It was Tuesday--cell group night-- but I didn't rush home as I usually do. I'd gone into work half an hour later in the morning, so I stayed later--on a roll with a task I was engrossed in.
At 5.20 I called Paul and asked him to turn on the oven and put in the casserole that was waiting on the counter top.
The phone had been strangely quiet--and the ringer was on because I checked! There even seemed to be fewer emails than usual.
Finally, I turned off my computer, locked my filing cabinet and changed my phone message for tomorrow to say that I would be out of the office all day--stepped outside and closed the office door.
As I drove home I wondered if anyone would come. Tiffany-Amber and Victoria usually wait for me to get home and then rush upstairs to help prepare for our company-- setting the table with cutlery, plates and glasses. But tonight they were away as they and Brenda were having dinner with Susan and Peter in Tottenham.
I have learned to go with the flow on Tuesdays--and as I made the coffee, and the salad to go with the meat cheese and pasta casserole--I thought that the whole world seemed to be somewhere else today. I set four places at the table--thinking that was optimistic.
Then I heard voices in the hallway. Sam was there--and he'd brought along a friend--all four places were taken. Introductions were made and a warm welcome extended.
Moments later Sam was setting another place at the table--Andrew had arrived.
Suddenly it seemed God had a plan other than a quiet evening for us. The energy was tangible and a sense of anticipation hovered around our small group as we pulled our chairs up to the table--three hungry guys in their twenties and we two--not in our twenties--around a casserole that suddenly seemed so small. And I'd forgotten to stop as I usually do for our weekly treat--a fresh, crusty french loaf. Instead I had just a few slices of ordinary white bread to offer. "Wonder bread," observed Sam rightly--but it was gratefully eaten.
In and around the passing of dishes and breaking of bread, there was something else--a hunger for more than just food. We met because we all hungered for community and for God.
As we sank into comfortable chairs after dessert--lemon cake--I picked up the book we are reading together--Soul Talk, by Larry Crabb--and gave a brief introduction to the topic of the book for the benefit of Sam's friend. I had read chapter 4 ahead of time and it was so good that I had underlined huge sections--but tonight we didn't get more than two paragraphs in. The words struck a chord so deep that we couldn't continue. We put the book down. And then we did what the book was telling us we should...we engaged in some Soul Talk. And it was so good.
There is no feeling like connecting heart to heart, soul to soul, with dear friends who are sharing the journey. And tonight we met a new one.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (New King James Version)
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.