I was listening to a radio interview with a Rabbi (Jesus was also a Rabbi, so it seemed good to listen to some other folks in his line of work), and heard something I’d known for ages but hadn’t connected with: Passover is celebrated in the home. The meal is a family event, with mother lighting the candles and the youngest child asking the questions, and this is the way they tell the, THE, massively most important story of their faith. Not in the synagogue, but at home, around the dinner table. Granted, there is a tradition of Sabbath dinners every weekend (how often do we sit down with our families -without our phones or the television as distraction- for a meal anymore?), but this central identifying story isn’t something left only to the synagogue to tell. It’s a story told at home, shared within the family. Shrinking congregations worry so much about filling the pews Sunday mornings, but what about encouraging what goes on at home? How do we strengthen families, with their busy schedules, to share holy time in their everyday time together? Surely God doesn’t wait until we’re gathered in the Sanctuary to speak to us words of forgiveness and grace.
So Sunday, this first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of the new church year, we will gather around shared dinner tables for a potluck with prayer and Story telling. Instead of 10am liturgy (take your time driving home after Thanksgiving) our liturgy will be at 4pm in the fellowship hall downstairs (and our lift runs smoothly from the outside of the building to take you downstairs). We will gather and light candles, we will notice where we have noticed God lately, we will listen for God in the Scriptures and in each other, we will pray, we will sing, we will break bread and bless and be encouraged for the coming winter. Perhaps in this practice we will even find ways to shape our home dinner conversations, with our partners and our children and our neighbors, toward remembering who we are and the love to whom we belong. It’s a great experiment we take on together. So far it’s just the one Sunday night we’ve got planned for this sort of gathering, but perhaps with a little conversation we can see what works best for future alternative gathering times and styles. Come with your hunger and your curiosity and your imagination, and let’s explore where the Spirit will lead us while She feeds us in fellowship and Eucharist.