We are very fortunate to be a relatively large congregation by today’s membership standards. This is a good thing. We are able to offer many opportunities for participation in a variety of forms. In another sense, our size might also be considered a difficult thing because we can often times disappear into the crowd. We can slip right through that gauntlet of laughing children and boisterous coffee drinking, cookie eating Lutherans to the solitude of our cars and homes. We have participated in the wonderful experience of worship; heard God’s word preached, raised our voices together in songs of praise, been renewed through the body and blood of Christ, and we shared the peace of Christ, sometimes without even knowing to whom we were extending our hand and offering God’s peace to.
Isaiah 43:1 is a text that has been used often at Mountain View and has become very significant to me for many reasons. “I have called you by name and you are mine, when you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you”. Of course these words are about God’s relationship with us; he knows us, loves us, and he walks with us in hard times. It also became about my relationship with you as a former staff member. As Parish Worker, I knew your name through the keeping of the church records, recording attendance, preparing the parochial report, proofing each new directory, speaking with you on the phone, and responding to your questions. But I distinctly remember a Sunday when I helped serve communion and realized that I knew more than just your name. I knew those that were dealing with illness and fervently praying for healing. I knew those whose recent death of a loved one showed in the silent tears sliding down their cheeks. I knew those who were grinning ear to ear as they guided the hands of a grandchild to receive the bread and the wine. I knew more than your name. I knew you! A relationship of trust and caring was established and we came to rely on one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. I called you my friends.
In a church the size of ours, it is often difficult to know everyone by name let alone establish a relationship with one another, but it can be done. We have a couple of small groups who have been faithfully gathering together for fifteen years. They look forward to meeting together. They look out for one another. They rejoice together and grieve together. It is important to spend time alone with God in text and prayer, but our Lord is actually the one who calls us to be together. He desires a relationship with us and longs for us to be in relationship with one another. This is beautifully expressed in John 15:15. “I do not call you servants any longer because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” When we spend time together sharing our lives and sharing our faith, we become known to one another. We become friends, not just members of Mountain View, but friends. This is what we are offering to you through a small group ministry we will call Friends in Faith.
The congregation is invited to meet together on Wednesday, May 16, to learn more about this new ministry opportunity. This will be our regular ExALT evening with dinner at 5:45 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., Pastor John will introduce our first book to be read and shared in our small groups. Each small group will be led by a council member and you will have the opportunity to sign up for a group that meets at a convenient time and place for you. Together we will read Walter Bruegemann’s book, Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out. The book will be a stepping stone to conversation and through those conversations we will learn more about one another. We hope to become people of Mountain View who will share our joys and our sorrows with each other. We hope to walk along side one another through all things as friends.
Please come and see what this new ministry is all about.
—Lynn Wadnizak, Church Council
Copies of the paperback edition of Interrupting Silence will be available to purchase from the Church Office for $13.25 each. If you would like to purchase a copy, then please email the Church Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up on the “small group book” clipboard on Wednesday evenings during ExALT: Extraordinary Active Life Together.
You can also order the eBook edition of Interrupting Silence from Barnes & Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/interrupting-silence-walter-brueggemann/1127092614?ean=9781611648508#/