We open our homes and we open our hearts.
Come in to my messy house and into my messy life. You are welcome.
We serve lots of food on big platters or right out of the slow cookers. We fill our plates and nourish one another with more than just food. We find a seat wherever one is available or make our own place right on the floor.
I know about your job, you know about mine. We often know the needs to pray for without being asked or told. We make our struggles and our humanity known. You bear my burdens, I bear yours.
We gather before dawn, music soft and lights low. We pray in the quietness of early morning, watching the sun rise together, before the world is awake. Scripture pierces the darkness between us, breaking down barriers, both challenging us and equipping us for the day ahead.
We ask each other’s children the questions that matter to them. We listen intently to the answers and watch their faces light up. We listen as they struggle through the scripture reading, watch them receive the offerings with joy and overlook the noise they sometimes make. We love them all. It takes a village, after all, and everything is worth it when we see them raise their hands to the One we all love or sing out a song of praise.
We discipline them, teach them kingdom principles, mediate arguments. We pour the Word of God into their little hearts and minds. We teach them songs to help them remember the important things. We ask them a million questions and reward them in a million ways when we see that what matters is sinking in. We love them all.
We open our Bibles and expose our ideas about what we read. We look at one another while we speak, ready to grow from the insight offered. You challenge me, I challenge you. We call each other out for making excuses or diluting what that Word actually says. His words matter most and we don’t let each other forget it.
We cook meals for one other in times of joy and grief. We plant trees of remembrance together. We cry when one hurts, delight when one has joy. We celebrate victories and raises and babies. We hold those babies as if they are our own, speaking silent prayers of blessing over them.
We meet the needs when we see one struggling. We write a check or buy the groceries or babysit the kids. We cook the dinner or make the encouraging phone call or send the scripture via text. We show up on the doorstep, ready to intercede on behalf of one another.
We pass the wine and the bread and do it all in remembrance of the One who paid it all for us. We close our eyes in repentance. We see the tears fall sometimes and we don’t judge. We understand the love of a Savior and are moved equally in varying ways. We are thankful, all of us together.
We raise our hands and sing out the praises of the One who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. We clap and move and the kids join in and we are a new body of believers, worshiping their Maker as one. We tell each other of the goodness of the Lord with gladness.
We listen intently to our elders and honor them always.
We pass out food to the hungry. We dig our hands into the earth, planting seeds in the ground and planting the seed in our community. We embrace teenage moms as if they were our little sisters, and fight over who gets to hold their babies. We give until it hurts to take care of the orphans, the homeless, the church planters and the ones reaching out to make disciples.
We have our struggles and our selfish moments and our glaring shortcomings. We have a long way to go. We are not perfect and we proclaim that loudly and without hesitation. But we are part of His body, and we understand how significant that is. We understand the honor of serving alongside one another and through it all, we love. We love past the failures and through the trials. We love old and young, meek and bold, quiet and loud. We love the only way we know how, allowing the God of love to flow through us, transforming us all the while.
We are gathering and we are Gathering.
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Dear Dad, Letter 3