Getting back into the swing of things after the holidays is a bit daunting – trying to recall the next steps on projects that I had let slip into the back corner in the basement of my mind. This year, I think I put a few sacks of dirt on top of them too. But it is good to begin to re-establish some routine – especially where the children are concerned.
The routines I most missed by the intrusion of the holidays were the weekly gatherings with friends that keep me going. So I was excited that our weekly fellowship kicked off again this evening with dinner at the Texan Café in Hutto. I decided this afternoon to also invite all my new Facebook friends to this upcoming event with my old friends in hopes of enticing a few of them to join us.
Hutto’s festive but rural downtown area is a relaxing place to meet friends for comfort food and cozy conversation. How many scenes in scripture center around Jesus breaking bread with his friends or even sinners? Food and fellowship are meant to go together. Some of the best desserts in the region with a great cup of hot coffee make for a perfect finish. The blackberry cobbler is heavenly except for the seeds getting stuck in your teeth. How blessed to meet again in this new year with the friends we’ve been parted from during the holidays and to have friends from my Facebook invite show up as well.
As we met tonight discussing our holiday activities, resolutions for the new year, current trials and blessings, I was struck by the reality of the presence of Christ amongst us. One of our friends shared an insight about his holiday connections on Facebook. He told us how sad he was to discover that most of the old friends from his Catholic school growing up now claim to be atheist in their profiles. Religion is so bereft of life.
But religion is not what we at the Texan Café tonight share. We know Jesus Christ who loved us and gave himself for us. He has become our very life so we are not just friends as we sup, but true brothers and sisters – children of the Most High, God – and we call him Father. Because of this, I have a real place, a true family, and significance in all of my life. I do not have to look for miracles or significance – it is right here with me in the midst of this family of mine, eating at the Texan Café in Hutto of all places. What we share in this single moment connects us with each other and God for all eternity.
A few nights ago, an old friend of mine that I’ve known for 30 years and who now lives in Arizona opened a chat session with me on Facebook. We talked for awhile about activities, jobs, family, kids – all the stuff you need to know to catch up when you haven’t visited for many years. This dear friend has been on my heart many times in my life. Her journey has had more harsh terrain than most of us. When I first knew her, we were only kids and, while religion was some small part of our upbringing, we did not know Christ.
Later in my life, God blessed me to reveal his son in me and I have been walking with him now for about 25 years. Suddenly, in the midst of discussing thirty years of disconnected life, my Arizona friend confided that she is seeking to know God and asks me if I would be willing to provide some guidance. We discussed it for a bit, chatting back and forth, sharing the confusion of our religious heritage compared to the peace, freedom, love, and joy that are available in Christ Jesus. I shared with her the awe and acceptance I felt when I read the words of Jesus discovering he loved sinners while the only groups he was ever harsh with were the pride-filled, ultra religious who kept men from having relationship with God.
After making some recommendations for her and we agreeing to continue our discussion later, I went to bed praising God for this shared moment and praying for my friend. Tonight, as I sat and broke bread with my local friends, I came away even more urgently pleading with God for this woman. Many of the people at dinner tonight have had very difficult roads in life too. Some are going through them now – but they have something my Arizona friend does not have. They have fellowship with our Father and with brothers and sisters. They also carry with them the gift of the secret things of God – that Jesus Christ has been resurrected in them as their very life.
I pray that this gift – this new, eternal life and family will soon reside in the heart of my long-loved Arizona friend. I pray that anyone reading this blog who lives in the shadow life deprived and longing for true relationship, significance, joy and peace will accept this gift as well. If we never get a chance to meet for comfort food and cozy conversation at the Texan Café in Hutto, I hope we can meet as brother and sisters at our Lord’s banquet table eternally basking in the glory of our Father who loves us. There, religion and all other confusions have long been forgotten. And on that day, if we want it, I think perhaps we might even have blackberry cobbler that doesn’t leave seeds stuck in our teeth.
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