LWSA-NT Retreat – All Stitched Up!

Extraordinary, amazing, singular, exceptional are words to sum up the LWSA-NT In Stitches Retreat held at Immanuel College, Adelaide from January 17th-19th. Pastor Reid Matthias (of the “Little Church on The Prairie” fame) welcomed retreaters to the fabulous new venue for the 2020 retreat. Pastor Reid is a storyteller, and he did have us in stitches as he shared stories of his journey growing up at Rake, Iowa, on the Prairie in the USA. Pastor Reid introduced himself as the Quilter’s son, a great story in itself … born one of triplets with a sister and an identical twin brother. 

A quilt-like collage of images from the retreat.Bound and Determined, the first reflection: Pastor Reid grew up in a home where the family all pitched in to cook, clean, do chores, sing, dance and sew! This family was stitched together by faith, spending time producing beautiful quilts (some on display.) Binding a quilt takes time, and a totally hand-stitched wedding quilt made for Reid and Christine (his wife) was used as an example. God sees what we can’t see. We see broken hearts and shattered dreams, but God sees the big picture! We need help to see how we can clothe ourselves as God’s chosen people. We need a change of fashion from the ugliest outfit ever to an outfit where God takes us to the fabric shop to put on the garments described in Colossians 3:12–14.

The morning guest speaker, Shaun Manning, ‘the little ray of sunshine’ from Sunshine, Victoria, is bound for Naracoorte to be the pastor there. Shaun was almost aborted by his very young, single mother. It was his Nan who gave Shaun stability at age 11-12. God plucked him out of the situation, convicting him through a youth group his mate invited him to. A multitude of experiences, good and not so good, have shaped Shaun. He is engaged to Jacqui whom he will marry later this year. A big story of God’s grace in Shaun’s life is an ongoing journey still unfolding …

The afternoon guest speaker, Raeleen Wandel regaled us with her passion and that of others who sew, making quilts and laundry bags for deployed service men and women. This is done through an online organisation “Aussie Quilts for Heroes”. These are given as gifts and, small as the gesture may seem, they can make a huge difference, even between life and death. Every item is prayed over by Raeleen and the gift, the prayer and the acknowledgement knits together those far away from their homes and loved ones into the fabric of a caring community.

The offering of $1,380 received is to be shared equally between Lutheran Community Care and “Aussie Quilts for Heroes”. Attendance was just under 70, with Karina Penhall from Alice Springs representing the NT at retreat; thank you Karina for singing and your painting.

I of the Needle was the second reflection. Reid uses his life experience stories to engage people of all ages. What is the next thing God will stitch into your life? We might have “waterproof” ideas about Jesus but he pokes holes in what we do or think. In Mark 9 Jesus takes Peter, James and John to his transfiguration … a wow experience! What would have they been expecting? What was the conversation between Jesus, Moses and Elijah? Can we stitch up buildings to ‘contain’ God? The mountain top experience ends, like the worship service ends – but then the real service begins, a service that may discomfort us, but it will stretch us and make us grow. 

Saturday night the program was listed thus: Fun night together with the Matthias family and lots of singing. This talented family AKA Disciple 13 – next generation (think disciple 13, Acts 1:26) Reid, Christine, Elsa, Josephine and Greta made our hearts sing as they stitched us through their musical gifts and abilities and infectious smiles deeper into the grace and love of Jesus. 

Knit what you Expected the third reflection exposes the church crying out hidden but blunt; what good is a blunt arrow? Just as God commissioned Isaiah 49:6 we’re called to be a mirror rather than an arrow. God will give us what we ask for, but it won’t happen in the building; we’ll be doing it stitched together, mirroring the light of Jesus’ love. Intersecting like pieces in a quilt we take steps to add new people by remembering their names – number one importance! Listen to and learn their stories. Pray for them but ask them what you can pray for them. Pray the Lord’s Prayer with them (the catechism gives simple but profound explanations for each petition.) Let them pray too! Together we can be mirrors for God; remembering the best days are still to come …

Every year I wonder, “How much better can retreat be?” I go to find out and I’m blessed beyond belief! Come along in 2021 and enjoy the fellowship of being stitched together in Jesus. There are copious amounts of everything both physical and spiritual to nourish and stitch you in.

Joy Christian

About the Author

Editorial Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *