When strangers walked through my front door along with a diverse mixture of people I knew, I wasn't sure how this would go.
My daughter had organized this gathering, feeling strongly that those of us who are Christ-followers and also passionate about digging below the surface of what is really going on in our world, should meet.
We gathered our tea and snacks and then I ushered them into a small sitting room with glass doors overlooking the lake.
As we talked, the sky turned black as quickly as water going through my Keurig.
At one point the man across from me got a funny look on his face as he looked past me. "It can't be that time." His wife's mouth shot open and her eyes became large buttons.
I craned my neck around to look at the huge metal wall clock hanging behind me. No way it could be 10:15. But I remembered I had just changed the batteries.
Someone checked their phone. Yes indeed. Three and a half hours had flown by as quickly as the bunnies running from our dogs in the yard.
"This is church," my heart whispered as I looked around this group. A young man with his hair draping over his plaid shirt soon to be married, a military man, a woman who signed as she talked, my daughter, her aunt, a friend from long ago…
We had shared our hearts. We had prayed when we felt the Spirit urging us to pray. We read Scripture. We challenged one another. We supported each other.
As the days passed my heart warmed at the remembrance of that little gathering, and I look forward to our next meeting and welcoming others to it. And it brought back memories of other small groups I have been a part of over the years.
I reflected on the gatherings of believers Paul and his various companions would travel around to visit and encourage in the faith.
The church, the ekklesia, the assembly.
Sometimes church happens as we enter a building with an official sign. The preaching, teaching, worship, baptism, serving, the Lord's supper…all so important.
But sometimes church happens at other times and in other places. Sweet fellowship. Laying of hands for healing, serving each other, taking care of those in need, eating together, prophesying, thankfulness, forgiveness, encouraging each other in the faith, praying for each other, confronting in love, preparing to suffer for the sake of the gospel, sharing together with those who have not heard the good news of what Jesus' death accomplished.
Father, thank you that we don't have to walk alone, that you have given us each other to walk together. Thank you for giving us skin on your love. That when one of us stumbles, someone is there with hand outstretched to help us get back up.Thank you for how different you have made us, like puzzle pieces with varying shapes and colors that fit together to make a beautiful picture. Thank you Holy Spirit and Christ for guiding us in all ways right and holy. Your church is beautiful and preparing for your return.