June 2013

Arguably it was the best purchase we ever made. Every time it is used it immediately produces a tangible difference to our lives - echoes of past peace resonated all around, comfort calls, draws and enfolds. It is like a mini-miracle. True, potential tensions tease at the start, but once settled, blessings flow.

What is this mystical object? An in-car dual screen DVD player. Don’t dismiss this too quickly – this is a seriously amazing gadget. At the start of a long car journey, plug the kids in and silence falls. It is like those magical moments when kids fall fast asleep in the car and parents are freed from accurately determining arrival times and needing to spy things with their little eye! Plug in - bliss. The initial potential tension I referenced relates to the kids agreeing which specific DVD to watch, however once decided; dual screens, separate head-phones and volume switches eclipse all other familiar journey whinges. Parents – worth every penny!

Lately however, there has been a challenger to this coveted “best purchase” position in my life. This contender has silently been waiting in the wings, not demanding “you’ll pay dearly if you forget me!” – but more subtly “remember me?” This object shares the ability to create a tangible difference – with echoes of past peace, comforts, callings, drawings - mini-miracles. Again, potential tensions tease at the start, but once settled, blessings flow.

This object is our fire-pit (it is like a giant wok) that sits in our back garden, where we can burn things: watch, wait and find warmth. The power is not immediate silence as with the DVD player, rather the complete opposite – conversation. On many occasions our small group, friends and family have sat around the fire-pit burning things and chatting. As hours pass and embers glow relationships deepen, dreams are shared, life is lived.

The tension that teases at the start – is getting started. Not lighting the fire, but inviting friends over for a burn in the first place.

The truth is we all long for deeper friendships, but all too often we never actually invite people to come and sit around the fire. Perhaps it is because our lives are too busy, or we think other people’s lives are too busy and we say “no” on their behalf and never invite them. Perhaps we are busy waiting for someone to invite us, for someone else to do something – and so we switch on the telly and wait, hoping tomorrow will be different, that tomorrow will hold the blessing. [For those thinking “I don’t own a fire-pit” – the fire-pit is not where the power rests, but in the meeting, greeting, eating…]

In Matthew 18:20 Jesus says “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Personally, I don’t reckon Jesus was sharing a handy verse to be used whenever a poorly attended church event is encountered – rather a powerful truth to be encountered whenever Jesus followers gather together around a fire-pit, a meal, a board game, a dessert-a-thon, a walk, chatting, sharing…

Here’s the challenge.

Don’t wait to be invited, invite. Don’t intend to meet up, meet up. Don’t say “if I have time”, give time. Don’t wait for the “perfect” friend, make friends. Don’t just invite old friends, invite new friends.

Who can you invite? [Top tip: if they make good desserts allow that to be an extra incentive!].
 
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