What I Learned At IF:Gathering and You Can Learn In April

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We’re getting ready to start a new women’s Bible study at SMC and you’re invited – encouraged – strongly urged to come!  I attended a women’s event this past February called IF:Gathering and I want to share what I learned and experienced at it.

IF: Gathering was a mix of women, young 20-somethings facing women of a “certain age” across tables.  Moms weary from kids multi-scheduling and care sat beside career women managing a different kind of schedule.  Knee boots in skinny jeans were meeting sensible sneakers in color-coordinated sweat suits.  Gray haired heads bent in prayer beside hair of multiple hues.  The Doxology was sung with reverence along with This is Amazing Grace sung with all voices lifted together in one accord.

IF: Gathering was a coming together of faiths, beliefs, questions, denominations, seeking, and just flat out “I don’t really know if I believe any of this”.  There were the main line denominations meeting the evangelicals meeting the Pentecostals meeting the doubting seekers.

IF: Gathering brought together women who worshiped individually, corporately, or just stood silently for they had never been involved in such an experience.  There was worship with hands lifted and worship with heads bowed.  Women sang loudly with hands and faces lifted to their God.  Women sang softly and unsure of unfamiliar words.  Women simply sat and bowed their heads, overcome with the Spirit in the room.

IF: Gathering gave women a platform they instinctively know and are comfortable with: words across a table.  They discovered tables erasing the differences, the uncertainty, the unfamiliar faces, the perceived groups, and the strangeness.  Words began flowing Friday night and continued into Saturday morning and still words were heard as we left that space Saturday evening.  Words of hope and courage and faith and peace and wonder.  Words heavy with promise and edged in strength.  Words written on stones and piled onto a table to mark our time in this sanctuary.  They carried those words in their hearts and souls.

IF: Gathering was emotionally exhausting and overloaded my spirit.  The Spirit was called into the midst and remained for the duration.  The Lord’s benediction was felt in the worship, the speakers, the eating, and the words shared at tableside.  Prayers surrounded the room and praise was present and thanks were given and felt.

As I stood struggling to sing Saturday morning with the Spirit’s presence overcoming me, I gave in to the tears of thanksgiving and love for my Father who orchestrated the whole collective gathered in that place.  I felt as if I should take off my shoes for I was on holy ground.  A sanctuary had been built, a tabernacle for rest and reassurance and encouragement.

IF: Gathering was holy ground.  And all who entered encountered a loving and forgiving and merciful God.

You are invited to experience it again or for the first time.  On four Monday nights beginning April 13 at 6:00, you can gather at SMC in the Atrium and enter that holy ground.  Jen Hatmaker – Jennie Allen – Christine Caine are just a few who will bring the Word and challenge and encourage you as we study the story of Joshua.  We also have a time for worship and conversations.

You need to let us know if you plan to come so please register at www.exploresmc.org/groups  We guarantee you’ll want to come to all of them, but the door is always open if you can come just a couple of Mondays.

Contact Beth Hildebrand at bhilderbrand@triad.rr.com if you have any questions or to preregister for childcare.

We want you to be there.

Susan

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