Monday, July 30, 2007
I continue to be blown away by what has been happening this summer. Usually, summer church attendance is the lowest due to vacations, etc. For Agape, it has continued to be strong. We run anywhere from 38-45 consistently even when we have 10 regulars gone. The number of people who have visited Agape at least once after Easter has grown to 100+. God is truly good. I am looking forward to the fall when our college students return.
Sunday was a comfort zone issue for me. One of our interns, James Wood, suggested that when we reach John 6 (we are preaching through John) we do something with real bread. We talked about a type of meal, like in the early church when they met in a home. I had also read one of John Dominic Crossan's books about eating in the kingdom of God. The photo above illustrates his point that one of the dominant images of Christianity, before Constantine, was the meal. The cross was post-Constantine. In the sarcophagus above (from the 3rd Century) the meal with bread was a common scene for Christians.
So I followed the plan. We had tables set up with bread, grapes, water, and grape juice. We ate (actually snacked), sang, had 3 short lessons with table discussion out of John 6, had communion (traditional), gave, prayed, and ended. The kids were engaged and joined in the table discussions. All my past teaching about eating leavened bread during worship, a common meal, and removing the image of the cross caused me to be a little uneasy. Theologically, the worship was correct. But personally, it was a little different. However, I am a convert to Christianity so I have always accepted that my comfort zones only get in the way of God's Word.
However, it was beautiful. The table discussions were great and it seemed that 95% of the 46 people there engaged in the conversations. One of the homeless guys stayed and contributed. I think we all realized that the image of the meal has been lost in our culture and that returning to the church of the 1st Century is more than 5 acts of worship. It also involves the home/house church culture of the early Christians, before Constantine legalized Christianity. It is also good to know that our interns bring fresh ideas to our application of the Gospels. Good job James.
It also came to me that 1 year ago I preached my last sermon at Metro. 1 year ago Lori and I officially stepped out on faith to reach a new generation. It seems that this is happening but we're still new. However, if the last few weeks are any indication of what will happen, with God's help, it will be a great experience. God is good!