Classis Grand Rapids South is blessed by the teaching and leadership of truly outstanding pastors. These men and women continually and consistently give of themselves to provide spiritual nurture and encouragement for their congregations. The annual pastor/spouse retreat is an opportunity for the Classis to give back to them. At this 24-hour retreat, held at Camp Geneva, pastors and their spouses have an opportunity to reconnect, reflect, and be refreshed.
Sunday night is a time of pure relaxation and a chance to reconnect with colleagues. As we waited for everyone to arrive, we gathered around the fireplace, shared stories, laughed a lot, ate pizza, and relaxed. As I listened to the group enjoying each other, I thought about how pleased God must be to hear the laughter of His children enjoying life and each other.
One of the gifts the Classis wants to give our pastors and their spouses is space and time for spiritual rest and reflection. Jeff Sajdak, Dean of Students at Calvin Theological Seminary, did a masterful job leading three sessions, using questions Jesus asked. After considering each question, participants were given the opportunity to consider how we would answer those questions as they related to our lives. These times of quiet contemplation lead one into an intimate conversation with God, a sweet experience of His presence, and the freedom to rest in Him.
Gathering together as community for worship is another gift the Classis gives to our spiritual leaders. Matt Hochhalter, worship arts director at Calvary Church, began each of the three sessions by ushering us into God’s presence through music. I was especially struck this year by the feeling of unity. This was not a gathering of separate churches, but brothers and sisters joining in on one voice to give God what He deserves…our love, adoration, and worship. At the last session, we end our time together by coming together as the family of God to participate in the Lord’s supper. I find this to be a deeply spiritual time and a rich source of blessing.
After being fed by the word of God and the sacrament, experiencing the joy of quiet contemplation, spending time laughing and enjoying each other, and worshiping as one body, the pastors and their spouses can once again take up the call to, “feed my sheep” feeling refreshed and energized.