Monday, July 7, 2014

The Blessing Of Sharing A Meal Together (Dinner For Eight)

And every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:46-47)
We had been parents for all of nine months. It was a tough nine months, but we had lots of help facing the challenges of parenthood. My mom and Denise's were close enough to lend support, but there were others, too.  I worked in a business whose office staff were all grandmothers. They shared their experience with colicky babies, late night issues, and everything else. But, there was also a very special group of people who helped us.
We were committed members of a local church. We had invested the previous two years in building relationships with the people in our younger adult Sunday School class so that we had real friends who shared our Christian values. It didn't happen overnight. When we first arrived at that church, I felt like an outsider. Denise didn't. She fit in almost immediately, but I had to work at it. I started serving people. We started having dinner with people, sharing meals and time together. And, it worked.  I had more friends at that point in my life than I ever had, and almost all of them were sharing the Christian's walk of discipleship with me.
So, when God called us into ministry and we had to leave that church, it was gut-wrenching. We were not prepared for what lay ahead emotionally. We moved 90 miles to a smaller church where I would become the pastor. Everyone knew me, but I knew almost no one. Sunday night visits to the burrito place with friends disappeared overnight. Meals with friends, gone. The people in the church we were called to didn't even go to Dairy Queen after church for ice cream. Denise and I will probably never forget driving around after church on Sunday nights with tears in our eyes, feeling so alone.
Fellowship, the practice of building Christian relationships, is not an afterthought. Sharing a meal together has been part of God's plan from the covenant meals of the Old Testament, to the breaking of bread in the New Testament, to church-wide fellowship meals. God uses these meals and this time to strengthen the local church.
That's why we are doing "Dinner For Eight" at Calvary. There is a friend, a family, out there who God will use to transform your walk with Him, and all that is needed is a table, a meal, and a some time spent building a Christian friendship.  And, just in case you have forgotten, it's not just about you. There is someone out there who is driving around with an ache in their hearts, hoping and praying for a friend to help them walk this lonely road.