Madrid '14 Highlights: My Pilgrimage to PresceniaAndy Freeman - 5 Nov 2014

My pilgrimage to Prescenia, the 2014 gathering of the 24-7 family, started at about 3am on a coldish London morning.  

I had an early flight to catch and wasn’t really in the mood.   This is God, who finds us when we least expect it and even when we try to avoid him. Sleeping a few more hours or getting on my feet to go find Jesus?  I knew which one I’d rather choose.

Our gathering in El Escorial, Spain was beautiful.  We met about half an hours drive from Madrid.  Mountains stretched out before us. Our home a faithful seminary which I’m sure has housed many hours of prayer and many hours of study over the years.  This is God, for whom no act of devotion goes unnoticed.

In these few days we were drawn deeply into the presence of God. All through our time an empty chair on the stage symbolized that He was with us.  Some met God in singing, led by the wonderful Aitor and Loida. Some met God in the quiet of the prayer room.  Some met God through Andy Hunter’s beautiful ‘Presence’ performance. For others the joy was finding him in solitude in their beautiful gardens.

For me, I found Jesus in our mealtimes.  300 people gathered closely round tables, chatting and sharing. Here was deep vulnerability in the honesty and equality of a meal.  This is God, who broke bread and wine with his friends. 

          
 
Our gathering was diverse.  Deep learning through seminars and talks infused with faith, layered with wisdom and deeply practical. We prayed with intensity, giving the Middle East in particular our attention, but also the walls that divide us at home, in cities and in nations and continents.  We asked once again for God to presence himself amongst the poor and vulnerable.  This is God, who is friend to the lost and lonely, who can be found on the streets.

Our gathering told stories. Fernando seeing Jesus in his living room in Spain; Uncle Henry being healed in South Africa; more than a thousand people rescued from the streets in Ibiza this summer; salvation coming to the Syrian refugee camps; 2,200 people giving their lives to Jesus in Northern Ireland over the last seven months; non-Christians prayer walking in Greece; hundreds of thousands of children using prayer rooms in schools.

This is God, whose fame goes before Him and whose stories have changed nations.

                           

The climax of our gathering was a beautiful celebration. Great food and company. Incredible Flamenco dancing in the halls of the beautiful El Escorial Monastery.  That night ended in generosity as we all took part in a crazy auction, buying hand-made bags for ridiculous prices and then blessing people in the movement who give so much and have little.  I cried.  We all cheered.  This is God who’s presence is revealed in the generosity of ordinary people.  

This is God who is found in parties and prayer rooms. This is God who gives us life to the full.

We went to Spain to a gathering called Presence, and we found Him.

 

You can see more from Madrid '14 by checking our feature on the main session talks

Andy Freeman

Andy Freeman is 44 years old and a father to 5 beautiful kids.  He lives in Winchester, England.  Andy was part of the team that pioneered 24-7's first Boiler Room community and is a regular contributor to New Monasticism in the UK and abroad.  Andy works developing resources and supporting those in pioneering mission in the UK Church.  He's also a freelance writer.  Andy loves reading, movies, music, cricket (the sport) and Arsenal football club.  You can continue to dialogue with Andy on his twitter (@AndyFMusings).

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