I have been going to the 24-7 Prayer annual Gatherings since 2008 and every time I am inspired, convicted, challenged, encouraged. Every time I come away with that warm glow that comes from deep, heart-to-heart chats with dear friends whom I only see once a year because we live in different nations, even different continents. And every year that list of friends grows significantly. This also means that I return home exhausted and bleary-eyed yet my soul is refreshed and my spirit strengthened.
The Overflow, 24-7 Prayer’s 2018 EuroGathering in Vienna, was no different. Yet something was different. There was a fullness this year that is hard to put into words. But with the help of some other Scots who were also there, I shall try.
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” 2 Corinthians 5:18
When you look at the life, ministry, teaching and parables of Jesus I think there is one overarching theme, one word that summarises – reconciliation. What I see in the Great Story of Scripture is God’s longing and plan for the reconciliation of all things, especially relationships – relationship with Him, with one another and even ourselves.
And what we saw and experienced at #Vienna18 was an overflow of unity and reconciliation.
Lal Dhillon of Glasgow shares, “The thing that still stands out the most in my mind is the joy that I found in entering into prayer, worship and community with other Christians from diverse places. It was a real privilege to be part of the 24-7 family in such a real and authentic way.”
And Kenny Roy of Edinburgh shared how his wife Tricia and he felt such a part of it all, part of the family even though it was their first ever Gathering. “I suppose in some ways we were the odd ones out in that we aren’t directly involved in running a prayer room or the like, yet we didn’t ever feel left out. We felt welcomed in and valued and part of the wider 24-7 Prayer family. It was really special.”
There were times of reconciliation with ourselves and with God, where we were challenged and called back to the main vision – Jesus Himself. One of these challenges came on the final morning from Adam Heather and this statement I will not easily forget:
“We have always been a Presence people. Will we remain a Presence people? It’s hard to live sacrificial when you’re concerned with the superficial.”
There were times of encouragement and inspiration, where hope for the reconciliation of all things was reignited and renewed within us. “We hope from the future into the present and it gives us strength”– Pete Greig
But for me the most powerful reconciliation was represented in two particular evenings, alongside the beautiful partnership across the Gathering between 24-7 and the Austrian Catholic youth movement Loretto.
What God spoke on the Thursday evening resulted in an extended time of shared repentance, forgiveness, prayers of blessing and renewed commitment to one another as Protestants and Catholics. It was a stunning moment.
The Friday night in the Cathedral involved a beautiful flow and interweaving of the more contemplative, sensory, adoration style of worship and prayer of our Catholic family with the slightly more energetic, earnest, celebrative style that we would associate more with 24-7. And all this in the midst of many who had not yet met Jesus, watching the broken Body of Christ become one before their very eyes.
“…he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:20 – 23
Healey Rosweir from Edinburgh (originally from Northern Ireland) shares, “My highlight of the Gathering was the resounding cry for unity – seeing the reconciliation I’ve always wanted to see in action and within that, seeing the glimmer of the Kingdom of God!“
Over those 4 days we experienced a portion of the fullness of God that exists only where the Body of Jesus enters into the ministry of reconciliation with Him and we allow Him to build us “together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:14-22).
And this is just the beginning.
If you want to make certain you don’t miss next year’s Gathering, which will be hosted in Belfast, then good news – early bird tickets are already on sale! Maybe even consider giving someone a ticket as a Christmas gift. Click here for more information.