This is a recent post written for the Parablog of Fellowship Church as a part of Lent.

This past weekend, lots of folks from our Fellowship community headed up to camp in Lake City for our Better Together All Church Retreat. At our first gathering, we met three characters who would show up throughout the weekend: Randy Rinkleson (Pastor Ross), Amber (Pastor Lindsay), and Jake (Pastor Nate). We learned that Amber and Jake were from Mope College and had gotten a great deal on a spring break vacation to Lake City. They got off the plane only to find that they are in Lake City…. Michigan, not Florida!

Randy Rinkleson, as the mayor of the town, greeted them by saying, "Welcome to Lake City! Where the lakes are mostly frozen, the people are almost Yoopers, and the sun is always shining....somewhere else." Randy then showed Amber and Jake that Lake City is a great place to be by including them in crazy games and activities that could only happen at a retreat; things like squirt guns, flying goldfish crackers, and whipped cream. In a way, this became a parable about belonging that unfolded before our eyes. We saw strangers in a new community become embraced through a warm welcome and doing life together.

If you were at the retreat this weekend or at Fellowship on Sunday, you learned about words we use frequently at Fellowship: Belong, Grow, and Serve. You will find that we represent these with three colored dots in blue (belong), green (grow), and orange (serve). Here are a couple of my takeaways from this full and fun weekend.

At the retreat, our speaker, Tanner Smith, shared that these three words together are the foundations of being a church. In particular, serving moves us into surrendering our own agenda and following what God wants us to do. He shared a story from Mark 14 where a woman pours expensive perfume on Jesus as an anointing before he is killed. Jesus had been telling the disciples of his upcoming death and they did not believe him. This woman believed Jesus and "did what she could" (Mark 14:8). This became a challenge from Tanner to "Do something beautiful. Do what you can."

At Fellowship on Sunday morning, Pastor Ross shared a parable from Matthew 18:21-35. In this story a king decides to collect all outstanding debts that are owed him. One man owes millions of dollars and pleads to the king and is forgiven his debt. This man then goes to someone who owes him a couple thousand dollars and will not forgive the debt. Once the king learns this, he arrests the man and sends him to prison until his debt is repaid. We are reminded that we have been forgiven much and, we too, must forgive others. It is also an act of surrender and results in freedom for you and the person you forgive.

What beautiful thing is God inviting you to do now, this week, or as your life work? Is it serving in a way that addresses a pain in this world or might it be in forgiving someone for a pain that has impacted you? Either one is a true act of beauty and courage.

With that, welcome back to Fellowship where everybody belongs, everybody grows, everybody serves, and the Son is always shining.....through us!