Friday, May 26, 2017

Porch Stories: Community

Kristin's Porch Stories for two days ago Wednesday offers an optimistic How to Find Community. As she pointed out,
Women need friendship like a flower needs water. ... Loneliness is a disease. The best cure for this disease is to find community, which often involves vulnerability, risk-taking, and letting people into our not-so-perfect lives. In an effort to make new friends, I began to ask girls to join me in a small group. Soon, a group of us began to gather for dinner and discussion once a month.

desert spirit's fire porch stories – community

Three weeks ago for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the lectionary reading from Acts 2 gave us a basic biblical model that for a couple of millennia has been a blueprint for local church ministry:

Acts 2:41-43

They gladly received the word Peter preached and three thousand were baptized on that day! [Then] they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.

During the hours and days of your life, doubtless you've noticed God doesn't mind being anonymous and not getting credit for all the awesome stuff that happens that we know only could be by the inspiration and the work of the Holy Spirit? This Acts of the Apostles passage tells us Jesus' apostles had become the teachers and preachers; it tells us the newly baptized gathered for koinonia, a ripely redolent biblical word that's about far more than simple "fellowship" {oh, too many politely tame scriptural-translations-into-English) and camaraderie, as pleasant as that can be. Koinonia helps annihilate the disease of loneliness Kristin mentioned; that devastating disconnected isolation an ad campaign a few years back announced "can kill people." Breaking of bread likely references both dining together – maybe with a contemporaneous potluck equivalent – and to regular observance of the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation Jesus gives us in Lord's Supper.

Especially regarding hoping to Find Community / Koinonia... leads to letting others into our imperfect, sometimes messy lives, even parts we try to hide from ourselves. Kristin started her own Girls Time Out that may be workable for others, or possibly not. Almost two years ago I relocated to Current City that's an even larger major metro area than Previous City; I've been basking in the energy, wakefulness, and cultural diversity all around me. God in the Spirit directed me to a church that's been taking advantage of my background in bible and theology so I've been facilitating 10am mostly lectionary-based adult Sunday School every week. I've done some art and design for the church.

But the biggest gift is every single week we have after worship brunch / lunch / Sunday dinner—depending on who's prepared what. As people typically do, each week I try to sit and visit with people I don't yet know as well as I know those I've already spent time in conversation with. Not many churches have that opportunity, but you could gather your own group for Sunday lunch or brunch at a nearby restaurant once a month or every other month; that becomes a way to sponsor local restaurants and keep $$$ in town. If you'd prefer not to do commerce on Sunday, a related idea would be to potluck in a park or in the function room of a member's condo or apartment complex. BTW, it wasn't quite exactly every single week, but church in former city offered both Second Sunday CafĂ© prepared by a member with her own professional chef business and a Third Friday evening potluck; you easily can guess I tried never to miss out on either!

Warlier in this Porch Stories post I did mention how God doesn't at all mind being anonymous and never insists on getting listed in the credits! I've joined some of the thousands of local interest-focused meetups and I've been to several concerts via that route, No fast friendships yet, but seeing the same people at different venues helps open a door to future possibilities. Depending on your geography, affinity groups and clubs still are safe ways to connect and cautiously begin opening your heart.

I began with shared meals at the beginning of Luke's Volume 2 Book of Acts; table fellowship – food! – is prominent throughout Luke's gospel. sharing a snack, a meal, or a feast is such a leveling experience! Doesn't food usually include conversation? And even some self-revelation? Koinonia includes that "fellowship" notion, but goes further to bring us into the quality of community we discover in holy communion, the astonishing revelation, "we're going to make this place you're home!"

Kristin wonders, "If God is inviting us to a table that is always open and never reserved, who are we inviting to sit at the table with us?" Who have you invited? Who would you love to invite for food, conversation, and homecoming?

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