Part 1 of series: Sharing Laity Lodge
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If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you know that I’ve taken a new position as the Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge, a multifaceted ministry in the Hill Country of Texas. One of my responsibilities in this position is to organize and facilitate retreats at Laity Lodge. During the school year I’ll be out in “the Canyon” where Laity Lodge is located once a month or so. In the summer, I’ll be out there for almost all of our retreats. When I am not overseeing a retreat, most of the time my fellow Director, Steven Purcell, will be in charge. He will take the lion’s share of the retreats during the school year as I focus on the broader responsibilities associated with my job.
In the last few weeks I’ve participated in two retreats at Laity Lodge: a men’s retreat for men from Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin and a leadership retreat. During both of these retreats, I found myself wishing I could share with others what I was experiencing through the teaching, the music, and so forth. To be sure, part of what makes a retreat at Laity Lodge special cannot be experienced apart from being there. It’s impossible to convey adequately the sense of peacefulness, freedom, reverence, joy, and friendship that one experiences at a retreat in the Canyon. Nevertheless, some of what Laity Lodge offers can be shared through the Internet, and that’s what I’ll try to do in this series.
I expect I’ll offer different kinds of material in this blog series. Sometimes I’ll put up highlights from the speakers. At other times you’ll get, not descriptions of what I heard so much as my own responses. I may also comment on the musicians and artists, or on anything else that seems worth sharing with my blog readers.
Now you may wonder if I have a hidden agenda here: Am I really trying to get you to come to a retreat at Laity Lodge? Let me be clear from the outset: Sure! I’d love to have some of my readers participate in Laity Lodge retreats. I think what we do out there is fantastic, and I’d love to get more of my friends involved. In fact, several of the folk I have met at Laity Lodge in the last month have turned out to be among my “blog audience.” That’s been fun for me. But even if you never actually visit Laity Lodge, I hope this series will allow you to enjoy some of God’s gifts that are given so lavishly there. (You can find out much more about Laity Lodge at our website.)
I expect that I’ll contribute to this series occasionally. It will be of the “on-again, off-again” type. Chances are you’ll get more in the summer and less during the school year. But, who knows? One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to start out on a literary journey without knowing exactly where it is going.
A Word from Lloyd Ogilvie
Last weekend’s leadership retreat featured Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, former Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, and my pastor and mentor for the last 35 years. In my next post I’ll say a bit more about what Lloyd shared in his four messages. Today I want only to highlight one his sentences, one that I’ve probably heard at least a hundred times, one that has had a huge influence on my life. Here’s the sentence:
“To be in Christ is to be in the ministry.”
The phrase “in Christ” is common in the letters of St. Paul. It describes the status, almost the location, of all believers in Jesus. If you are a Christian, then you are “in Christ.”
And also “in the ministry.” Now I realize that it’s common to speak of “the ministry” as that into which clergy are ordained. Only pastors, preachers, and priests are “in the ministry,” according to common speech. But Lloyd Ogilvie faithfully summarizes the biblical vision of God’s people, in which all Christians are called into and empowered for the ministry of Christ.
If you read my last series, Why Move?, you know that I first learned this fundamental biblical truth from none other than Lloyd Ogilvie, when I was fourteen years old. It has had a profound impact on my life since then, and is one of the main reasons I have joined the team of Laity Lodge. What Lloyd put into one succinct sentence lies at the heart and soul of Laity Lodge’s vision.
Oh, if only the people of God really believed that “to be in Christ is to be in the ministry”! How liberating this would be! How challenging! How transformational of individual lives, families, churches, businesses, and universities . . . even of governments and whole societies! Lloyd Ogilvie had more to say about the implications of this basic truth. I’ll summarize a bit further in my next post.