Not long ago, our council met and continued to explore just what living into the fullness of church means for our community. As we conversed around the table, a consensus began to emerge. "Fullness of church" for us includes reaching out to others. As one member of the council put it, "It's not about us." "How then," we asked, "can we focus more on others?" One answer to that question is the food basket you now see at the foot of the altar, at the base of the table where we share our common meal. Those cans and boxes of food you bring to the altar make their way to our food pantry and the community of need that gathers there each Tuesday. In a sense we are gathering at the table with those who shop the shelves of our food pantry.
But is that enough? Does that constitute "fullness of church"? Aren't we still somewhat removed from much of the Body of Christ? That's what our council wondered as they explored other ways of engaging others. We wondered, "What would it be like for Live at Five to serve at St. Martin's when next St. Michael's takes a Sunday?" "How would a meal served and shared at St. Martin's bring us more fully into the Body of Christ?"
We worried that we might just be "doing for" and not really "serving with."
We wondered if a Sunday at St. Martin's might underscore the gap between two worlds rather that bridge that gap. Those are questions worth considering. And yet there may be a way to bridge that gap. There may be a way to stand shoulder to shoulder with people who live on the margins as together we are repairers of the breach and restores of streets to live in (Isaiah 58:12).
We can be friends in God with people quite different from ourselves. I don't think that's a very big reach for Live at Five. We already live that out in many different ways. Think of all the differences we gather at the table every Sunday!
In their book, Friendship at the Margins, Christopher L. Heuertz & Christine D. Pohl ask the question, "What difference does it make for mission, discipleship and the church when friendship with people who are poor is a central dimension of our lives?(10)" It's a question worth considering and question worth returning to again and again as we begin to move out in mission.
On August 11, Live at Five along with other members of St. Michael's will serve at St. Martin's. Perhaps we will take the opportunity to sit down with people whose life situation is quite different from our own. Maybe a seed of friendship will be planted. Maybe a desire to build a relationship across boundaries that usually divide will take hold. Maybe some of us will even choose to become repairers of the breach.
Before all that happens, you'll see some changes in worship. This summer we are going to have communion in the round. We'll gather in a circle around the altar and give one another the bread and the wine. Maybe we can even find a communion song we can sing to one another so that our musicians can join us at the table! You'll also notice that on some Sundays we will only have one person besides the priest serving at the altar. On those Sundays, our server will do double duty-acolyte and altar server. On August 11, we'll do a service of Compline since Live at Five will have been up worshipping and serving at the wee hours of the morning.
In gratitude for all of you and all the different sides of you,