Friday, September 05, 2008

More on why eating together matters

We entertained a couple for dinner yesterday and had a lovely time.

In many ways they exemplify one or two of the issues we wrestle with as a church. In a previous generation, they would probably be at the heart of the institutional life of the church, serving on the diaconate, heavily involved in fellowship and outreach meetings.

As it is, they struggle to get to home group and wonder what the point is of many of the things that church does.

This morning, as I was reflecting on our time together, I began to ask myself whether we stress too much the gathering of believers in large numbers for what we all know of as 'church' - singing, listening, praying, reading scripture, hearing sermons, sharing coffee afterwards.

Then I read 1 Samuel 12:23-24 where the aging prophet tells Israel what he's done - prayed for them and declared God's word - and reminds them what they must do - fear the Lord, serve him faithfully and remember all he's done for them.

Now, you could argue that that is as good a description of church as you'd ever find and yet it seems to me to be a minimalist understanding of it. Do we fret too much over programmes, getting everyone together, ensuring we're all on the same page, moving ahead at the same pace? Does this mean we sacrifice real learning of the faith, living out its implications and sharing one another's lives as we do it?

I'm not sure I have any answers... But yet again, interesting things were happening as we gathered to share food around a table and enjoy one another's company. I feel a theme coming on!

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