You sent out the emails with the place and the time. You stopped at the grocery store for a round of sourdough bread and a bottle of the finest grape juice. You took the baby to the frozen food store while the tinies were at school, and you picked up appys and lemon squares (between a home cooked meal and your own sanity, you’ll choose your sanity, every time). The night came and you bathed all the tinies and put them in their beds early. You realized the washroom needed a quick wipe-down seconds before everyone arrived and madly ran around with the Windex, threw all the coats that usually hang on the banister into the closet. You made a pot of tea.
The doors are unlocked, everyone can just walk right in. They know that.
You covered your beat-up old coffee table with tablecloths from the thrift store. You arranged candles, centred the iron cross from your mantle, laid down your Bible and your Common Prayer. You placed the bread and the wine and – just like that – you turned your coffee table into an altar, your home into a sacred space for the gathering.
And that is how church begins on a rainy Thursday night in a small city in the west.
You love the way the men make each other laugh, the way their faces crinkle at the eyes. You love the way the women congregate in the kitchen so easily, standing around talking about their babies.
The night unfolded with logistics and scheduling, then justice to frustrations, prayer to silence, stories of our lives now and from our past.
It’s dark outside, pouring rain. Your babies are sleeping in their beds under the quilts their Grandma made for them, miraculously snoring through the loud laughter. The candles on your homemade altar drip drip drip as the night unfolds, and this is your church, these are your people, they look you in the eye. You know their stories, they know yours, but there is still so much to discover. Hope is still present. You’re not quite a family yet, but you’re getting there, one gathering after another.
And then you pray over their bowed heads, each one so precious to you, and invite them to the table.So come to this table, you have much faith and you who would like to have more; you who have been here often and you have not been here for a long time; you who have tried to follow Jesus, and you who have failed; come. it is Christ who invites us to meet him here.
You tear off the bread and hand it to your beautiful friend: this is his body, broken for you. She turns and hands it to the man beside her, blesses him with that same benediction. Then you pass the cup – this is His blood, spilled for you – and you all partake together, one after another, hand to hand. You aren’t standing in a line, you’re beside each other and it’s hard not to grin sometimes. You read Scripture out of your old friend, Isaiah’s book, and right now here you are looking at the way that the desert has bloomed. This is your river running to Zion, and it’s right in your own living room.
Good night, good night. I’m so glad I was here, I’m so glad you could come, this was just what I needed. I love you, love you, too. See you next week.
This is another way that you have fallen back in love with the Bride of Christ: you opened your doors and welcomed her in to your life.
Liturgy taken from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals