There are seasons in community. I'm learning to roll with them and not worry too much if they don't fit my preferences.
I'd really like us to grow in numbers (apart from anything doesn't it look good when the stats are passed round at leaders meetings?); cue a season of quiet. I'd like us to experience peace; cue a season of clashes and 'relationship reality'. I'd like us to go deeper together; cue a season of intensive outreach and activity.
I'm not always wrong. Just most of the time. It's His fault really. The wind blows where it will. I suppose 'going with God's seasons' is another way of expressing what Paul called 'keeping in step with the Spirit' - letting His rhythms become our rhythms.
Anyway, where was I? Yes - the seasons.
So, on Thursday nights we throw open our community house doors and invite people for dinner. We call it a friendship meal. If you're anywhere near Coventry on any Thursday night, consider yourself invited.
It had been quite quiet for a while; on some nights only those of us who actually live in the house. But recently, we've been experiencing a bit of a Thursday night renaissance: lots of different people coming, lively friendships being formed, new people. It came just as my longing for new people had almost settled into acceptance that it was a season of 'consolidation' (the word we use when nothing seems to be happening). I was a little out of step with the season, that's all.
And right now it's great to have new people around. Too long without that and a community becomes stagnant and turns its energy in on itself.
So for the past few weeks we've had a houseful on Thursday nights. Last week it included a trainee vicar and a missionary family (and some skaters). Last night a young family that we're coming to love more and more were round (oh, and the skaters again - for about five minutes. Where did they go?)
Last night was particularly special because it was the birthday of one of our much-loved brothers - so we revelled in making sure he was well celebrated, sung to, bigged up, clapped. And we enjoyed sharing his cake - as well as plenty of life, faith, love & laughter.
I love friendship. It is, in essence, the heart of our faith. The cross speaks of friendship restored - vertically (God reaches down in atonement) and horizontally (we're reconciled to each other). Whatever the season, friendship will be somewhere in the mix.
But I'm glad that right now its bubbling to the surface. God is moving; new people are coming.
It's like Spring in Autumn.