Since May I've been attending a very early morning Bible study at a local restaurant with a group of lovely, godly women. We meet insanely early, before work for most, and as a sacrifice of love for a few who don't punch a traditional clock. While this is my first Christmas with them, the group has been together in various forms for many years. As such, they've developed Christmas traditions of their own.
One morning each Christmas season, N. very graciously opens her home to the group for breakfast. Both indoor and outdoor Christmas lights twinkled gaily, her beautiful home decorated beautifully, yet still exuding comfort and welcome N. invited us in - at our regular meeting time. Yes, this faithful, generous woman with God's own servant heart had eight women for breakfast at 5:45 a.m., knowing that she, too, had a full workday ahead of her.
Before breakfast N. introduced us to a Polish custom: each of us took a piece of thin wafer. We went around the room, breaking a piece off of another's wafer as they broke a piece off of ours. We shared Merry Christmases and tears, and enjoyed the sweet fellowship that comes only from friendship grounded in Christ.
As part of a long-held group tradition, we each brought a different fruit to be part of a mutual fruit salad. Just as each fruit brought something different to the bowl, each one of us brings something a little different to our study, and the study is richer and more flavorful for it.
Breakfast was a feast: polish sausage, egg casserole, mushrooms, orange juice, coffee and a divine homemade cheesecake struedel. Even more so the gifts shared; home-crafted or store-bought, each designed to mean something to the recipient. N's husband, J., serenaded us with his guitar, singing old-fashioned gospel songs.
As with most Tuesdays, I only arrived at work about 15 minutes later than my official start time. Yet it felt as if I still carried the sweet presence of those women with me, their love, support and encouragement.
God created the church as a living organism. Alone, we shrivel and die. Together, we grow.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Heb 10:24-25 (NIV)
Heb 10:24-25 (NIV)
Father, words cannot express my gratitude to You for leading me to this fellowship of women. You know how long I yearned for a group that met in early mornings, to study and fellowship before the worries of the day crowded in. Thank You for Your provision for me - as always, beyond my greatest expectations. May the study of Your Word always be of supreme importance to us.
In Jesus' name, Amen