Sunday, February 01, 2009

Being Together

The Messenger
February 2009
Grace Episcopal Church, Madison NJ

Being Together

I am sure that many of us agree that one of the real highlights for Grace Church during 2008 was the extremely successful 10,000 Villages event in December. It was amazing to see Nieman Hall transformed by a band of hardworking, determined parishioners into a dazzling marketplace. I invited my parents and some friends to the Friday night preview party and they were certainly impressed by what had been achieved – and also gave into temptation and purchased a couple of items. Later, many parishioners mentioned to me that they really enjoyed the party because it gave us a chance to enjoy one another’s company, meet new parishioners, and catch up with old friends.

In these challenging times it’s especially important for us to be together. Yet, for a variety of reasons many of us don’t get to spend enough time with friends. Some of us are incredibly busy, juggling all the responsibilities and tasks of work and family. Others of us have become isolated, perhaps because a spouse has died or we are no longer able to get out the way we once did. And even if we are fortunate enough to spend time with friends, often there are many parishioners we don’t know at all.

In an effort to meet this need, Grace Church is offering a new opportunity for being together called “First Friday.” Beginning on February 6, on each first Friday of the month beginning at 7:00pm, all the adults of Grace Church are invited to “First Friday” - a potluck supper in the parish hall. Bring a dish and a beverage and let’s spend some time just being together. There is no cost for this event – it’s not a fundraiser. Child care will be available in the nursery. Rides are available for those of us who are unable to drive, or can’t drive at night.

To make things even more interesting, each month at “First Friday” a different Grace Church parishioner will be invited to share something with the group about their work, or a hobby or an interest. We have a wonderfully talented and interesting congregation, but most of us do not really know much about each other. For our first “First Friday” I have invited Eric Stroud (one of the most talented and interesting among us!) to share a bit about his work in the world of sharks. I know it will be a fascinating and fun evening. I hope many of you will be there. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

“First Friday” is something new, but Grace Church already offers many opportunities for us to be together. Both the Men’s Group and the Women of Grace have been increasingly active. At the end of January the Friday morning Men’s Breakfast at the Bagel Chateau shattered all previous records when 10 of us pushed tables together and had a lively conversation. The Tuesday evening Craft Guild continues to gather, enjoying one another’s company in the library on Tuesday evenings. I’m told at least one person’s “craft” is folding laundry! On Friday afternoons the choir moms and dads enjoy fine coffee and snacks and even better conversation while the children are in choir rehearsal.

And then of course there are our services during the week. If you have never come to a weekday service – or if you haven’t been to one in a while – I really encourage you to take advantage of this great blessing we have at Grace Church. Each service has its own little community, providing not only an opportunity for prayer and worship, but also wonderful, caring fellowship. And sometimes there’s food involved! After the Thursday morning Eucharist most of us have breakfast together, lately at the Bagel Chateau, but soon back in our own kitchen. The breakfasts after Morning Prayer on Saturday are fantastic, and easily one of Grace Church’s best-kept secrets.

Finally, the most important opportunity to be together is on Sunday when we are all called to gather in church, to hear God’s Word and to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. After the morning services, as always, coffee hour is a time to catch up with one another and to just be together. If you haven’t been around in a while, come this Sunday and catch up with old friends. And, don’t forget to mark your calendars for “First Friday” on the 6th!