I always find it interesting and fun to peek in on someone else's house church gathering. Following is from Rachelle at a gathering called thursdaypm:
Mike broke out his electric guitar and worked up a worship set. I asked him to only bring us songs that focused on praising God and naming God’s attributes. I’m kind of burned out on worship sets that spend most of the time asking for stuff. That could be just me, but there it is. The girls sang with us. Eden can read now so she loves having a song sheet to work with. Both of the girls sang “Glory, glory! Hallelujah. He reigns!” with great enthusiasm. It was a treasure for me to sit next to Catie and watch her little mouth form the words: “Gworry Gworry. Haley-woo-ja. He wains. He wains.”
After the music, we shared some stories ignatian examen style. That is, people shared their recent “high points” and “low points.” We set up a big bowl of water at the center of the living room floor. If you were sharing a high point you lit a white rose candle and floated it in the water. If you were sharing a low point you lit a rock shaped candle and floated it. For us the metaphor of the water is something we adapted from Taize. In a Taize service the music is designed to highlight the reality that at any given time, someone in the world-wide church is awake and praying. So the prayers of the many (the water) uphold the prayers of the one (the candle) and the prayer of the one adds to and infuses the prayers of the many. (In Taize this is done with the melody and harmony lines, as well as with instrumental and vocal solos which move over the chorus, which is sung repeatedly by the congregation.) Eden and Cate were especially into this ritual because we do the ignatian examen together a couple times a week – either around the dinner table or in the morning while we are all in bed having a “morning cuddle.” The girls love an audience so sharing their “high point/low point” in front of everyone was especially enticing. Add to that the thrill of lighting something on fire, and well, what’s not to love? Eden’s low point this time was that a girl at her school, Mackenzie, had been hit by a car and was in the hospital. So we lit a floating candle for Mackenzie. Earlier in the week, Mackenzie’s classmate, Alissa was at the house (she rides the bus with Eden) and she said she had been up the night before crying because of Mackenzie. So Alissa, Eden and I lit intercession candles at our shrine. I said a prayer for Mackenzie and Alissa opted to say a wish. Then I closed with an encircling prayer. I let Alissa take the candle home with her. (I hope her mom doesn’t think I’m wierd.)
After our “sharing” time, Rebecca led us in communion. Rebecca is really getting into the practice of silence right now. She brought us a quote to sit with and we gave it 5 minutes in silence. (We’re beginners. Five minutes seems like a lot to us.) To Rebecca, the quote was about being a part of the body of Christ, which seemed very in tune with the sacrament of communion. It was especially moving to me because I know it comes out of Rebecca’s journey to trace her family lineage as a Native American. It wasn’t just some random inspiration tidbit. It was lived, you know? Here’s the quote:
When you are a person who belongs to a community, you have to know who you are. You have to know who your relatives are, and as a tribe we have to know where we came from.
-Charlotte Black Elk, Oglala Sioux
We sat in silence with this, some of us scribbling in our journals. Then Rebecca broke the bread and passed the wine and we all ate of one body, becoming one body.
At the end, I closed us with a blessing. I’ve been giving the girls this blessing at night, so it’s the one I used with the group:
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May God lift up her countenance towards you and give you her kiss of peace...
It was a good night -- nothing fancy, just some off-key singing (at least on my part), some stories, some bread and wine. I think you could call it church.