We all got together around 5p-ish. Handshakes and greetings and even a few hugs between friends. There wasn’t any worry about starting ‘on time’, no printed schedule of events to keep us ‘on track’. Refreshment in the form of beer, wine and two Mike’s Lemonades were there, also provided in a pot-luck type fashion. All were brought willingly. Dinner was also done in a pot-luck fashion, all contributing to the whole – spaghetti, salad, garlic bread and a homemade round of sourdough bread. Prayer & blessing over the food came naturally. The kids were already chowing down by the time we prayed, but it didn’t matter. This was community and God didn’t withold his presence or blessing because the children were hungry.
On the table was our communal cup and bread. We had done this once before so we understood. But for the reader, this is how we did Communion: A wine glass, filled about halfway was placed in the middle of our table with a pie-type slice of the sourdough round. Break a piece of bread, dip in wine and consume. There was no need for a lengthy lecture on communion. We understood the meaning. In short: His body was broken for us, His blood was shed for us. There was no pressure on whether to take communion or not. There was no pressure to rake ourselves over the coals to ‘examine’ ourselves or not. We understood (from my point of view) that only Jesus has made us worthy and that we took it in remembrance of what He has done, understanding there is nothing we could add to what He did. For me, a small, quiet “Thank you, Jesus” sufficed as I took the bread and the wine.
Throughout this whole time and through dinner, good conversation was shared. Some of us getting to know each other better, some catching up. Hearing each other’s experiences, some unique, some similar or shared. Neither one-sided or self-centered. (Although, I felt that I did talk a little too much…alas my gift and curse. However, my friends and family in Christ were more than welcoming and patient with it.)
Dinner wrapped up naturally, again no pressure to stay on target with a specific time. We took our coffee (or wine in my case) to the living room and gathered in to share in a prepared word by one of the people who came.
Although kind-hearted jokes were made, there wasn’t an ‘offering’ to worry over. There wasn’t a five minute schtick about why and how to give. Missing was the ‘heart to heart’ talk given by so many a pastor on how much it costs to ‘run’ the household where our host lived in order that we may ‘understand’ what it ‘takes’ to keep the house ‘running’. We were all, in one way or another, an offering. We brought food, drink, fellowship, each other and our hearts in Christ. And, gloriously, there was more than enough.
Now – we all knew who was going to share. However, I noticed that in this setting, with the heart we had for this expression of community and shared faith and fellowship, there was no “buzzing” around the topic of what our good friend would share. We weren’t sending out flyers or trying to ‘pimp out’ the fact that he was going to share a word to the community so we could pack our host’s house to the gills. We didn’t put everything out there on Facebook with the implied suggestion that if someone wasn’t “with us” at this gathering that they were going to miss out on encountering God. None of that nonsense.
Yes, there was worship. But not as ‘expected’. Our guest led us in a song. One song. That was it and that was sufficient. There was room left, freedom enough for more if necessary or if there was a ‘leading’ for it. The song wasn’t one I had heard before. It wasn’t a popular Jesus Culture song, nor was it a song I had ever heard on Air One or KTSY (two popular radio stations in my area). In that it was more than refreshing. The song purely and simply pointed us to Christ.
On worship. We all had the same understanding that Christ/His Holy Spirit was already within us. There wasn’t any pressure (again…are you catching a theme here) to “entertain” the Spirit. There wasn’t any worry about Him ‘moving’, there wasn’t any worry about having ‘enough’ worship songs. We understood, it was Christ in us that is the hope of Glory, not ‘worshipping Christ enough so he visits’.
So, the word was shared. In this, it was refreshing: it was conversational. He didn’t assume a stance above us, or hide behind a makeshift pulpit in the living room. Our friend sat among us. Naturally. There was no division between speaker and ‘the crowd’.
As he shared, there was room and freedom to share between us. Again, it was conversational. Occasionally he would ask a question, but this again spurred conversation. We shared our thoughts and hearts, but we didn’t hijack things away from the speaker either and he would lead on.
This came to a natural end as we continued the conversation a little bit in the kitchen as dessert was prepared. More thoughts on Christ and things shared between us.
As naturally as it began, it concluded and we needed to go our separate ways. Putting kids to bed, wrapping things up to get ready for tomorrow, etc.
To (loosely) quote Alan, (our speaker) before he began sharing:
“When we used to go to church, we came early and stayed late, so we were hungry and tired. Now, when we do this type of gathering, we come, we leave full. We leave refreshed and rested.”
So well said.
We are on this journey together trying to find a ‘better’ way of living this life out. Letting it happen naturally, unforced and unpressured.
I look forward to seeing how this life continues to express itself.