A Taste of Heaven Together On Holiday
A happy holy holiday with 640 men, women, and children from Christian communities in Europe and Lebanon
by Tadhg Lynch
Seven days – seven nights – on holiday with 640 people – men, women, children of all ages – singles, celibates, married couples and families – who journeyed hundreds of miles by boat, plane, train, bus, car, and motor bike – from Lebanon, Ireland, Poland, Spain, and Russia – just to name a few of the places from which members of more than a 17 Christian communities of the Sword of the Spirit gathered together in De Vossemeren, Belgium, during the week of August 3 – 10, 2007.
Young and old alike enjoyed rich times of entertainment, fellowship, praise, and singing
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1).
Some things are not simply hard to describe or explain in words, they altogether elude our human senses and our normal perception of reality. Who can describe the invisible world of angels and demons, God’s glory and his kingdom, the resurrection and the afterlife in paradise?
Joining some 640 other Christians for a week of prayer, fellowship, and holiday together in the lovely forests and lakes surrounding De Vossemeren, Belgium, I experienced God doing something quite extraordinary. The word I wanted to use to describe it was "intangible" and yet I felt that that didn't quite fit.
Well, the English dictionary gave me some idea of what this elusive word means, such as:
1. Incapable of being perceived by the sensesI didn’t feel as though any of these really expressed what I had felt over the week or what the Lord had been about.
To describe On Holiday as “incapable of being perceived by the senses” wouldn’t really make sense. There was something uniquely sensuous about On Holiday – you couldn’t miss it. Families inviting each other to share wonderful meals tickled our palettes. Foamy, frothy Belgian beer, sharp, rich coffee and dark chocolate were excellent accompaniments to serious chats and informal gatherings alike. The dulcid tones of the On Holiday choir delighted us in the evenings. Sculptures, paintings and photographs drew the eye as we walked in and out of our conference center while times of vibrant worship lifted out hearts and our hands. As if to remind us that we had yet to reach heaven, a generous portion of rain landed upon De Vossemeren in the final two days and assailed virtually every sense but couldn’t dampen the spirit. In fact, my senses were in need of a good break as we returned home.
Was On Holiday “incapable of being realized or defined”? In a way what was amazing about On Holiday was that it was realized at all. The amount of work involved in transporting and catering for over 600 brothers and sisters of many languages and cultures was immense and yet was coolly realized and managed by an efficient and unhurried group of volunteers. A motto of one of our Sword of the Spirit communities in Europe is “service equals growth”. The Lord blessed our brothers and sisters in their service and allowed their efforts to grow the very project itself, until the amazing number of 640 people from 17 communities (from Europe, Lebanon, and some other continents as well) came to celebrate with each other.
Our focus at On Holiday was to “experience a taste of heaven together” and yet the Lord called us to continue stepping out in faith here on Earth during this special time. John Keating, an international leader in the Sword of the Spirit, exhorted us to train our spirits to hope in God and to believe in the promises the Lord had for us, as Abraham believed in God’s promise for his people, though he would only see the seed. Bruce Yocum, one of the founders of the Community of Communities movement, encouraged the body to “get back in the boat” and cast out our nets afresh for a new catch. Young people from across the region exhorted, encouraged and insulted their ancestors in community as they spoke of the need for a fresh fire and zeal to proclaim the gospel amongst us. Not only was the spirit of On Holiday capable of being defined – it was being realized in our midst that week.
To describe something as “incorporeal” is to suggest that it has no body, no physical existence in the material world. This, one could be temped to suggest, is true of community. Have you ever tried to explain to another person what it is that you do on a Sunday after church? Or on a Tuesday night with your small group? Or have you ever told them how you do that thing with 600 other people on holiday? In a way, community is incorporeal – it has no body, it is difficult to grasp, to touch, to take hold of. Yet this is only so because we ourselves are the body that make up community, we ourselves make it corporeal, we ourselves – talking, sharing, praying, living together on holiday made up On Holiday in a way that could be seen, experienced, realized and yet not fully grasped.
Abraham, we are told, “looked forward
to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews
11:10). In De Vossemeren, Belgium, we were given a chance to see what those
foundations may look like and hear the Lord’s call to dig them together.
Intangible is nothing…
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