I don’t know them.
I’ve said hi a few times. I’ve stood in the quad after church with coffee in hand, trying to politely tell my kids “just one blueberry muffin!”
I met Julie the first Sunday I visited at the church’s welcome table. Lynn, I met at a newcomer’s dinner last month. She smiled, asked me where I’m from, whether I was new in town. The third girl Nicole sat in the row behind me before worship service. I turned to notice she and her husband were flanked by two girls, one around TJ’s age. A mommy-comrade-in-arms, I noted to self.
Sure, I know their names, how many kids they have, where about town they live and how long they’ve been going to church.
But, I don’t really know them.
You see, I’m new at my church.
And in many ways, as hard it is to look for a new community of believers to do life with and worship together — it can also be very easy to be new.
It is very easy to just lay low.
To be quiet.
To be safe.
To just smile and remain unknown.
… To keep every interaction from leading to the one door you don’t want to walk through.
It’s the doorway of being known.
If you’ve been hanging out here at the (in)courage beach house for even a nanosecond, you know something big is happening in a couple days April 27 and 28. Our first (in)RL meetups — real life get togethers — are happening this weekend.
Well, I had been feeling lost as to where I should go or what I should do for (in)RL. It reminded me of playing musical chairs (those icebreakers!). I hate that feeling of being left without a seat when the music stops. You know the feeling.
Because psst… you know, I’m one of the writers here. Should I host? Or should I just join a nearby get together? I wanted to do something small and intimate, but I felt this pressure to do something big. Because you know, I really do believe in community.
I’ve been hurt and broken by community.
But, I was also put together by community. Real people who cared about my broken spirit became Jesus with skin to me. They nurtured my heart by allowing me to talk about the hard things: the questions that don’t have answers and problems that may not be solved. They didn’t try to fix me. They accepted the parts of me that I feared could never be repaired.
Through learning to trust them, I received a gift Jesus wrapped for me in others: being known.
At a Tomb
Being known — this is a gift Jesus offers us through you and me.
I’ve unwrapped this gift in the past. Will I take a step to open this gift new — today?
Will I open myself to know others — and allow them to know me too?
As I thought about Christ’s resurrection, God drew me into a scene that freed me to make a decision about how to do (in)RL.
God brought me to three women who met at a tomb.
Mary of Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome were all going to do something conventional for women at the time: preparing a body for burial. They were walking together to go and bathe Jesus in burial ointments.
Just the three of them.
Then something totally unexpected happened.
They found an empty tomb.
They found evidence of life.
And they experienced a crazy, amazing turn in their story they did not expect.
I knew God was speaking straight into my heart.
I don’t care about the numbers, Bonnie.
I have never placed importance on what you can do for me.
I place importance on you.
Rest confidently in what I am doing — new — in you.
On the surface, getting together with new friends might seem a “conventional repeat” of what we’ve done in the past, in our search for community. Maybe like me, there are stories from the tomb of broken community quietly looming in the back of your mind.
No matter, Jesus meets us confidently. He says to us what he said to Mary that morning — “Peace be with you.”
The Way He Is
So, for this weekend, I invited three new friends for my (in)RL meet up. I’ve picked out the pastries — something chocolately, lemony, and buttery. I’m going to pick up a special lavender earl gray tea for that afternoon. And I will definitely have some yummy shots of hazelnut ready for the coffee drinkers.
Yes, I have an ice breaker. No, it is not going to be musical chairs. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Above all, I’m looking for Jesus to meet us there. He is going to provide the life, the sweetness and the ease of heart.
I know He is going to show up and surprise us all.
It’s just the way He is. It’s His way. Being known.
If you’re taking the initiative to get to know others, are you feeling the pressure of expectations?
What will people expect of you — of the time that spent together?
If you’re accepting someone’s invitation, are you asking yourselves these same questions?
I think it’s totally normal to feel the way we do.
No matter how many times we’ve done this whole getting-to-know you-getting-to-know-me thing, opening ourselves is always a new faith challenge.
Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re feeling the tug.
To initiate a get together?
To accept someone’s invitation?
To visit a small group?
Or maybe a big group?
One or two — ten or fifty — it holds the same weight in Jesus’ eyes. He sees straight into us and values our faith in Him. When we take steps to move forward, our faith is what Jesus treasures precious beyond compare.
We are all walking through the doorway of being known.
He is holding your hand.
And He is holding mine.
Let’s walk through together.
Call. Email. Get together . Whatever it is.
It’s never too late. Even now.
“And when two or three of you are together because of me,
you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
~ Jesus, Matthew 18:20
What your thoughts on the doorway of being known?
What encourages you to walk through — what is it that holds you back?
Pull up a chair. Click here to share a comment. I’m all ears.
By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
(Psst… It’s not too late to register for (in)RL!
Check out the Meetups happening in your area. Register here.)
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