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Fourteenth Time is a Charm

By Dan Baumgartner on
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Oct 26 in Musings
“It’s not rocket science.” I’m not sure who first said this, though I suspect it wasn’t a rocket scientist. We use the phrase all the time to communicate “this is really not complicated at all.” So last weekend, for the fourteenth time since I’ve been here, we held a New Members class. It’s for people who want to officially join the church, or just find out more about it. We do this twice a year, normally once in the fall and once in the spring.
These times start with a potluck meal at our house on Friday night. After a few snacks and informal mingling, we pray and dish up.  People sit all around the main floor. At an appropriate time, dessert is announced, and coffee or tea is available. Then we jam into the living room area in some semblance of a circle and everyone gets a chance to introduce themselves. Specifically, we ask everyone to take a couple minutes and answer 5-6 questions. The questions change a little over time, but last weekend’s were typical:
a)      share your FULL name, including any middle names.
b)      what is your hometown, and what is one thing it is known for?
c)      where else have you lived besides Los Angeles?
d)      how did you end up at Hollywood Presbyterian?
e)      where would we find you and what would you be doing on a typical weekday?
f)       what have you found yourself praying for recently?
After everyone shares, there’s opportunity for people to ask any questions that have arisen. Then we pray. The invitation is to pray for anything that has been shared, or other things on people’s hearts. No one has to pray out loud, but all are invited.  Following the Amen, folks visit a bit, then pack up things and go home.
It’s not rocket science. But once again, I was struck by how meaningful it is to spend
a couple hours with other people who follow Jesus, break bread together, share a few things more personal than the weather, listen to one another, and pray together.  It isn’t complicated, but every time I go away marveling at the connections that can be built simply by spending two or three hours together. Friendships are started or deepened, burdens are shared and depth is revealed.  When we see each other on Saturday for the rest of the class, or on Sunday at church-everything is different. Truly. There is a recognition, a relationship that wasn’t there before.
I don’t know why it keeps surprising me. We all want to be known, and to know others,
but we aren’t always so great at initiating.  The truth is we are wired for relationships, whether we are extroverted or introverted or in between. We need each other. And we need God.  It’s why God came in Jesus as a person. To this earth. To know us and to be known. It’s not rocket science. But it is profound.
            See you soon,   
                          Pastor Dan

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