Volume I, Issue II

SHARING LIFE AND TOYS

by Patrick King

Old North Abbey is off to a great start. We’ve worshiped together for six Sundays now in one of our members’ home. Every Sunday we all contribute to a meal we share together. Thus far we are taking the small steps of getting to know one another.

The table identifies much of our community’s life. That is, we’re trying to pay attention to the fact that so much of who we are and what we believe is shaped by our meal times. Think about your tables growing up? Who prepared the meals? Did your family eat together consistently? If so, what were the defining characteristics of that time? Do you notice any correlation between the way you approach life and what your life was like around your dinner table growing up?

Sometimes we’ve been shaped well by our family’s tables and sometimes we haven’t. Without sounding trite, our community is trying to eat well with one another. We are trying to practice grace, honesty, humility, and forgiveness because when we look at Christ’s table, we see all of those things.

Small and profound things are already happening. Our community has three children around two-years-old named Auguste, Sophie and Owen. One Sunday morning, while we were eating our meal together, they began to fight over one particular toy. The adults could see the tension mounting, but we waited to see what would happen. Eventually, Sophie grabbed the toy from Auguste and Auguste screamed in defiance. Quickly the parents jumped in to mediate the situation. Caroline and I asked Auguste, “Auguste, will you share with Sophie?” Auguste glanced around to find a room full of encouraging eyes anticipating what he might do. Gently he handed Sophie the toy. Then (and this is the part I love), all the adults cheered! Sophie’s parents continued and asked, “Sophie, will you share with Owen?” Sophie handed the toy to Owen, and again, the whole room erupted. This continued until each child had a chance to share two more times.

Again, this was a very small moment, but it was far from insignificant. We want our children to learn a life of sharing. I am confident that what has begun with sharing a toy will one day be manifest in a life of service to others. Of course, my confidence is not in our community first, but in the One who has gathered us together. The most important thing about our table is Christ, the One who has given his life to us at the Table. Before we are faithful to give our lives to others, Christ has been and will continue to be faithful to give himself to us. That is what enables us to share our lives with one another and the world around us.

Thank you for your support and prayers. God is doing a tremendous work in and, hopefully, through us. Your support is partly responsible for that. I look forward to keeping you updated with what is going on. By the way, if you are interested in keeping up with us more consistently, check out our blog at:

http://www.tgni.wordpress.com

WE KNEW OUR NEIGHBORS

by Austin Church

Austin graduated from UT two years ago, obtaining a masters in English with a creative writing emphasis. He recently started his own company that helps people build better businesses using marketing strategies and writing.

I grew up in Brentwood, Tennessee, in a neighborhood called Laurelwood.

In the summers, I would grab my ultralight Abu Garcia rod and a few Rooster Tails and walk three doors down to my best friend Hunter’s house. We spent hours exploring the Little Harpeth River, which ran through both of our backyards.

A mile down the road, at the swim-and-tennis club, Wildwood, I crushed on the pretty lifeguards and witnessed my first act of cruelty there: two boys catching crawdads and tearing their claws off for no reason at all.

Another quarter mile past Wildwood was Harpeth Hills Church of Christ where we worshipped on Sunday mornings.

We knew our neighbors. Mrs. McCarty gave me piano lessons and paid me too much to watch their dog when they went on vacation. Mrs. Culp was an older woman who offered us frozen Girl Scout cookies. The Dinglers let us lower their basketball goal to play “Dunk Ball,” and on the day that Hunter and I wrecked our bikes, Mrs. Dingler ran out of her house, as if we were her children.

This made sense to me: a neighborhood was a place where people cared for each other. A neighborhood was a mashup of contradictions. The angry runner who waved for me to slow down when I was driving too fast down Kingsbury? His teenage son smashed our pumpkins.

And the woman with a tangle of gray-streaked black hair who was always out walking her two black Labs? We’d shot with our BB guns, and she came upon us while we were stuffing it with firecrackers. We wanted to see what would happen. She lectured us on endangered species of sparrows but pricked our consciences: we should not destroy life simply because we could.

Advertisements

About this entry