We in the Edge Network have adopted five rhythms in an attempt to encapsulate what it means to live our values. Each month for the past few months someone has been designated a ‘rhythm champion’ to encourage people to think about and practice the rhythm of the month. Here are the notes I produced to support this.
Each week we aspire to eat or have a drink with people outside our immediate family at least three times, offering friendship and community.
links to our identities and values
Identities * We are the family of God. Our heavenly Father graciously accepts us and cares for us. We are united as brothers and sisters. * We are the servants of God. We follow Christ’s example of sacrificial love, finding freedom and joy in serving God and others.
Values * 1. The priority of the gospel: We are committed to filling ordinary life with gospel intentionality, pastoring one another with the gospel and sharing the gospel with unbelievers. * 2. Mission through community: We are committed to communicating the gospel message in the context of a gospel community. As we build relationships with people and share the gospel message, we want to introduce them to Christian community. We want people to experience church as a network of relationships rather than a meeting you attend or a place you enter. * 3. Home as the primary location of church … We are committed to homes as a context for all or most of church life with home shaping the ethos of church. * 4. Sharing our lives as extended family: We are committed to sharing our lives in Christian community, caring for one another … We will not … view church simply as a meeting you attend. * 5. Inclusive communities: We are committed to welcoming broken people … We want to offer a sense of belonging, and be communities of grace in which people can be open and vulnerable …
In all cultures eating is a powerful sign of community, welcome and belonging. It goes beyond charity for it is something we do with people rather than for them. What matters is not the quality of the food, but the expression of friendship; ‘family’ meals rather than formal dinner parties. Meals are a great context to enact grace, community and mission. The Old Testament reflects a strong tradition of hospitality. The Son of Man (= Jesus) came eating and drinking (Luke 7:34). The ‘Son of Man’ is the One who receives all authority in Daniel 7. When he comes, he comes eating with sinners. And Jesus was not half-hearted about eating and drinking with people because he’s accused of being ‘a glutton and a drunkard’ = someone who eats and drinks too much. His eating and drinking demonstrate that he is ‘a friend of sinners’. Jesus eats with sinners as a powerful expression of God’s grace and his new community (Luke 5:27-32). The Lord’s Supper is the meal Jesus gave us to remember his death and look forward to his return (Luke 22). The new creation is described as a great banquet (Isaiah 25:6-8; Luke 14; Revelation 19:9). So our meals can be a foretaste of the future.
Genesis 18 – Abraham entertains three strangers and finds himself hosting God (see Hebrews 13:2). * Ruth 1-4 – a Gentile widow receives hospitality and welcome among God’s people. * Luke 5:27-32; 7:34-50 – Jesus eats with sinners. * John 6 – Jesus feeds 5,000 and describes himself as the bread of life. * Luke 14 – Jesus calls us to invite the poor to our parties because God invites us to his party. * Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus is transformed when he shares a meal with Jesus. * Luke 22 – the death of Jesus is symbolized in a meal. * Luke 24 – the Risen Christ is known in breaking bread.
putting it into practice
* The films Babette’s Feast and Chocolat show how meals embody grace in contrast to legalism.
* Have a ‘recipe of the week’ – cheap, easy, one-pot recipes that provide for large numbers.
* Challenge people to have a drink (a coffee or beer) with one believer and one unbeliever.
* Challenge people to show hospitality to someone who can’t return it (see Luke 14:12-14).
* Discuss together the relational dynamics that take place over a meal table.
* It’s often difficult for single people to entertain families, but they could take pudding round later in the evening.
* ‘Dine out’ by dining in with take away, candles and a bottle of wine.
* Have a world food night with contributions from different countries.