First "Setkani" of the New Year
For those of you who don’t know Bryan and I have become involved with a new church here in Prague. Over the course of the last year they have been having meetings at someone’s house once a month and then doing service projects once a month together as well to begin to build a community. But, this year we will start meeting regularly every Sunday – one group will meet at Craig and Sarah Springer’s house for a gathering in English and another group will meet at Saša Flek’s for a gathering in Czech and then once a month we will all meet together at this art gallery/pub. So, tonight was the first combined gathering at the Nova Síň (the gallery/pub). I want to write about and document the evening but I’ve been having trouble figuring out how to write about it… should I just share what happened, what it looked like? Should I write about what I felt during it? Should I write about what Saša and Marek talked about? Or about what their talk got me thinking about? I’m not really sure… I guess I’ll just start writing…
Bryan and I arrived early tonight to help out and so that Bryan and two other gals could practice to lead worship – Bryan had agreed to play the bongos, which was fun. It was weird because when we first got there with only a few people there the place felt like sort of a hole-in-the-wall kind of place but as people started to arrive and fill the space it seemed to just come alive with character and energy. The place was set up with a large entry way and then off of the entry way there were two rooms one was filled with modern art sculptures (that room stayed closed most of the evening) and the other room was a small pub with a bar and a few tables. Off of the pub there was another long room that had a number of tables in it and at the end of the room there was a piano and a little sound system. As people started to arrive they filled the pub and soon the small room off the pub as well. Little pockets of people formed – some speaking English, some speaking Czech. If you stood back and stopped focusing on one particular conversation you could hear the two very different languages as if they were blending in musical harmony. There were kids running around as well - some shy and sticking closer to their parents, others excited by the people and running freely between the legs of older adults. The children may have been one of my favorite parts of tonight – no doubt they made the night messier – the teaching as well as the socializing afterwards was sometimes interrupted by children talking or laughing or even babies fussing or talking in their own little language. But, there is something about having kids around that I think has a tendency to keep everyone humble and to remind us that life with God is not always simple and clean sometimes it’s messy and uncertain – and that life with God is not always about knowing, sometimes it’s simply about being. One thing God has been bringing up with me a lot is the idea of delighting, and enjoying and playing. I think that is something I’m not so good at…playing with God…delighting in Him…just enjoying Him instead of trying to figure him out. Kids are a good reminder to me to relax and play and God used the kids tonight to remind me of that again. I think another thing that tonight got me thinking about more (well, it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and a little about for maybe even a few years now) is the idea that God can and does speak to us WHERE WE ARE and in ways that uniquely fit who we are and what we are doing. Saša talked tonight about the wise men coming to see Jesus. He touched on a lot of interesting points but the one thing that stuck out to me and got me thinking was when he was talking about how the wise men were astrologers who studied the stars so God spoke to them and called them to Himself through the stars, through what they knew. One thing I have been thinking about lately has been how I relate to God and how I allow God to relate to me… I’ve been thinking about what it looks like to have a relationship with God in all four of the relational spaces (public, social, personal, and intimate) as I shared in a previous post. And I’ve also been thinking about letting myself relate to God and God relate to me in different ways, ways that fit me and my interests and needs and lifestyle – I think sometimes I have been taught or have felt like the only way God can relate to me and speak to me is through the Bible and prayer but it is interesting and freeing to think that God is God of everything and He can speak to me through anything and in any way that He sees fit in order to get my attention. This morning I really felt God calling me to worship and speaking love to me while I was doing yoga – it was sort of a weird experience actually and as I felt God’s presence I responded by changing my routine a little and doing more backbends as a way to physically exhibit the opening of my life and heart to God - asking Christ Jesus to come and be involved in my life. It seems like a odd way to experience and relate to God and there may be those who would discredit it but for me it was a very powerful experience of connecting with God. Tonight God reminded me that he can speak through anything and anyone and tonight He called to me through the kids who were present, especially Marek and Elaine’s little girl, Julia, and the joy and delight in life that emanated forth from her. I’m curious how God spoke to others tonight. Was there something that Saša or Marek said that stuck with them on their way home, that challenged them or encouraged them, or drew them to worship like the wise men at Christ’s feet? I’m excited for this new year. I’m excited to get to know the people in this community better this year – to hear where their journey with Christ has taken them and to experience that journey along side of them as a fellow companion with Christ.
Lord, come among us. Lord, may our eyes be open to see you, our ears be attentive to hear you, and our hearts be soft to receive you this year. Lord, may we not just look for you in the normal places this year but may we be open to experience you in all things and all places and through all people. Widen our horizons this year. Lord, may we be a people who are open to you, a people who do not put you or your Spirit in a box, but who allow you to work freely among us and in us and through us. And as you do so, Lord, I pray that you would draw us to one another. That this would be a year when we would gather unto you and gather unto each other – when we would encounter you, and encounter the people around us in significant and life altering ways. Make us a community where people would experience a sense of connection and belonging. A place where people can come and encounter and experience what it means to belong to you and to belong to each other. May we be a community that is marked by its open arms and its authentic demonstrations of love. To the Glory of God the eternal Father of all and to Jesus Christ His gracious son. Amen.
Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman
PS – pictures from tonight will be posted soon at www.bstedman.com