On Wednesday evening we had our second Summer Faith Fellowship in the home of one of our church families (the basic concept is described in some detail here prior to our first gathering). As with our first gathering, I felt that it went very well. In fact, though we “finished” at 9pm, several folks were still chatting until after 9:30!
The idea behind this Summer Faith Fellowship is to have a conversation about life and faith that begins not with Scripture or theology, but with the stuff of life. It’s a conversation about life that leads to a conversation about faith. (That’s also why we meet in homes, not at church – we meet in the place of daily life, rather than in the place that many view as set aside for religious or holy things.) Last week the session began with a conversation about gasoline prices. This week it began with a discussion about community.
Unlike the first week’s topic (gas prices), this week’s topic (community) was not newsworthy, but the conversation flowed well nonetheless. We opened with a discussion of the communities in which we were raised, and what we valued (or did not value) about those communities. It helps that here in Northern Virginia few people are actually from Northern Virginia. People spoke of communities as far flung as Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, southwestern Virginia, and yes, even Northern Virginia. Then we listened to a report from National Public Radio from 2006 about the significance of the front porch in some new housing developments, and had follow-up discussion about how community is fostered and what community is.
Then I asked the God question – where is God in this? We talked at some length about “being raised” in a community. One gentleman highlighted the word “raised,” offering that it connotes a hands-on rearing, a lifting up, even touch. Set within my question about the “community in which you were raised,” we talked about the influence of the whole community in the raising of a child. We then talked about how church is a hand-on experience, a tactile and incarnate community, where we touch both physically and spiritually, and where we form the Body of Christ. We looked at Acts 2, talked about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and being church – being the Body of Christ – both when we are gathered and when we are scattered.
(Here is the Word document with my notes: Download gathering_2_community.doc.)
As I said above, I think it went well. This week I offered a little more substance to the God question than I had last week (several Scriptural references), but I still think we need more fodder for faith conversation (something on par with the NPR reports I’ve played over the past two weeks). Though I think this Summer Faith Fellowship series will help our folks gain a comfort in talking about faith, there is a level of hesitance on the part of many to speak about faith. Asking the God Question – where is God in this? – and offering Scripture invite some good comments, questions, and conversation, but . . . but – shudder the thought – I wonder if I should get a Nooma video or some other faith-oriented media presentation to stimulate conversation (I was a bit hard on Nooma here). This, of course, gets more difficult – matching a “secular” media piece with a faith-based media piece, both reflecting on the same theme . . . But heck, nobody said that something good would come easy, eh?
We’re holding these conversations on Wednesdays through the end of July. I’ll keep sharing. Thanks!