Jesus – “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35
I have often wondered why I enjoy dinner parties so much – especially when they are at our home. You have to make the house look nice ahead of time, and then there’s all that food prep, plus the task of cleaning the kitchen afterwards often carries over to the following day. It’s a lot of work.
Yet, serving good food, then sitting around the table with friends enjoying great conversation, is absolutely one of the best possible ways to spend an evening that I know.
Maybe it’s the all-inclusive theme of nourishment? Nourishing our bodies; nourishing our spirits; nourishing our relationships. Fact is, we were created specifically for the purpose of enjoying community – communion both with God and with one another. Being together, breaking bread in community, is always a spiritual experience. It’s a spiritual experience any where, any time.
I love the way Peterson paraphrases Christ’s words about this – “And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matthew 18:20).
Monday night’s gathering included three newly elected WFPC church officers and their spouses. Jon and Tony will be serving as elders, and Joy is a new deacon. They just finished eight weeks of training with Rebekah, and will be ordained May 28.
Rebekah’s theory of leadership development centers around the principle of building community. We are invited to know one another, to share our stories, to love each other, to pray for each other, to grow in faith together, and to do the work of The Church from the context of a mutual love for Jesus, and a shared ministry.
This is not the same as agreeing about everything, sharing the same political views, thinking in lockstep, or rubber-stamping all the pastor’s ideas. Building community means:
- doing life together;
- understanding that we all follow the same Lord;
- sharing a commitment to encourage one another along the path;
- praying together;
- learning together;
- loving unconditionally;
- celebrating together… holding one another up when there is grief to bear;
- being willing to struggle together;
- honoring those who see things from different perspectives;
- sharing our hopes and dreams as well as our fears and doubts;
- living our faith – not anonymously but out loud.
Breaking bread together is what the church looks like. Having people around our table for dinner is not only a manifestation of the Body of Christ, it’s part of what it takes to be the church.
Being the Body of Christ is a one hundred percent investment; 24-7; 7-52. If church is only something you do when you’re at 12605 Capital Blvd, or when you’re “on the clock,” then it likely never really was church to begin with.
So there I go, beginning with a post about a dinner party and ending by talking about how we build community and grow together as the Body of Christ!
But I don’t think I diverged at all. I believe that if The Church (our church, your church, any church) is going to be relevant at all over the next few decades, then it has to more completely define itself – redefine itself if necessary – in terms of intentional community.
Jesus was as clear about this as he was about anything: “The world is going to be convinced of the truth about me – my life, my words, my invitation to know God – only to the extent that you all (y’all – the church) demonstrate authentic love – in effect modeling my love as a vibrant community, an invitation, a living testimony to grace” (John 13 – author paraphrase).
Why don’t you come and see?
In love, and most certainly because of love – DEREK