Mark & I hosted our first Burrow Bible Study on Wednesday after talking about it for a long, long time.
The original idea goes back 4 or 5 years to when I was eye-balling houses in East Nashville in preparation for my new life. I had a vision of a Wednesday evening worship open to everyone. I felt called to make it inclusive and not necessarily affiliated with Nashville Friends Meeting. I imagined feeding people, music, silent worship, vocal ministry and prayer. When I would look at houses, I'd try to picture trying to hold worship in them. I felt God drawing me toward that life.
The changes I experienced over the next couple of years put a lot of things on hold. But then Mark and I stepped into this life together and he shares all my desires and feels the same call to provide hospitality and to be an active member of the Body of Christ and we fell in love and bought the Burrow and began talking about hosting a Bible study or maybe a worship group. Unfortunately, we got bogged down in the details: What night is best? Food? What kind of Bible study? How do we keep it from becoming a lecture of Bible translations and historical context? Oh geez, the house is such a wreck. What about kids? We travel so much when's a good time to start it? etcetera.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a nudge from God about it and brought it up to Mark. We started to debate all the above details that we get so easily mired in but we sort of stopped and turned it around. Rather than coming up with problems, we stated what we could do, what felt right and clear. Start at 5:00. Provide a vegetarian meal so nobody has to cook dinner or even make a dish to share (this feels very important to me). Clean the house so it is comfortable but don't worry about perfection. Use a lectionary and the format used by Rich Square Monthly Meeting in North Carolina Yearly Meeting-Conservative so the Bible study doesn't become caught up in head-learning but can be about continuing revelation. Invite everyone regardless of religious affiliation but stress respect and listening in tongues.
Even with our forward moving ideas, we still didn't do anything to plan it. But Sunday during worship, God told me to just do it. When worship ended, I leaned over to Mark and asked how he felt about me announcing it for Wednesday: he looked surprised but said "Yes!" and so I invited everybody at worship, sent an email to the NFM list and posted about it on facebook.
We had a total of 11 people (including us + our "grandbaby" Evster). We had 2 Friend-friendly folk (a Methodist and a Pentecostal smart-ass) and 2 FUM (a different branch of Quakerism) Friends. We didn't really have any expectations for the evening although we did have a loose plan. Dinner was 5-6 and we thought Bible study would start a few minutes after 6:00. Of course it was a bit later than that but not too much. We moved from the table to the parlor where I introduced worship sharing, explained "listening in tongues" and Mark gave us the context of the Lectionary and provided the Bible passages. There wasn't much silence between speakers and people pretty much instantly forgot about not speaking twice until everyone had a chance to speak but you'll have that in worship sharing. I think it went really well. People seemed open about themselves and with one another, and respectful.
We don't know where this will lead or what will come of it. When we invited people this week, we hadn't yet committed to making it a weekly thing but we are feeling led to do so, for now at least. In talking further about it, we decided to devote one gathering a month to music and hymn singing so we will do that the 3rd Wednesday of August and I'm really excited about it! I don't expect we'll have more than a couple of people who come consistently and so each week will have a totally different vibe. I anticipate there will be weeks in which Mark, Finn & I are the only people here and other weeks when we'll have a full house. I trust the Lord to help us remain open and loving, no matter what unfolds week-by-week.
Other than being aware to avoid the siren call of biblical interpretation, the main problem I find is the size of our parlor. We have this huge house that is divided up all choppy and weird so the rooms are actually pretty small. We fit 11 people in this room but it felt cramped. I'd like to knock a wall and a half out to open it up but I'm rather fearful of doing so. I think soon it will be time for us to hire a contractor or reliable handy-person to fix/change the things that need fixing/changing in the Burrow.
We've asked ourselves if we are being faithful in this leading and both feel clear that we are. I'd been feeling like we had strayed from the Slipstream that Mark & I stepped into when we began falling in love. Being with him felt surely like God had put us together for our own happiness but more to do God's work together. We've spent a lot more energy on the pleasure aspects of our relationship for a long time and I had the sense that we had drifted from God's plan for us. With our BBB&Bb, I feel we are stepping back into the Slipstream, offering ourselves for God's service.