Old Habits Die Hard (So Make Them Count!)
Posted in Spiritual Growth
Scripture: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20
The basement of the church, a restaurant named after a small reptile, and a friend’s front porch: What do these things have in common? They have been host to a Small Group gathering every Friday morning for almost 50 years.
When my old friend and I sit down together on the front porch with his wife and two other friends, have coffee and share a devotional/prayer time, we are continuing a practice that began with a gathering of six men in the old Fellowship Hall at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in 1973.
We have celebrated victories, grieved over losses, and upheld each other’s life passages for no reason but that the practice of meeting together has become an integral part of our lives. The first “study” we undertook was consideration of a little book, The Meaning of Prayer by Harry Emerson Fosdick. I doubt that any one of us could give a decent book review on that book about prayer, but we have continued relentlessly to pray together. On the very few times that a Friday was missed, the absence of the gathering left something of a “void” in our week.
A Christian “small group” can come together for any reason, so long as its mission is to lift up Jesus and to uplift each other. Hardly anyone just needs another meeting. But nobody should even attempt to do without some time set aside with others who can and will listen, encourage, share burdens or joys, without expectation of reward, or judgement. Success is not measured by whether the group grows in number, but by how much each member grows in faith and spirit.
We understand from scripture that Jesus’ “small group” consisted of 12 very ordinary men called to extraordinary service. In God’s coming to humanity in the person of Jesus, his model was shown to be intimate, personal relationships, replicated many times over and over. More one-to-one contacts than stadium crowds.
The life-changing quality of such groups has become a fact of church life at Eastminster. The growth of Small Group ministry has transformed and enhanced the vitality of the congregation in so many ways since it became a proactive emphasis within the Eastminster culture.
During our toughest trials and our most euphoric triumphs, it is natural for us to seek out “one or two others.” It is cathartic and very helpful to know with whom we can be honest, unashamed and completely known. When Jesus bared his soul in Gethsemane, the prayer was simple, honest and direct: “Let this cup pass from me, but not my will be done, but Thy will be done” (Matt 26:39).
With whom do you share such questions and declarations? It will enrich your life.
Prayer: Holy God, grant us courage to seek your will and to live in it every day. Amen.
Submitted by Bobby Fuller