The supper dishes are cleared away and the dishwasher softly swishes them clean in the nearby kitchen. The cranberry coloured tablecloth lies in a heap on a side table, ready for the crumbs to be shaken outside into the night at the end of the evening. The table pad is neatly folded, ready for the next meal around the long, oval pine table.
A group of friends settles into either easy chairs or the ochre leather couch. Anticipation hangs in the air along with the scent of an apple cinnamon candle.
Jane, a woman in her mid fifties, with short gray hair and dancing eyes, looks around the room with a smile as she prepares to start our cell group study. She leads the group with a deliberate, animated style.
The lights in the two adjoining rooms are off, and outside the night is dark. Our circle of friends seems to sit in a pool of light.
I suddenly have a moment of intense joy.
Barb, Jane's friend, asks, "Belinda, were you about to say something?"
And I try to explain how I imagined someone looking in from the darkness outside through one of the five windows that surround the room--or perhaps looking down from somewhere high above our house. What a happy scene they would observe, I thought; and how glad I was in that moment, to be there; with friends; gathered to read, learn and share our thoughts.
I stop, suddenly feeling slightly embarrassed at my outburst of extreme joy. Indeed, Susan, who is sitting next to me on the couch, smiles at me with a slightly incredulous expression in her eyes.
But I am so grateful for Thursday evening; a table of fellowship; a gathering of friends; and the promise of Jesus that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is with us.
Matthew 18:20 (New International Version)
20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."