gave me some well wishes on notes and candy.

Entered into the gospel story of the man with the withered hand healed by Jesus in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus was very angry. Englightening time.

sharper than a two edged sword- his word

As I celebrated the final communion, I enjoyed feeding on Christ – His body and blood. What a beautiful mystery – this fellowship meal with the Triune God.  Hidden nutrition.

Saturday, 20th November:

early morning meditation before silence is broken

a return to reckless childlike abandon and joybefore silence is broken

Six days of complete silence ceased at breakfast. I’ve been hearing mini-explosions from firecrackers fired two nights before a festival called Loi Krathrong. At breakfast, there were explosions of joy, and laughter and conversations. The retreat concluded with sessions where they summarized and shared and each one were prayed for in the afternoon.

After saying thanks and goodbye to David, my morning was spent going deeper into the story and exploring further what insights the Lord had for me from the story. By afternoon, I was done and concluded my retreat by myself in praise and song.

the men garlanded with the "fragrance of Christ" at bft

Jenny n Irene

retreat celebration at Tsunami

The evening was a celebration at Tsunami. The pastors were all honoured and well cared for with a Japanese meal. As we headed to the Night Bazaar, we found ourselves caught in this jam along the river.

sunny and annie

hot air lanterns launched

As it turned out, the local folks were celebrating Loi Krathrong, a festival where they released decorated boats or 4 feet tall lanterns with light into the river or sky, to symbolize the release of bad luck, sin, sorrow or wishes, prayers and dreams. Firecrackers exploded and the night sky occasionally lighted up with fireworks. Hundreds of lighted lanterns slowly and silently rising up, drifting with the winds and the lights disappearing from sight made the night festive and nostalgic.

I felt like a newly serviced car, a computer that just went through a lengthy de-fragmentation process. A lantern just lighted up. A heart of flesh. Freshened. Enlightened. Encouraged.

the retreatants and sds

(Standing: Francis, Lee Hong, Siew Gin, Kenny, Theresa, Lisa, Irene, Deena, Ethel, Simon. Stooping: Sunny, John, Lye, Bernie, Jenny, Annie, Wendy, Rinda.)

Further information about retreats of different kinds conducted by Simon and Rinda Tan are available through their ministry Listening Inn.

Diary of a silent retreat 3

Monday, 15th November:

relax

It was the third day of the retreat. Enter the story, my director tells me. Experience the moment, the whole scene.

The passage he gave me was the wedding at Cana.

Tell Jesus how you are feeling and what you need and listen as he speaks in your imagination.

This Ignatian way of meditation took time. But it was worth it for the Spirit was free to inspire my often unused right-brain to yield insights and applications otherwise missed by normal left-brained, logical, rational interpretation.

Relax, he reminded me.

getting food at dining area

free seating, eat as much as you want

The silence at mealtimes seemed odd but I got used to it. We avoided eye contact. Eyes can talk too, as lovers and children know. We ate in silence, even if those who sat opposite or beside were friends.
Annie and Deena- gd friends, side by side

Never liked food for the masses. Especially hotel food in church camps. The Thai food here was mostly rice, vegetables with slivers of pork or chicken, and gourd (and good) soup, and the occasional spicy dish(we had chicken curry once). But no complaints from anyone, which was unusual for Singaporeans, even Christians. Maybe the enforced silence.. haha. For me, I was happy with the food. Slowed down, with no distracting talk, my senses, including taste, became sensitive.

Tuesday, 16th November:

chapel 2

Be gentle with yourself, was his mantra to me. Was I so harsh with myself, or was he just warning me in advance, knowing my tendencies to condemn or judge myself? Be gentle, he kept saying.

You are suffering from burn-out, he said.

This was after having heard me for a few days. He had thus joined a chorus of pastor friends who had sung the same song. Well, that was why I was there.

Do not make any major decisions until after you have taken your sabbatical. Certainly, don’t make any major decisions here.

Was that a relief for me to hear? Not really, I did not enter into retreat with any intention of praying about making any major decisions.

Just enjoy Me, the Lord had said to me the morning before I left, and I have stayed with that word, since day one of the retreat.

Wednesday, 17th November:

communion every evening

Holy Communion every night. Eucharist sounded better. It means “thanksgiving”. Our reasonable response to his gifts as a coupleof blood and body is, Thank you Lord.Yes Lord!

Tonight was special. The Lord whispered, Everything I have is yours. My faith was stirred and joy bubbled up in song within.

Learned to doodle (see right) with my Samsung Jet Dynamic Canvas, some sketch software in my mobile. Yep, I guess I just had to touch something electronic. No laptop, no TV, no newspaper, no radio here in the desert.

Twitter communion

Eating meals in front of the computer screen is not uncommon. What do you think of having holy communion in front of the monitor with prayers received via Twitter and registering your Amen on your keyboard?   This was reported in the Daily Telegraph on 24th July 10.  Why worry about URA guidelines on religious use of commercial space. There’s unlimited virtual space on the internet. Is this a good idea or what? Personally, I don’t like the idea of taking communion alone in front of a computer monitor. The use of technology for the kingdom is great but where’s the communion with brothers and sisters in Christ in this sacrament. God himself is triune; by nature he is communal and made us “in-his-image” humans the same way. This should be experienced in holy communion, He in us, us in the Triune,  in communion via a shared meal, not twitter.

“Believers are invited to partake of Communion in front of their computers while following the service via Twitter, the brain-child of U.K. Methodist minister Tim Ross. Rev. Ross will send out a prayer in a series of tweets and ask participants to “read each tweet out loud before typing ‘Amen’” in response. Hundreds of people have registered for the service, and Rev. Ross hopes thousands will join them by the time the service takes place next month. “The perception of church is often that it is rusting away in antiquated buildings and not in touch with the world around us,” says Ross, “but this is a statement that we’re prepared to embrace the technological revolution.”

Holy Communion: body and blood of Christ

( In 14th September 2007, I posted this piece in the old blogpastor, which I have now revised and re-published.)

Holy communionDon’t miss this excellent post of the different views of holy communion by Alex Tang of Random Musings. It includes the view of Joseph Prince of New Creation Church.

John Piper’s view is the best fit and description of wrpf’s belief and practice regarding holy communion. John Piper writes:

“Let me read the key sentence from the Elder Affirmation of Faith once more and then show you in the Bible where it comes from. “Those who eat and drink in a worthy manner partake of Christ’s body and blood, not physically, but spiritually, in that, by faith, they are nourished with the benefits He obtained through His death, and thus grow in grace.”

Where does this idea of “partaking of Christ’s body and blood . . . spiritually . . . by faith” come from? The closest text to support this is in the previous chapter: 1 Corinthians 10:16-18. As I read it, ask, “What does ‘participation’ mean?”

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ (koinōnia estin tou haimatos tou Christou)? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ (ouchi koinōnia tou sōmatos tou Christou estin)? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar (koinōnia tou thusiastēriou)?

Here is something much deeper than remembering. Here are believers—those who trust and treasure Jesus Christ—and Paul says that they are participating in the body and blood of Christ. Literally, they are experiencing a sharing (koinōnia) in his body and blood. They are experiencing a partnership in his death.

Partaking of Christ’s Body and Blood, Spiritually, By Faith

And what does this participation/sharing/partnership mean? I think verse 18 gives us the clue because it uses a similar word, but compares it to what happens in the Jewish sacrifices: “Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants [a form of the same word] in the altar?” What does sharer/participant/partner in the altar mean? It means that they are sharing in or benefiting from what happened on the altar. They are enjoying, for example, forgiveness and restored fellowship with God.

So I take verse 16 and 17 to mean that when believers eat the bread and drink the cup physically we do another kind of eating and drinking spiritually. We eat and drink—that is, we take into our lives—what happened on the cross. By faith—by trusting in all that God is for us in Jesus—we nourish ourselves with the benefits that Jesus obtained for us when he bled and died on the cross.

This is why we lead you in various focuses at the Lord’s table from month to month (peace with God, joy in Christ, hope for the future, freedom from fear, security in adversity, guidance in perplexity, healing from sickness, victory in temptation, etc.). Because when Jesus died, his shed blood and broken body, offered up in his death on our behalf, purchased all the promises of God. Paul says, “All the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Every gift of God, and all our joyful fellowship with God, was obtained by the blood of Jesus. When Paul says, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” he means: Do we not at the Lord’s table feast spiritually by faith on every spiritual blessing bought by the body and blood of Christ? No unbeliever can do that. The devil can’t do it. It is a gift for the family. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we feast spiritually by faith on all the promises of God bought by the blood of Jesus.”

John Piper’s full article is titled, “Why and how we celebrate the Lord’s Supper”.