Volume 1, Issue 3
March 2, 2009

“Fourteen people! FOURTEEN people around one table for dinner! What is going to happen?” Sal was really nervous. “Bill invited twelve other people to have dinner with us Tuesday night. And I don’t even know several of them. Is he crazy?!”

“Oh, yeah! And he says, ‘Don’t worry, Sal. Just make it real simple.’ Well, okay, Mister! Soup and sandwiches for you and your friends! That is simple and that it what you get!”

“Oh. And one more thing, but I’ll take care of this: a glass of grape juice and a flour tortilla, wrapped up in a towel, at my place,” Bill had said.

“Potato soup with lots of veggies, and bacon on the side for any vegetarians who might be here, and the pass-it-along fix-your-own sandwich fixins’. The table is set. The floor is clean. The papers and books are all put away. The bathroom is clean. Maybe I can relax now. Sure! Right! Twelve more people here in just a few minutes! Oh, good, Annie and Rick are here already. Maybe I can just visit with them and get calmed down. I’m glad they are here early.” “Bill, could you please answer the door?”

“Hi, Annie. Hi, Rick. I’m so glad you are here first. I’m really nervous. Annie, can you come with me to the kitchen while Bill and Rick visit, please.”

“Sure, Sal. What’s up? I’ve never seen you this nervous before.”

“I don’t know what to expect tonight, Annie. Bill kind of sprung this on me and I am as tight as a guitar string! He’s talking about the church meeting daily, from house to house, kind of like in the New Testament. I don’t really know what that means, but having twelve extra people for dinner, and I suppose one of them is the preacher, makes me really. . .really. . .oh, you know!”

“Yeah. I got a little bit of it from Rick, but he’s just kind of along for the ride. You should have called me and I could have come to help you out. That might have helped take some of the stress off. I wish you had! Why don’t you and I just pray about this for a few minutes and let God deal with the outcome. You look well prepared to me.”

“OK then. You pray, Annie, I’m just too nervous!”

Sure enough, praying helped Sal. She settled right down and showed herself to be the most gracious hostess. Bill visiting with everyone who came and introducing her as his “bride” helped a lot, too. They began singing when the next couple after Annie and Rick arrived, singing and sharing scriptures until the last people finally arrived. The last folks had run into traffic issues, since they had to come all the way across town after work, but it was okay: the soup would stay hot and the sandwiches were not made yet. Everyone was having such a nice time visiting and sharing with each other. No one was tense or forced in their visiting, or so it seemed. How refreshing! Even the Jewish neighbors and the black family from Bill’s work were relaxed and involved.

When everyone was in the living room and there was kind of a lull in conversations, Bill invited everyone to listen to his reading of John chapter 13, John’s record of the last meal Jesus shared with his twelve disciples. Bill seemed to emphasize, a lot, that John pointed out how Jesus was truly aware of what would happen that night and who it was who would turn him over to the Jewish leaders and other things like that. In spite of all that, Jesus really, really wanted to eat with those people and to serve them and to show his love for them, even for Judas!

Then Bill invited everyone to come to the table so we could eat together. Everyone was seated around the same table and we began passing the food around. After everyone had gotten their sandwiches made as they wanted them, Bill began serving the soup for each person there. What a pleasant experience! Everyone was having such a good time and was so relaxed. Some even began to share some of their deeper thoughts and needs and asked all of us to pray for them and for others they knew. We even stopped sometimes and prayed right then and there. That was really refreshing!

Before anyone was done with eating, Bill spoke up and asked us to stop eating for just a few minutes. He referred back to what he had read earlier from John 13 and Jesus’ love for those men he was with. He reminded us that they would all, in one way or another, leave Jesus in the lurch that same night. Bill reminded us that Jesus had a strong desire to share that meal with them ANYWAY! And, he reminded us all that we were eating together because of the love of Jesus, who gave himself so completely for each one of them and for each one of us ANYWAY! Bill said we wouldn’t even be eating together if it were not for the body and the blood of Jesus which he willingly sacrificed so that we might have our sins forgiven and so we might be equal parts of a single family – God’s family. Bill wanted us to share in recognizing what God had done and for us to make a declaration of our love for one another by eating a shared piece of bread and drinking a shared cup of grape juice. Then he took that tortilla and thanked God for it and for Jesus’ sacrifice, tore the tortilla in half and passed it around for everyone to have some. We each ate kind of quietly. Then he took that glass of juice and thanked God for it and for our fellowship in the Spirit, and passed it around for everyone to drink from it. That was kind of challenging for some of us, but we all drank some, Bill drinking last. That was really something because Bill is kind of a “germ-free” guy!

Everyone may have been stunned, because it was really quiet for a few minutes after we did this. No one got too involved in eating their own meals for awhile, then discussion really opened up and carried on for more than an hour. It focused on Jesus and his love; God and his desire for family; the church and her inwardness, her often missing the point in today’s society. There was a lot of confessing of sin regarding a failure to love certain others and even more prayer. Even the Jewish neighbor’s were involved in asking questions and talking about Messiah.

“It seemed no one wanted to leave, which was alright with me. I just loved it! And, when everyone was gone, my great husband, Bill, told me how great a job I did AND that everyone wanted to do this again, and SOON! Me, too!”

“I wonder why going to church isn’t like this? It seems like something is hindering our being able to be open and truly loving. It seems like sometimes we are just going through the motions and not really BEING what God wants us to be. Sometimes it seems like we are hamstrung with some of our actions and structures, and simply CANNOT get to where we all want to be. Is that possible? Why is meeting at home for dinner so different than ‘going to church’?”

Hamstrung – To disable by cutting the great tendon at the back of the hock; cripple; to render powerless or useless; thwart.


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