Some things make me happy. Like last Sunday night.
The church group I'm part of stakes its identity on the conviction that community--fellowship, koinonia--is a major part of Jesus' message about the new order of things God is bringing. Just like God frees us through Jesus' death and resurrection to be in his family (John's Gospel says to be "children of God"), so we're freed to be family to one another. This is something we're struggling to learn how to live, to move this from conviction to habit. I think some would call this "discipleship" or, maybe, "spiritual formation."
We've been trying out different ways to do this. We're plotting to begin home groups in the next months. We've already passed around sign up sheets for rotating dinners around each others dining room tables (or on each others living room floors). (If anyone still needs to sign up, email me.) Another way we've been training ourselves in the discipline of friendship is a common potluck after each service.
Last Sunday night, this looked like fifteen or so people, clustering around three or four tables, slurping bowls of white bean chili (a Cindy specialty), chomping garlic bread, and savoring some cake batter cookies (if you've never had these, your taste buds are missing an new world of delight). Even better than the food (which, let me repeat, was quite good), people were trading stories, getting to know one another. Some are old friends--some are old married couples. Some are quite new. Everyone was, perhaps unknowingly, showing what the new life Jesus promised looks like, how it listens and laughs, ask questions, passes the container of cookies. This makes me happy.
We started out calling our Sunday night gatherings "the Five O'Clock Service." I thought that was a generic enough, straight-forward enough. But after some reflection, some prayer, and a few conversations, we're changing the name. From this point forward, we'll be the Five O'Clock Community. I hope when we follow Jesus, it looks a lot more like sharing in a potluck than listening to a sermon.