On Saturdays Lisa asks me who is coming to church so she can be prepared to feed people. It’s a difficult question because we never know who is going to show up. We have our regulars, we have a few different groups of boys who I go get for church, we have our young adult men who pop in to see us, we have our families who try to make it; but on any given Sunday we could have a group of five or twenty-five.
Five to ten people is cozy… a small group, relatively easy to feed. Ten to fifteen is challenging, but lots of fun. When there are more than fifteen it’s a whole different animal. It’s like when the dwarves came to see Bilbo Baggins! Everyone enjoys the fellowship and community, but Lisa and I are generally running around making sure everyone is comfortable and taken care of. On any given Sunday anyone can show up… but on any given Sunday if you come to church you will hear and experience the community of Christ, through preaching, fellowship with other Christians, and food for the body as well as the Spirit.
So last Saturday Lisa asks me who is coming to church. We had both had an exhausting day. We had a pipe burst and woke up to a basement flooded with water and spent the day cleaning it up. Our house guest Jordan and Lisa did most of it because Lisa insisted I go get the boys for our scheduled basketball games instead of forfeiting. That evening I was feeling too tired to pick anyone up in the morning so it’ll just be the regulars, so I tell her it’ll be a small group. Lisa says ok, I’ll make such and such and so and so. Then later in the evening, I think of some boys I hadn’t seen for a while and right before bedtime I tell Lisa it’ll be double the number. She says, “oh my!” (Lisa talks like that), “well then I can just do this and that, it’ll be alright.” And then in the morning, one of our young men calls me to let me know he’s coming to church, which is all good. And then he says, “I’m bringing the other guys…” Uh oh. I tell Lisa and she laughs and says… Well, I’ve got this and I’ve got that and we’ll make it work.
So we had a basement full of people on Sunday. It was hectic, but it was fun. It was family. I can’t express how much I appreciated Lisa and her gifts of hospitality and service that day, as well as her ability to go with the flow. In our ministry Lisa uses her gifts for teaching, counseling, and administration in significant ways. And she conducts her spiritual direction ministry in addition. But when we have a houseful of urban youth and young adults… she shines. Her gift is such that every single person feels attended, loved, cared for and their hunger sated. Physically and emotionally as well as spiritually.
You must understand that when people come to church at our house they are hungry. They are literally hungry, physically. Our young people are coming from homes where mother rarely cooks. Breakfast is a little Debbie snack from the corner store. When I get kids for basketball or other activities, they are always hungry. Not hungry for a snack, they literally haven’t had a meal that day. Many of them are in single parent homes where mom is working all day. On a day when there is no school, meals are scarce. Lisa’s meals are probably a bigger inducement for kids and families to come to church than my preaching. People come to church because they are hungry for fellowship, a place where they can relax, be themselves and have the familiarity and security of family and community. The boys often tell me that the only time they experience a family meal at the table is at our house. People come to church because they are hungry for the Lord. They want God in their lives. They want to be encouraged, prayed for, even admonished… but they want to know God. By God’s great grace it happens at our house every Sunday.
“Sweet Holy Spirit… grand heavenly dove! Stay right here with us, filling us with your love. And for these blessings, we lift our hearts in prayer. Without a doubt we’ll know, that we have been revived, when we shall leave this place.”