Church in Arequipa: Commitment

In the November 2012 newsletter, I explained our ceremony for committing to one another (rather than placing membership).  Ceremony is probably too grandiose a word for Christians sitting around a table, each taking a turn to speak.  But you get the idea; it’s a thing we do.  
After Areli’s baptism on Saturday, the following Sunday was a good time for the house church that meets at Meg’s and my place to reaffirm our commitment to each other.  In a small group, the affirmation is even more effective.  Like a family, a small group of people can have far greater intimacy—we know each other more, personalities and opinions weigh heavier, conflicts are more personal, and, when it comes to loving one another, the applications are far more concrete.  I know what my commitment to you is actually about.  It can’t remain abstract, because I’m actually mixed up in your life.  I’m looking across a table and saying that I’m going to help clean up your mess, forgive your affronts, depend on your mercy, feel your pain—not someone else’s and not “the church’s.”
This time around, the ceremony turned into a conversation, which is to say, it worked perfectly.  It went from “I’m committed to loving you” to “Here’s what we need to work through as a family.”  It wasn’t a tears-and-hugs kind of experience, but it was deeply authentic, which in my view is the gold standard of church life.  Things are far from perfect—that was the point of the conversation—but I’m deeply thankful to God that Peruvian Christians are choosing to love each other enough to be honest and gentle about frustrations with each other.  More so because this happened with Areli in her first meeting as a member of the family.  God help all of us love one another as he loved us.