A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: An Adventure in Fellowship
When I think about what I missed the most during the quarantine phases of the pandemic, two things leap to
mind more than any others.
First, of course, was gathering together in person for worship each Sunday. While I am filled with gratitude for the gift of digital media that allowed us to worship together as a community online (and continues to do so), it was a real challenge to preach each week to a camera lens in an empty room twice every Sunday, imagining your faces on the other side somewhere.
The second thing, though, was eating out with people. There are few things that I enjoy more than exploring a new restaurant, or returning to an old favorite, and sharing in good food and good conversation with others as we do so. But for well over a year, eating in restaurants was perhaps even more risky than gathering in worship, and losing both of those crucial experiences of community at the same time was very hard.
I still remember the overwhelming feeling of joy just a little over a year ago when we gathered together in person as well as online for the first time in fifteen months, and I have not taken it for granted a single Sunday since then. What I have realized recently, though, is that I still only rarely gather with others in a restaurant; not because I don’t want to, but simply because I’ve fallen out of the habit or practice.
But gathering together over a meal isn’t just enjoyable, it’s actually one of the central practices of the Christian faith. Jesus himself did a considerable amount of his ministry at the table. The central practice he instituted for his Church to be in communion with him and each other is, in fact, a meal around a table: The Lord’s Supper.
Sharing a meal together is one of the best ways to practice koinonia, the Greek word for “fellowship” or authentic mutual sharing of life and faith between Christians. As many of you know, this congregation has a long and rich history of emphasizing koinonia, particularly through the long and faithful ministry of Keith Brown as pastor here.
So, in the spirit of our identity as “an Experimental Church,” I thought I would try an experiment in koinonia for at least the next few months. Once a month or so, starting in July, I’m going to invite up to five people to
join me for a meal somewhere with no agenda other than to simply share in good food and conversation
around the table in the spirit of koinonia.
The first opportunity will be breakfast next week: Wednesday, July 6, at 8 am. If you are interested in joining me, simply email me and let me know.
The first five people who do so will be invited to join me (and I’ll suggest a restaurant then), and then those who write after that will be invited to future gatherings (the next one will probably be in early August). And, if there’s enough interest, we’ll simply do it more often than once a month. I hope to hear from you, and look forward to the time with you!
Grace and Peace,