It's almost Thanksgiving weekend, and here at Sanctuary London, we have SO MUCH to be thankful for!
It's been a couple of busy weeks for the Sanctuary community here in London. On Wednesday, October 5th we had our huge Thanksgiving feast with all the fixin's. Before opening with prayer, our friends were asked to share a few things that they were thankful for. The response was overwhelming! After over five minutes of "I'm thankful for this…" and I’m thankful for that…" we actually had to cut people off to prevent the food from getting too cold! All of our meat for the night (turkey AND chicken!) was donated, and there was plenty of food to spare, so we sent it home with our friends after all 90+ people were full to the brim!
On September 23rd a group of 27 of the people from our core community embarked on a three-day retreat to a magnificent summerhouse on Lake Erie. It was an opportunity not just to get away and relax and fellowship, but also to study scripture and grow spiritually together. There were four very focused sessions in which together we learned about four different "Portraits of Jesus" from the gospels.
On Saturday night we studied the crucifixion of our Messiah. Two dramatic readings were shared, the first from the perspective of Barabbas, who, like us fully deserved to be punished for the crimes he committed. The second story was from the perspective of Simon of Cyrene. Simon was forced to literally carry the cross for Jesus to the place where He was to be crucified. In Mark 8: 34-38, Jesus says to each one of us today, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me". Can you see yourself in both of these men’s' shoes? Christ took yours and my place on the cross. But he also asks for us to respond by taking up our own crosses and follow Him. So, after these two stories were shared, each person at the retreat was given the opportunity to light a candle and place it on the cross (we made) to symbolically lay our pain, condemnation, struggles and guilt at the foot of the cross, and in community, pick up the comfort, joy, responsibility, peace and changes that come with following our Savior. It was an incredible experience and many of our friends shared some pretty amazing stories not only of the pain in their lives, but also about how God is working in their hearts to bring about healing.
We would like to send out a huge thank you to the Postma family for welcoming us into your home, and providing a beautiful location for this retreat!
On October 1st Sanctuary hosted its first Royal Ball. It was an incredible opportunity for the greater Sanctuary community to come together and celebrate as one body. After opening with delicious desserts, Greg Paul, founder of Sanctuary Toronto, shared some very encouraging words with us, and then… What better way to celebrate than by dancing for our King? Ballroom Breeze taught a quick dance lesson and then the entire community rose to our feet and danced the rest of the night away!
Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Ball, and also to those who couldn't make it but sent in donations to help with the costs of the evening. We would also like to thank John Sloan who took on the role of organizing the event. What an amazing night!