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This post was written by Pete Santucci, who is planting Crux, a new ECO church in Bend, Oregon.
Throwing parties and becoming community to the glory of God
It was your typical Thanksgiving feast. An overabundance of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, candied yams, pumpkin pie, wine, and so on. It was a long and leisurely time filled with lots of laughter and kids running all over the place. But it wasn’t Thanksgiving. It was our Crux community’s No-Stress Pre-Thanksgiving dinner.
Almost 40 of us gathered around four tables in our over-crowded house the Saturday before Thanksgiving to enjoy one another and to draw in other friends and neighbors who are not (yet) part of our Crux community. It also expressed some of the values we have as a new Christian community.
The first value is celebration. While we want to be a community who reaches out to the city we live in, both in service and evangelism, we need this to take place within a context of celebration. Our biblical story is of creation, salvation, and new creation. The Bible begins and ends with celebration — God looking over his “very good” creation and setting aside a day to rest and enjoy it in the beginning and then ending with the marriage supper of the Lamb. If that’s the case, we need to be a celebrating kind of people. And if we are people who’ve been wonderfully saved by Jesus, we need to be a celebrating kind of people. And if the Spirit is forming us into a beautifully messy community of hope and transformation, we need to be a celebrating kind of people.
We want to be known as a joyful people, as people who throw great parties. And by the looks on people’s faces throughout the long evening and as they finally left for their homes, we had succeeded.
The second value is captured in a little Greek word: oikos. It simply means house or household. It’s where we get the prefix “eco” in ecosystem and economy. It’s where our denominational network ECO gets its name. It was also the basic form for the early church’s existence — households of faith, ecosystems of faith.
There’s a reason why we see in the New Testament that followers of Jesus quickly started calling one another brothers and sisters. Not only did they have the same Father in our Lord, but also they lived and played and shared and served and suffered and loved together. They weren’t weird enmeshed pseudo-families. They were a household with a common Lord, common faith, and common purpose.
That night, looking out over those four tables brimming with people and food and conversation, I thought: We are off to a good start.