God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.
"As my husband and I prepared to attend Michigan Presbyterian Pilgrimage #5 (MPP#5) I told our daughter in Louisville, KY that we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into and that we had no clue what we were going to be doing. All we knew was that we would be going to Camp Henry at Newaygo, MI for a long-weekend retreat. Following are some thoughts I would like to share with you about MPP #5.
After a dinner where we were first introduced to Pilgrimage, our next stop was Camp Henry and we were met in the lodge by a circle of happy, smiling people all waiting to greet us by name with a hug or a handshake. The thought went through my mind that these people were way too happy!
As the evening progressed, we each gave our name and why we came to MPP#5. We were soon told that we were not at MPP#5 because someone twisted our arm, or that we ran out of excuses why we couldn't come, or even that we chose to come. We were at MPP#5 because GOD chose US to come! Imagine....GOD chose ME!
Later, during communion by intinction in the chapel, the pastor poured the wine too quickly and it splashed right on out the other side of the chalice and onto the floor. As the bread and wine were passed I happened to look down at the mess on the concrete floor. Suddenly I realized that our Lord's blood really was shed for ME....it's shed right there on the floor in front of me!
Fast forward now to Sunday evening! It's been an exciting and busy three days with lots of talks and conversations and lots of new friends, but the best was yet to come! MMP#5 ended on an unbelievably high note and we all returned to our homes and the comfort of our own beds to reflect on the weekend! We had been told that when we left Camp Henry the world would be the same but that we would be different. It was only two days later when I found that statement to be true.
On Tuesday morning I stepped into the bathtub for my morning shower. I washed my hair and grabbed my scrunchie and the shower gel and put my normal three dollops of gel onto the scrunchie. I looked at it as I held it in my hand and the thought crossed my mind that our faith is just like those three dollops of shower gel....if we don't show our faith it just sort of sets there and does nothing. But when we squeeze that scrunchie the soap bubbles up and the more we squeeze the more bubbles we have. If we massage our faith it too suddenly bubbles up and just as we put that scrunchie to work on our body and the bubbles grow even bigger and stronger so too does our faith grow bigger and stronger when we put it to work in our lives! Now as I stood there in the shower-soaking wet it came to me that all these thoughts about shower gel on a scrunchie and my faith almost could be made into a story! "Whoa, God, what are you doing to me...I'm not a writer or a storyteller. I don't have a way with words... I don't like to get speak in front of people! What are you planning for me now?" But I hurriedly dried off and wrapped my towel around me and went out to the computer and put my idea down....you know that things may only orbit once and be gone forever if we don't write them down!
"God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus." (Max Lucado) I'll be at MPP#6 in November as a part of the team...I hope to see you there! God loves you and so do I!"
Carol Ann Pattengale
Pilgrimage strengthened me and deepened my faith
"I was invited to Pilgrimage several times, but always had an excuse not to go---too inconvenient, had to take time off of work, find someone to watch my son, and several other reasons. I had an overwhelming urge that this was the one I needed to go to. The "urge'" kept getting stronger so I put all my excuses aside and went in April 2011. Pilgrimage is led by lay people and a few pastors. This is what makes pilgrimage powerful. Ordinary Christians, from numerous churches, work hard together to bring three extraordinary days to others, explaining their faith and demonstrating Christ's impact in their lives. Guests set aside the earthly world for 72 hours and can focus on their spiritual lives totally surrounded by a Christian community. Christians are required to be out in the world, but occasionally need to renew and recharge themselves. Pilgrimage strengthened me and deepened my faith. It was among the three most important days in my Christian walk. Since I have made my weekend I have served on team and now on the Leadership Council."
In Christ Name,
Pilgrimage was a time of profound peace...
Pilgrimage was a time of profound peace for me. I experienced more love and grace than within all of my life combined. I was able to spend quality time in God's presence and get away from the rest of the world. I highly recommend it for everyone.
I didn't realize I was part of God's plan
"I have been a Christian since I was eleven. But until I attended a Pilgrimage weekend, I didn't realize I was part of God's plan - me personally."
(MPP having been a guest at North Carolina Pilgrimage #34)
The Pilgrimage experience continues to resonate in my life
"The care provided by the team was a deeply touching demonstration of how Grace flows into our lives. I also experienced how prayer can be answered in unexpected ways at unexpected times and in unexpected places. The Pilgrimage experience continues to resonate in my life."
I have felt the arms of our Lord holding me up
"Keep asking your friends to come. It took my sponsor asking from MPP #2 through #15 to get me to say yes. I knew I should go, but felt that other things I was involved in were more important --- how stupid of me Nothing is more important than growing your relationship with God. Since MPP #15, I have worked weekends and accepted Rector when asked. Life has been a roller coaster, but I have felt the arms of our Lord holding me up --- What a feeling! We must be still and listen and MPP weekends give you the time."
"How do we summarize our weekend experience? WOW! I loved being immersed in an environment that loved me in spite of myself. I was able to step out of my way, see me as others see me – more importantly, as JESUS sees me – and extend some forgiveness and healing to myself thru the love of Christ. Awesome stuff! "
You will never have a better experience in learning what it means to give yourself to others
"It was a privilege to serve on the team for MPP #6. Our dear Lord and Savior takes your breath away doesn't He? My prayer is that more and more people will have the privilege to attend these weekends because you truly get a sense of a servant's heart!
I pray that our guests will want to come back and work next spring. I promise you, you will never have a better experience in learning what it means to give yourself to others. You may think that the team did a lot of work and got nothing out of it like you did, but I am a living testimony to God that as a team member, I truly received His Grace through serving you."
God Loves You and So Do I,
(MPP having experienced the Walk to Emmaus Weekend)