Last month Robert and Linda Banks spent the weekend with us which was a great privilege. Robert’s book Paul’s Idea of Community has been a big influence on The Crowded House. But actually the book that most influenced me was his short, fictional account of a Roman visiting an early church gathering called Going to Church in the First Century. Another big influence was his book All the Business of Life which I think has now be republished as Redeeming the Routines: Bringing Theology to Life.
Robert led a seminar for us on the New Testament household churches. Here are my top ‘take away’ ideas.
1. We don’t know much about what the churches did when they gathered. But it seems the thing they always did was eat together. (One of my top ideas for my next writing project is a reflection on meals and hospitality.)
2. We did a case study of Aquila and Priscilla. One notable thing is that they are always mentioned together. It seems they ministry together. So in the Edge Network we’ve begun thinking about how we might train couples together to do ministry together or to support one another in ministry.
3. Robert introduced us to a traditional Anabaptist household church hymn which he thinks has been passed down the generation from the sixteenth century. Here it is …
What is this place where we are meeting?
Only a house, the earth its floor,
walls and a roof sheltering people,
windows for light, an open door.
Yet it becomes a body that lives
when we are gathered here,
and know our God is near.
2. Words from afar, stars that are falling,
sparks that are sown in us like seed.
Names for our God, dreams, signs and wonders
sent from the past are what we need.
We in this place remember
and speak again what we have heard:
God’s free redeeming word.
3. And we accept bread at his table,
broken and shared, a living sign.
Here in this world, dying and living,
we are each other’s bread and wine.
This is the place where we can receive
what we need to increase:
God’s justice and God’s people.