I was reading this week about two weddings. One was a couple thousand years ago in the hills around Cana. The other up in the mountains around Winter Park, CO. As the author described the one in Colorado, I couldn’t help but wonder about the similarities between the two. Here’s what the author (a pastor in CO) had to say about the present day wedding:
“The wedding we went to was held on Sunday, so about 40 of our congregation missed the normal church gathering back down in Denver. Most of us got up there on Friday and had a day and a half to connect and meet people who had flown in from all over the country. Some of them shared our faith in Jesus, but most didn’t. And it didn’t matter. I supposed most folks tend to stick to their own cliques, but not our community. We all ate together, played together, shared stories, and mingled naturally with such robust love that surface conversations moved to depths you wouldn’t think possible. As the hours and depth of celebration continued, you could feel a palpable friendship grow in everyone. Something mystical but tangible was occurring. People were experiencing the Kingdom of God.
Our time there was filled with incredible food, fabulous wine, and bagpipes playing as we looked out over the winter wonderland. There were early morning coffee conversations and profound prayers and deep words of admiration and encouragement shared at the wedding rehearsal. We had late-evening nightcaps that deepened these new friendships. Broken families experienced healing, cars slid off icy roads, and acquaintances took care of one another. There was more great wine, dancing to live music, and on and on. If I could have frozen the moment in time, I would have. And that’s the point. When you catch a waft of a real Jesus community, you want more.” (Hugh Halter, Flesh)
I can’t help but think that the wedding a few thousand years ago had the same vibe to it. I guess I think that mostly because Jesus was there. And wherever Jesus goes, this sort of celebration and depth of relationship just happened.
I guess this is the point: my hope and prayer is that people continually have this same experience over and over whenever folks from Restoration are involved in a gathering. That wherever we go, we take this same spirit of “real Jesus community” with us. What that takes is being fully present in each situation. It takes being more concerned about knowing and loving people than about our own agendas. It takes asking good questions and then really listening to the answer. And it takes being fully present with the people around us.
What I love about our church is that we do so much of this well. I’ve had plenty of these moments where I wanted it to just go on and on, because I could see this natural mingling with robust love. It’s real Jesus community, and our mission is to bring more and more of it with us wherever we go!