Silent night, holy night. Christmas night alone. As a single person with no immediate family I reconciled myself to spending this past Christmas night at home, cozy and warm, ready to enjoy a good movie. But the sudden and loud ringing of my phone startled me to attention. It was my dear friend Merilee, from church. “What are you doing?”, she asked and then continued, “Do you want to come over for dinner…tonight?”
I paused and quickly thought to myself, ‘Oh how nice of her, but I shouldn’t impose on such a personal time!’ My unspoken thoughts were interrupted by a “loud” internal thought that said, ‘You say yes right now!’ I realized that Merilee’s kind invitation was also God’s gift to me, to experience something He knew I would especially enjoy: fellowship, community, and conversation over a shared meal. I swiftly replied “Yes thank you! I would love to, and I’ll be right over!”
When I arrived, her dining room table was beautifully set for four people. I introduced myself to her father and brother and realized we had all attended the same church thirty years ago and still had some friends in common! We shared a delicious dinner with vibrant and important conversation. We caught up on past events regarding friends living and those passed on. We shared our faith and talked about what God was teaching us now. I shared some of the lessons I had recently learned. Merilee’s Dad gave me scripture that supported these lessons. The metaphor of physical and spiritual food was strongly demonstrated to me around that table.
When dinner was over and the dishes were cleared, Merilee’s father asked for her Bible. He then handed it to me and asked me to read Matthew 6 aloud to them! I blinked in response and looked at their three faces, smiling with encouragement and anticipation. I swallowed and started in. The Bible was ‘The Message’ version and the words and their meanings jumped off the page to me, more vividly than I usually experience by myself. I thought of Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
We paused and discussed passages. I was reminded that God’s word is alive! The experience made me realize that my true priority is embracing the privilege of hearing God’s Voice in scripture. And to recognize the importance of how we actively help each other hear God’s word, yes by the words we speak to each other, but also by the actions of our lives lived in community.
I remembered an analogy I heard during a sermon years ago. Our pastor encouraged us to focus on hearing God’s voice with the attentiveness of a waiter watching for and anticipating the needs of the diners in his or her care.
I was energized by the immediacy of The Message’s version of the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6: “Our Father in Heaven, reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best – as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.”
Gathering together and sharing scripture that night strengthened my ability to experience and enjoy His presence that day and onward. Thank you Lord for one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received!
About the Author
Sara has attended CitySalt Church since 2004, the year it was founded. She studied Journalism, wrote for her college newspaper, and is a member of Oregon Christian Writers. Sara also enjoys singing hymns with friends: “there is a sermon in every hymn waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.”