What do those words bring to mind? Front porch. Rocking chairs ... dialogue ... quiet ... laughter ... rest ... resetting ... you can add what you will. Joy Williams of The Civil Wars (a singing group) has named her solo album Front Porch. In an interview she reflects ... "looking at my life, I actually have begun enjoying the little things a lot more than I had in the past. I think I always used to be racing ahead to the next big thing and now I’m more interested in watching my daughter discover what her hand looks like in the shadow." She continues ... "Oh yeah, my face is starting to change a little bit." But I remember my mom telling me that it’s good for your face to tell a story, and so my laugh lines are getting deeper and my forehead is starting to show more signs of how much I’m squinting and thinking and, you know, chasing after my kids or reading a book at night. Those are good signs of life. Vanity would say otherwise, but I think reality might be a little bit more important than my vanity." Where do we stop ... rest ... listen ... interact ... and live on the front porch?
The Acts 2 Church had a front porch ... places and times where interaction takes place among the believers. We have a front porch too. Last night, as I waited in the sound booth in the Family Life Center, I heard front porch discussions among adults and children as they sat down to a nutritious hot dog dinner. They all stopped ... ate ... enjoyed the real things in life. They looked at each other differently. Non-confrontive and non-judgmental was on the menu. Laughter was frequent. I listened to the sounds of life. In Acts 2:42-47 the passage twice mentions eating together and 'sharing their meals with great joy.' The Church is doing something that has value, meaning and worth by living life together. What a concept!
For the early Church there were difficult challenges. Shrill, angry voices came from the Jewish church leaders calling them heretical. Mistrust and enmity came from the Romans who saw this group as a threat. The People of the Way (the early Church) responded by doing life, focusing on the good and real things and being 'in the world' but not 'of the world.'
Maybe we can learn something from this. I have heard shrill/angry voices and mistrust/enmity from people I know in the North Carolina church. They are upset about how sexual offenders are being treated. Other people in Atlanta are upset over the abortion debate, worried that actors and performers will boycott their state or local area. As I read that God added to the Acts 2 church 'every day,' I see my friends in Atlanta and the Research Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) in North Carolina on a list of the top 100 Post-Christian cities in America. I wonder ... is the 'cause' of Christ, the nurture of our souls, the reality of the spiritual and life in the Spirit important in our reactionary world? Are we willing to sit on the front porch and dialogue with each other? Are we more worried about our vanity, our swag, our devices, our stuff and our outward appearance than we are about living life 'in Christ?' Can we recapture the joy of children eating the best food ever at Vacation Bible School, sitting on their 'front porch' and gathering to praise a God who has overcome this world? Do we love Jesus more than our causes? When we 'go everywhere' do we go to the front porch with our neighbor and share our meals with 'great joy?'