On a beautiful June weekend, a small group gathered in person for a Holy Habits retreat weekend in the lovely setting of Cliff College in the Peak District.
Some early arrivers took the opportunity to enjoy a cream tea at the local village tea rooms. All those who gathered ended the weekend in a simple but profound act of breaking bread. Those two acts, bookending the retreat time, expressed in different ways a theme that was to run throughout the time of worship, prayer, conversation and eating together. That theme was eucharistic living.
When, some years ago, I shared a conversation with Barbara Glasson about the bread-making Church, Somewhere Else in Liverpool, I asked how they shared Holy Communion and how that helped them to grow as disciples of Jesus. I’ll always remember her answer: ‘Holy Communion is not something we do,’ Barbara said (although they do celebrate the sacrament that was instituted by Jesus); ‘it is who we are. A blessed, thankful, broken and shared people.’ They seek to live eucharistically with the specific sacramental act of sharing the Lord’s Supper giving focus to that. Over the weekend we thought together about how we could live more fully as blessed, thankful, broken and shared people, nurtured by the holy habits that we see in the Acts 2 community.
Another a major theme that wove itself into our thinking over the weekend was that of atonement. That theme emerged in our reflection on the holy habit of koinonia or fellowship. Understandably our primary focus when thinking about fellowship are the relations we share within the community of the church and the need for these relationships to reflect the fellowship that we see within the divine community of the Trinity. Atonement or at-one-ment has a big part to play in this with the cross of Christ taking a central place. But for many there is a growing recognition that at-one-ment has another significant application, and that lies in the healing of creation and the reconciliation of relationships between human beings and the rest of the created order. The recent tragic floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are a powerful reminder of this.
On the Saturday evening we gathered around the cross in the Cliff College grounds and sang 'When I Survey the Wondrous Cross',* giving thanks for all that the cross means for our own personal salvation and for the reconciliation and healing of all creation. It was a powerful and precious moment – just one of a number that made the weekend so special.
If you would like to be part of next years Holy Habits retreat weekend, it is pencilled in for 4–6 March 2022 and you would be very welcome. More details will be posted in due course on both the Cliff College and Holy Habits websites.
* at a safe and permissible distance from each other.