Fall means many things to different people! The air is crisper and the days shorter. Football kicks into high gear and kids go back to school. While I am definitely a warm (even hot) weather lover, fall is my favorite time of the year. One of the reasons is it means more togetherness, times of connection and communion with friends and family. As a child, the two most important ways this togetherness manifested itself in my life was first going back to school and being able to hang out with my friends all day long. It meant in my elementary school years the freedom of walking to and from school with my sisters and the kids on the street…a group that grew larger as we picked up more kids along the way! The other way it spoke to me was my family returned to our nightly suppers at the dinner table with everyone sharing the events of their day with each other. A time when conversations were not about learning something or conveying information but a time that brought me closer to those I loved…a communion I still cherish!
Eugene Peterson’s lecture “Novels, Pastors & Poets” speaks of the importance of words. He speaks of them as precious gifts to be reverenced for, when used rightly, they have the ability to bring life. He contends, and I agree, that Jesus’ story is being retold, reworked and reexperienced in the hearts and minds of each of us. And as Christians in community with others we should be looking for how the ordinary (and the extraordinary) aspects of our lives bear testimony to God’s workings. By recognizing and putting a name to God’s workings in our own lives and the lives of those we are in community with, our communion becomes the movement of God in a tangible and relational manner.
Often times, church functions are organized around projects or curriculum but how to cultivate a real sense of spiritual family can seem more challenging. Yet Restoration is seeking to do just that through having different groups of people come together as family–in our 9 to Dine dinner groups. I personally am pleased this form of gathering is being offered again not just because of my sheer enjoyment of connecting with others but because these shared meals have the ability to open us up to God’s movement in our lives. And this is exactly what Jed modeled for us several weeks back when he “kicked it up a notch” as Emeril Lagasse would say (for the cooks in our group) by introducing questions that take the conversation to a heart level.
This semester Jed is encouraging us (and challenging us) to move beyond the more superficial water cooler talk to embrace questions that draw us closer to each other and to God. In essence, he is asking us to reverence our words thereby bringing life into the conversations where our faith can be strengthened and our relationships more meaningful as we open ourselves up to the broadening and transformational work of God.
If you haven’t done so already, it is definitely not too late to jump into a 9toDine group by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Come along with us on this journey of family connections and togetherness!