Dear Women of Epiphany,
We came together for our December retreat for two+ hours of reading and discussing Scripture, sharing and learning from one another, and enjoying warm fellowship in Christ. Our guest speaker was Diane Carlisle, who talked about the spiritual discipline of Pilgrimage.
Our overall theme was based on 1 Peter 4:10.
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
We started with delicious breakfast provided by Leslie Ann and Wendy (thank you!). Next our co-chair Elizabeth reminded us of the April 12-14 weekend retreat, which will be led by Shannon Polson, author and Epiphany daughter. In preparation we will be reading her book The Grit Factor: Courage, Resilience, and Leadership in the Most Male-Dominated Organization in the World. A book discussion will be scheduled likely in February, date TBA.
We then had an opening prayer, and read together through Hour by Hour, including the beautiful and meditative Psalm 42.
The bulk of our discussion was based on Bible passages from Forward day by Day. The reader of each passage thoughtfully distilled and shared important ideas (thank you readers Ann, Sherilyn, Inez, Sally, and Kat!). This inevitably started a warm and lively discussion, with many words of wisdom and perspective from our Epiphany sisters.
We talked about finding and recognizing our individual gifts and talents given to us by God. As stewards of God’s gifts we have a responsibility to use them to serve others. As described by the singer Amy Grant, how ungrateful would I be to God not to appreciate and share my gift. Our gifts may change throughout our lives.
In our Old Testament reading we talked about the gifts of music in worship, the grief and devastation of the captive nation of Israel and its desire for justice and victory over its enemies. We contrasted this with Jesus’ words and message of Peace for all. We talked about David’s absolute confidence and faith in God, his Rock – and our own need for a Rock to count on in our lives. We explored the idea of the compassion, clemency, and faithfulness of God, who will “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
We talked about the arc of history and different wisdom moving from Old to New Testament. From the New Testament reading we discussed loving one another as Christians, different forms of love, and the idea of communal love or charity. As we each use our imperfect individual gifts to serve in community, we can form a more perfect whole in the image of God. From Forward Day by Day: “when all people give freely of their talents and their resources, the result is a healthy community”. We explored the importance of listening beyond the noise of the crowd, and asking God for what we need. We appreciated the beautiful image of Jesus reaching out, touching, and healing the eyes of the blind men who asked for sight.