My husband and I have embarked on a new adventure – we are starting a new church. With that comes much contemplating on essential elements of “church.” Ron is writing a series on the characteristics of a dynamic church and today he wrote about breaking bread with others, or simply sharing meals.
It reminded me of my childhood days. Sunday dinner was a standard in our house. Mom prepared foods that could be fixed a day ahead, or left in the oven on Sunday mornings. She had special recipes that worked best for Sundays. Her Sunday rolls were heavenly! But not only did we have good food, my parents invited someone to join us nearly every week. We lived in Norfolk, Virginia, home to several military installations. Oftentimes my parents invited hungry sailors home. Other times they invited friends with whom they shared life.
And there was more. Often on Sunday evening our parents would invite more folks over. We had simple finger foods, laughter, games, just plain good fun. For a while they led the teen group so it was expected for teens to gather at the house on Sunday nights. Their parents might come as well to socialize in the other room.
Thinking about breaking bread together also reminded me of early days in our marriage. We attended a large church and were blessed to be a part of an excellent Sunday School class of young married folks. It was in that class that we formed friendships and built connections to the larger community that was that church. We were drawn to one couple in particular, David and Vicki. We shared meals together often. We even met together weekly to pray together and I can’t tell you how precious that time was. Our hearts were knit together, and our love for God grew.
We are meant to share life together in community. The early church “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” It wasn’t just about food or fun … it was entering each other’s story, sharing together, bearing together, encouraging one another, carrying one another.
Eugene Peterson writes, “Life isn’t an accumulation of abstractions such as love and truth, sin and salvation, atonement and holiness; life is the realization of details that all connect organically, personally, specifically: names and fingerprints, street numbers and local weather, lamb for supper and a flat tire in the rain. God reveals himself to us … in the kind of stories that we use to … tell our friends who we are and what it’s like to be human.”
A key element of church is the interweaving of our lives, the sharing of our stories. And even better … getting in on God’s story!