Friday, February 26, 2010

Small group

2:55 p.m. Today's project is to have the house ready and welcome Heidi's friend Charise and Heidi's boyfriend Pavel, for her birthday. They will meeting another U of Redlands friend, Phil, at "The Counter," which serves the best burgers in L.A., apparently. I have wrapped and decorated one of her gifts, a silver bracelet made of hearts with the I Corinthians 13 qualities of love carved into them. I'm holding off her other gift until Monday at dinner, when Heather and her husband Nick can join us.

Last night, Steve and I attended a sweet, small Married Couples' group, originating from Harvest. Our hosts are Jeff and Monica Tomchek, a couple we met at a home Bible study when we were all young marrieds. The leader asked us all some bio information and a "fun fact," which all of us enjoyed. I was particularly blessed to hear Steve not only give his personal stats, but fluidly recount his go cart accident from the '70s! I spoke next, and felt compelled to share our situation concerning his Alzheimers. The new couple were surprised, and I could tell Jeff and Monica had noticed a difference just since spring when we did the last couples' study.

It may seem superfluous to bring up Steve's disease, but the whole point of small groups is to be open and transparent. The power of the small group is the closeness and confidentiality that forms, the "group cohesion" the military prizes. I like to think of a group's "culture," or "personality," probably a throwback to my teaching days, when each of my classes, whether kinders or sixth graders, were always "The Kruckenberg Kids." I actually had one of my students, worried about a kid who just would not mind or cooperate, say to me quietly, "he just doesn't fit in with us." Of course, within a couple of weeks, he did fit in with us!

With the house church model of the Book of Acts to emulate, Christians have a wonderful guide: "Continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their bread with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all of the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:46-47) Above all, we are to emulate Jesus Christ in our relationships with others, our dedication to all aspects of their well being, and our personal commitment to each members' growth in the Lord.

I John 4:17 challenges us: "As He is, so are we in this world." No one can love like Jesus, but we can allow the Holy Spirit to inspire and lead us to say the right word, come alongside to help, and always, always, to pray!

This morning, Steve opened the study workbook and took almost an hour to write his first answer, and was visibly upset. (This after the regular hour of devotions he has daily!) Since the instructions were that each one of us was to write our own answers, and Steve now has trouble with the physical act of writing, our return to the group was not looking too likely. No way am I going to force an activity, no matter how spiritual, on my husband whose life has already been devastated by the depressing feelings of inferiority that come with his inability to hold a job, due to early dementia! He's come way too far to endure a setback like that. [And we attend men and women's Bible studies and a home fellowship group already].

As my hairdresser was blowdrying my hair, Monica, called to let me know that a handmade housewarming card she made for me was done, and I mentioned that I was just about to call them myself! When I told her of Steve's difficulty, she said so sweetly, not to worry, that we could do our lessons together, with him dictating what I would write. But that would cause us lots of extra hours of work, on top of the women's study workbook I begin on March 1st, so it was decided that we can mutually get our answers, and I'll write them down.

Monica then called back, during my flat-ironing phase, and mentioned that Jeff was going to tell the young couple with the newborn son the same thing, to do their lessons together, because we don't want them to get discouraged either. Also, if Steve didn't fell comfortable reading aloud, that's okay, too, because neither does she! That's what I call "coming alongside " your group members! I would say the we can expect to be part of a loving, accepting small group with a compassionate home pastor.

And the Lord would have nothing less!

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