All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had; And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. – The Book of Acts
The sound of small feet pat-patting up our drive, often marks the beginning of a Sunday morning gathering. Young children, parents, singles, multi-nationals, grandparents – there is a wide spread that comes together on a Sunday morning.
Last week, we congregated in the kitchen, standing or sitting while catching up one with another. Stories were shared. On the kitchen table a loaf and a glass of wine; we take the command to share communion seriously, but it is done perhaps, a little differently. Several of us might read a passage that we have been reading during the week, or share what the Lord is doing in our lives or the lives of others. In this instance, one or two of our group needed some real prayer, and so we laid hands on them, praying as we went. Throughout all this, the loaf was broken and distributed, and a single cup was shared.
The Communion of Christ in Community.
In amongst all this, the children wandered in and out to check up on the grown-ups, scavenge for food, or just see what we’re up to. There was no “shhhshing” and they could stay and listen or wander back to their toys.
An old Chorus book was pulled out, and led by the Spirit we sang a chorus (or two) that seemed meaningful to what we were talking about or praying about at the time. As we sit around our table, we serve coffee and various food that each had brought along, all the while talking and sharing. Each week there is a period of accountability, who did we share with this week, who did we meet where we had an opportunity to share the Gospel with? Those who are meeting with others throughout the week, shared of how things were progressing, and the conversations that were coming up with new or non-believers. We pray in turn for those we are ministering to outside.
Next is a Discovery Bible Study; we’re currently in the Gospel of Luke and each week we read a small passage. Everyone is encouraged to discuss and share their thoughts with those who normally say too much (I’m one of those) careful to say less, and others who are less comfortable in public encouraged to speak up. The Lord through his Spirit may share something valuable to the quietest among us, and it is crucial that we listen. The discussion this week was robust, and in spite of some mild disagreements, there were no put downs or arguments about doctrine. The passage raised the issue of healing, always a thorny one, but we see our DBS not only as a teaching time, but also a time to learn obedience. The singular most important question we ask is, “what do I need to obey from this passage?” which in turns moves us away from the need to be right.
Our collective takeout, was that the Holy Spirit wants to heal those we meet, but we must also be more prepared for it than we were; out of it has come a commitment among us to spend more time in prayer and fasting on a regular basis, and a group commitment to spend time prayer-walking in each other’s neighbourhood during the week. Most of us already meet throughout the week with others within our gathering anyway.
Lunch is often then served, again from whatever anyone has brought to share, and then a group of us will go out on the streets in the afternoon to share our faith, or to minister to those we are already sharing with. Many of us are meeting in other smaller groups with non-believers throughout the week as well, seeking to reproduce what we have as a gathering, in other’s lives. So, with the Lord’s grace, new gatherings are born, each with an outward focus and commitment to reach others for Christ, as well as have Communion in community.
And the Lord keeps adding to the number – let me leave you with this from a week or so back.
A new couple turned up, as people sometimes do, to investigate our simple church. It doesn’t take visitors long to work out what is going on, but on this day, the couple had to leave early. They drove into town, where the car broke down, and so they sat by the roadside waiting for assistance. While waiting, they decided to talk to passers-by about Jesus, until eventually a lady came out from a house and offered them a cup of tea. She asked what they were doing there; in the course of conversation, our names came up and it turned out we along with others, had already been praying for her to come to know Christ. The visitors shared with this lady their morning with us, which further intrigued her, and so some of us will meet with her again to discuss the things of Jesus some more. The lady is genuinely interested in exploring more about the person of Jesus Christ.
What we have is precious, a gift from God. Let us encourage others who are looking for the same, persevere. God will add the resource as we start doing the work.