Sunday, August 19, 2007

House Church

It did not quit raining before 10 a.m. and a group of us met and huddled under the huge cedar tree on our land and figured out Plan B, which ended up being a shortened service at a nearby congregant's home. We sang our songs, read a poem and a reading, did the "accessories" to the services, and I gave them a few paragraphs from the sermon. Then we broke up into dyads and talked about times we'd felt really valued for who we are.

I preceded my words with a story my dad told one day long ago when the attendance at church was sparse because of weather.

One Sunday morning there was a terrific snowstorm and the only folks to make it to church that morning were the preacher and an old farmer. The preacher got warmed up, they sang a couple of hymns, the preacher spoke for about forty minutes, they prayed, and then there was the benediction. As the old farmer was shaking hands with the preacher at the door, he said to him, "well, parson, that was a fine sermon, well spoken, full of gospel truth, and lots of good points, but you know, if I went out to feed my flock and only one sheep showed up, well sir, I sure wouldn't feed him the whole bale of hay!"

So they didn't get the whole bale of hay. I will save it for later in the year, as I feel it's an important enough topic to offer it to a larger group. We had 21 people there, but that's a skimpy crowd for us.

I do like House Church, though, with people scattered around the cozy room, little children playing on the floor, and warmth and tenderness abounding. Wish you'd been there too!


Shelby Meyerhoff said...

It's wonderful that you were able to adjust the worship to better suit the needs of a smaller group. I sometimes find it strange to be in a small group and be given a talk with mannerisms and structure that were clearly designed for a much, much larger group.

As a reader, a different metaphor comes to mind, one of meals. This group got the whole meal--a full helping of spiritual nourishment--but maybe with different dishes than you would have served to a large congregation. Not less rich or less whole, just different.

And to use another framework...I was with a preacher recently as a he prepared to give a service at a UU congregation. At first it didn't look like many people would show up. A worried congregant approached him and said, "I hope some more people will show up." The preacher laughed and said, "I preach for the people who are here, not for the people who aren't."

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Shelby, for a nice interpretation. It was a good day, even a great one!

LinguistFriend said...

The use of the term "house church"
is charming with its double reference to the institution of early Christian informal churches as well as to whatever home you are meeting in. To me it appears that it is a deep strength of yours that you are able to draw on much of the positive material from your background in a minister's family, while leaving behind what you could not accept rather than agonizing over it. No doubt that is the end result of a long process, traces of which are still reflected in your relations with your sister and Joel, as you describe them.