Last night at our church we read the Scripture in Genesis 32 which tells the story of Jacob's wrestling match with God. Jacob is changed by the all night struggle and is given a new name to mark that change. It was a well chosen story to reflect upon on this first "dinner church" meeting of our church. We lost our rented space to another tenant who would use it more and pay more for that use so we have been looking for another vacated storefront in the community but were unsuccessful. Another church in the area offered us some space in their church but since the building is small it worked out that we would meet at night. So, we met for dinner and then a worship service around the tables. We were able to have time for reflection on the passage from Scripture and celebrate Communion together.
It has been a struggle for the church to sense what God is calling us to be in that community. Thanks to another expression of the Body of Christ we have a place for this month. But, we are not done looking for a more "permanent home". We were reminded that the church really is the people as we gathered in a new place and at a new time but were still the church.
I struggled with the change, too. I have always gone to church in the morning. I pastored churches which had morning services for almost 40 years. It was like it said somewhere in God's Word that His people would gather at 10 am or 11 am with Sunday School before or after but He preferred before. I have been to evening services or special events at night but that was always Extra! So, when we left church last Sunday after our last morning service for awhile, I said to my wife, I don't think I can do this. We will have to go somewhere else next Sunday morning. I don't know if I can change. You know, something about old dogs and new tricks. My wife was silent. She knew. Saturday night she asked what we were going to do for church on Sunday. I said, let's see in the morning. She knew. When we got up we knew we did not want to go to church somewhere else. Our church was meeting at 5 pm. I knew.
We walked, read, prayed, visited our son's family who were camping nearby, took the dog and one grandson on a long walk and then sat at the playground by a beautiful lake. It was peaceful. We came home and made pancakes and then read some more. Then it was time to go to church. Traffic was light and our church meeting place was simply yet tastefully decorated for dinner. Many potlucks filled a table. We sat at tables of six to eight. We got caught up on the stuff of our lives and we laughed with each other. I was able to find out why a man who had not been to church for several weeks had not been coming. I could tell him I missed him and had been praying for him.
Then, we sang, studied the Scripture passage, prayed and celebrated communion. We prayed for a blessing on a young family who had decided it was time for them to leave our church community to seek a new place to worship. We cleaned up and it was time to go home. It had been a good day all around. God knew.