We have just had the most amazing weekend. I haven't had time to miss Facebook, which is saying something, because every other day of my "fast" I have really missed it.
Friday night, a group of folks interested in starting a new Presbyterian church in Knoxville met at our house to explore possibilities. There were 11 adults and 6 children. Everyone shared a strong desire to be part of a group that could pray for each other, and wasn't afraid to be "real" with one another. They want to start doing mission rather than just talking about it. They also want a safe place to explore and question their faith, and they want to worship in new ways, because they are tired of traditional church.
This morning our group attended church with a predominantly African American congregation in the center of town. They are a congregation of about 50 members, the product of a recent merge of two churches. The service flowed beautifully; there were children making happy noises and no one gave them the "evil eye." Everyone, and I mean everyone sang the hymns with gusto. And the members were warm and welcoming, without even acting shocked that 10 white people had suddenly appeared in their midst. Afterward, the pastor gave us a tour and showed us a room that would be perfect for our worshipping community. He said once the renovations are finished it could be our space, to use for whatever purposes we might have. He also told us that several of their members would probably like to be part of what we're doing, and the pianist would be interested in participating if we would have him. Our group was so excited to hear all of this, and you could feel the Spirit as everyone looked around, imagining worship in this amazing space that was being offered to us without our even asking.
Afterward we gathered in the home of one group member and shared lunch, and made a plan for gathering together through Lent. I must admit I'm blown away by how all of this is falling into place. If ever there was a time when God was making moves, I think it is now. No one is trying to push their own agenda, instead all seem to genuinely want something greater, a real relationship with the Lord. For once, I do not feel the need to coerce people into church attendance, or into service of some kind. They are gathering because they feel drawn to Christ in this way. It is beautiful to witness.
I don't have any grand theological insights today, but wanted to share this story of something new unfolding in our town. I can't remember a time when I have felt so swept away by the Spirit into new territory. I have absolutely no idea where this is all going to end up, but amazingly I feel no anxiety. Thanks be to God!