Chad and I love having people over. Even in our small one bedroom apartment, we used to invite a bunch of people over for Christmas parties and barbeques and other events, cramming people in to our small space. When we bought our house, our greatest vision for it was how we would be able to invite others in, to let God use our house as a meeting place or sanctuary. We said right from the beginning that it wasn’t our house but God’s. We also love good food and wine and making things extra special. We like making things from scratch, food and décor– Chad is getting to be an amazing bread baker and I love decorating to make the space as beautiful as possible.
This past Friday night, Chad and I were able to have some of our closest friends over for a garden party. It turned out beautifully. We worked all day on cooking, baking, cleaning, decorating. I took the day off just to make sure everything was perfect. We made a schedule of all the tasks for the day because we’re both a little crazy and like to be super organized. We also go a little over the top and would be super stressed if we didn’t make lists and schedules and sketches.
And in the glow of the candlelight, with seven of our closest friends around us at our long dining room table (moved outside for the evening), it was all worth it and it was all beautiful.
We haven’t been going to church for the past several months. Actually, we’re closing in on more like a year without attending Sunday services. Because it’s been too hard. And because we’re still trying to figure out what we believe about church and community. But this, this evening with our friends, sitting at the table together, passing food and wine and laughing and sharing and investing in each other, this was church for us. And we needed it. And we got a lot of compliments that evening from our friends, and then others over the weekend who saw Facebook pictures, and that’s nice. I love that our friends enjoyed themselves and appreciated our efforts. We heard a lot of “you have the gift of hospitality,” which I guess is true. But honestly, the compliments are nothing compared to the fact that our friends showed up, because it’s their company that we love and want more than any compliment they could give.
In the warmth of a campfire on the patio, we talked about fears and the future and kids and being misunderstood and being supported. And for a few hours, we were able to let go of life’s stress, let down our guards, take a deep breath and just be with each other. And I don’t know if Chad and I will find– or create for ourselves– this kind of dinner-church, where we routinely honor God by sharing meals instead of sharing pews, but it feels a lot closer to worship and community than anything else we’ve experienced in the last several months. It feels like friendship and grace and mercy and church. It feels sacred and comfortable at the same time. It feels like love.