Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's the little things...

Over the past year and a half, the list of things I am thankful for has changed and grown. When expressing thanks, I often find myself using the phrase "it's the little things." Those things that are often overlooked, often brushed past or unnoticed have felt like milestones in this church starting journey. I want to share a few of those things with you...

  • When I hear someone at The Well say "our church" or "we need to..." (reminds me that we are in this together, something I find very comforting!)
  • Hugs from friends who are glad to see me
  • The encouragement of those who follow this blog, and share their own insights through email, in person or by commenting
  • The sharing of fresh insights into the story of scripture ("I've never thought of it this way before, but...")
  • The realization of what we can do if we each share a small amount (from great potluck dinners to providing for a neighbor in need)
  • A place to meet that immediately felt like "home" to us
  • People eager to partner and "plot goodness" with us
  • Words like "next year, we should..." (reminds me that a faith community has taken shape and is anticipating the future - thanks be to God!)
  • Countless impromptu conversations with strangers who quickly became friends
  • The helpful hands of family and friends (including parents who care for our children after school at least one afternoon every week!)
  • Kevin's words when he gets home from work almost every single night: "I'm always glad to get home to my family." (this time last year, he was still commuting from Atlanta!)
It's all of these little things that add up to one big sense of awareness that God is with me/us on the journey. I pray for greater awareness of these not-so-small reminders, and for the wisdom to pause and give thanks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eating and drinking together

It's ironic that The Well has experienced communion together in both our first monthly worship gatherings. It's ironic because too often in the life of our own family, we forgo eating and drinking together (at the same time, at the same table) because of our schedules. I know that when we are not intentional about eating together, we miss out on valuable time of really seeing and hearing one another. We miss out on being still together and enjoying the gift of a shared meal.

Certainly, the communion meal or Eucharist is about more than enjoying the goodness of food and friendship. In fact, it is a meal rich with symbol and meaning. It is a time of both remembrance and celebration of the life of Christ. It is a metaphor for our receiving, being nourished by, and sharing the gifts we have been given through God's grace. It is a way by which we participate with Christ's first disciples in accepting the reality of our reliance on God to sustain us for the journey of both suffering and joy that will pave the way to the cross and the tomb.

I just finished watching a DVD version of this Sunday's worship gathering. It was really helpful for me to step back and see what took place without being distracted by the responsibility of the logistics. I saw and heard the sounds of a family coming together to participate in something significant. There was the hearing of God's story, the sharing of our personal stories, the singing of songs claiming hope and faith, and the call to accept and participate in the way of restoration. We were invited to respond in several ways to how we heard and saw God in worship, including the response of coming to the table to share in communion. I watched as people slowly and thoughtfully made their way to receive the bread and the cup, and I recognized another meaning of this ancient meal come to life. I witnessed how our eating and drinking together at the Lord's table serve as a means for transforming a group of individuals into a community of acceptance and hospitality where all are welcome. Young, old, black, white, rich, poor came to the table. They ate and drank from the same loaf and cup, and through this shared meal, gave witness to a God who loves and accepts each one of us. Our professions, achievements, incomes and agendas seemed irrelevant. We all needed the bread and the cup, and we were all called to share it as we journeyed from that place.

I was reminded to be grateful for the goodness of God that is experienced as we gather around tables to enjoy food together. Fortunately for The Well, there are always opportunities to enjoy a meal together, including our upcoming 'Gather Round on November 20th. We'll not only share a potluck meal, but we'll have intentional conversation about how feast(s) and table(s) nourish, shape and challenge us as human beings. We'll think, dream and "plot goodness" around how as people of faith we can be more responsible with how we grow, enjoy, purchase and share our food. If you're in Jacksonville, I hope you will join us. You can register here, and then just show up with one of your favorite dishes.

Grace and peace...until our next meal together.