living large in soggy Tampa (rain, more rain, tropical storm and rich blessings)
I understand that everyone who lives around Tampa knows this already… but it simply won’t stop raining! Tropical Storm Debby – who was supposed to be traveling west and sharing a few inches of the damp stuff with everyone – is still stalled out a couple of hundred miles west of Tampa and south of Panama City.
The result is record rainfall with no end in sight. We’ve already set a new high for June, and by the end of today we’ll be at 20-plus inches for the month.
PARTY: One side-effect, even without any high winds, is downed trees and, consequently, downed power lines. Many trees – mostly oaks – become so saturated that they can’t support their own weight. Huge limbs fall off and entire trees topple in slow motion.
That’s what cut off the power at our house yesterday, and it happened right as we finished cleaning the house for a party with our Sunday-evening small group. Eventually, and with the house getting hotter and darker by the minute, we decided to call everyone and come up with a new plan.
This is what my facebook status update read around 5:00:
House clean… power out! Relocated party to Mimi’s. Will enjoy clean house later!
SERENDIPITY: It’s summer, so half our group were unable to come, but we did fill the table with a round dozen and enough noise that they stopped seating people in our section!
The experience reminded me of a conversation I had with my Sunday morning class earlier in the day. We’re studying Jesus, and we were talking about his personality. Everyone agreed that Jesus would certainly have been the kind of person who made a party buzz. Great conversationalist… good humor… attentive listener… the gift of making everyone feel welcome.
Well, Jesus was at our dinner party Sunday evening; he was there in many ways. Obviously – and I’ve always loved this image – Jesus was the “unseen guest” represented in that classic painting. But, more poignantly, Jesus was there in each one of my friends.
HOLY: You see, in the best of the small group experience, we are the presence of Christ to and for one-another.
- We may have started with a blessing, but was the content of our conversation specifically religious? No.
- Was there a lot of “super-spiritual” language in the way that we talked? Again, no.
- But… was our evening together HOLY? You bet! That’s a resounding “yes!” It was holy through and through.
“For where two or three gather in my name,” Jesus said, “there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
And isn’t that “where the rubber meets the road” in terms of our lives as actively engaged disciples of Jesus? It’s in the community, it’s embedded in the way we “do life” together, it’s in the ways that we invite Jesus to literally inhabit every aspect of our lives.
This is “The Life-Charged Life.” Can I recommend it any more clearly?
In love, and because of love – DEREK