We had arrived in Pensacola fresh from graduate school, in a young marriage and with an brand-new baby; so we did the only thing we could think of to survive - we started a Sunday morning class for people just like us, so we'd have friends to lean on and a community to love.
The experiment was wildly successful, and before long we had around 100 "twenty and thirty-somethings" sharing faith, raising children, and doing life together - 50 or more in class every Sunday morning. The women Rebekah met in Black Mountain - Sandee, Margie, Vicky, Abbey, Katherine, Nancy and Alice - were all a vital part of that experience.
Sunday night, when I came in from Virginia, Katherine, Sandee, Margie and Nancy were still there (Picture, l-r, Katherine, Margie, Rebekah, Nancy seated). It was great to get in on the tail end of the memories and the stories.
Nancy, now living in Colorado Springs, had a great one! I already knew that many of the men in Kaleidoscope didn't always "buy in" to the sharing and the "honest about my inner soul" atmosphere we cultivated. Sunday night Nancy told me her husband, Mike (now a professor at the Air Force Academy), was actually complicit in a kind of organized resistance...
... According to Nancy, a kind of informal men's club had evolved around the coffee pot and the donuts. The guys who tended to keep a lid on things gravitated to one another, and eventually dubbed themselves the "Men Who Shall Not Speak in Class" Club.
How awesome is that! The very fact that they talked about it, of course, was a commentary on the depth of Mike and the other guys' commitment to the idea of community.
I can't help but think about my new friend Ray Gryder, who is working so diligently to guide his Disciples of Christ Men into a new era of transformative spiritual growth and active Christian community. (the picture is of me teaching in Virginia) The very fact that some men identify themselves as uncomfortable with change is good news - inasmuch as it is the beginning of an honest conversation!
Our experience in Pensacola with the Kaleidoscope Sunday morning class was awesome in many ways. Our lives would not have been the same without the friendships and the trust and the prayer that defined that community. But that was then - and this is now. The key question for all of us, in 2010, is this: "What are we doing to make sure we're rooted in a solid community of disciples today?"
Rebekah and I still need the encouragement, the accountability, the mutual growth and - most of all - the commitment of faithful prayer. If such a community is not a part of your current experience, then take the following word from Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Star-Ship Enterprise: "MAKE IT SO..."
Amen to that - DEREK