The church hall on Tuesday mornings are a place buzzing with activity. Three or four of us gather around 10:00 am and start cooking up the soup for the community lunch. Each Tuesday the cooks for the week ask expectantly if I have a recipe for the soup–they are still getting used to working with me. Like music–I never do anything the same way twice. No–no recipe–we’ll just make it up as we go along. There’s lots of laughter and story telling as we get to work. It’s a great time to get to know people: about their family, their history, the things they love to do–even a little politics. Before noon everything is ready and so we get a little time to drink some coffee and just enjoy the smell of our efforts and hope that the meal will be well received. Soon folks start to filter in–some familiar faces and some new ones. The guys from the maintenance committee seem to be planning their work for Tuesday mornings these days and arranging things so that they are in the kitchen area around noon–imagine that! The hall is louder than the 20 or so dinners would suggest possible and every table is animated with conversation. The congregation members make certain that the unfamiliar faces become part of the group and soon it is impossible to tell the guest from the long-time member. This is church at its best. By about 1:00 pm I start to wonder if this will continue for another half hour or so but then all of a sudden folks start to get up, say their goodbyes and go on their way. The four of us clean up–it doesn’t take very long and Fred is such a wiz with the dishes. By 1:30 I’m in my office thinking any way you want to measure this community lunch it surely is a success.
Ray’s Blog, April 8th, 2015
This Sunday, April 12th, one of the scriptures passages will be Acts 4:32-35. It offers an idyllic and rosy portrait of the early church where “everyone is of one heart and one soul” and “everything they owned was held in common.” When we read this in bible study someone said ‘that sounds like a commune! It certainly sounds unrealistic and unlikely that any community could live like that for very long and sure enough the early church had its share of problems that continue to this day. Church is hard work and we don’t always get along—that’s just the truth. But, church is different from the rest of society or at least should be if we are the Easter People we claim to be. What we do here, who we are and how we live should seem a little strange and unrealistic if we follow the Way of Christ. We give what we can and receive what we need—that is certainly different in this fee for service world. Everyone has a say in how the church lives out God’s call regardless of how much they put in the collection plate. We serve the stranger and outcast without expectation. If we are living our faith then folks who meet us for the first time and see who and how we are should be scratching their heads—wondering why we do what we do.
This week’s scriptures include John 3:16–“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him my not perish but may have eternal life.” We used to see this at every televised football and baseball game, but thankfully that isn’t the case anymore. It may seem odd but the pivotal word in this verse in my mind is “so” and our understanding of it. We usually understand it as “God love the world so much that he gave his Son” but what if we understand the “so” to mean “God loves the world in this way”? God’s love is demonstrated, not in the giving of the Son, but through the cross, the resurrection and the ascension–the lifting up. Just something to think about.