As I sat in the small living room last night, an hour away from home and comfort, after a long day of activities, I was alert, awake, and content.
Jorge was preaching an articulate message on Jesus’ words in Luke 5:31-32: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (NASB).
We all are sick, he tells us, and needing the doctor’s attentions. None is righteous of himself, but our cure is found in changing mind and life. And the doctor’s mission is seen in the place where he speaks: Levi’s house. A banquet. Bad sinners and worse sinners gather around the table with Jesus, where he is anxious to offer his remedy.
The congregation paid close attention to the 30-minute sermon, as the wind died down outside and the room temperature rose from the twelve warm bodies occupying its space.
We had sung together, eaten the Supper together, made an offering together, prayed together. We sensed our togetherness resulted from God’s presence in our midst.
After Jorge’s message, a final moment of exhortation opens, when any Christian man is free to speak a word of encouragement. Sr. Benedito, 72, pipes up and, in words more eloquent than I have ever heard from this retired manual laborer, urges us to consider that the time is now to act and that we cannot rest or resign ourselves to passivity.
At the end, our concerns surfaced as we shared our prayer requests: Fatima’s mother and sister; our son’s appendectomy; potential problems for the church in India, to whom an offering is being sent for disaster aid.
Afterwards, refreshments from Fatima’s kitchen. Tonight, a cake and soft drinks. (It never hurts that the hostess is a caterer.) Served with laughter, light banter, insistences to eat more, stay longer.
We left this new house church certain that we had shared in true worship, with people reconciled together under the Cross, as the family of God.
This is what it’s all about. Though small, a place for everyone.