I wonder how you measure a successful event. For many it’s when ‘lots of people attended’, but how many did you get to know, really get to know, sit, listen, really spend time together, and connect with? There are a number of stories in the gospels where Jesus spends time with the one: the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, Matthew and Lazarus, to name a few.
A friend and I run a coffee morning at our local community centre. We don’t advertise it widely. We could run a ‘successful’ (in terms of numbers) coffee morning, but this coffee morning has a different objective. It is a place for those who wouldn’t usually attend a coffee morning.
We are reaching out to those who would find a coffee morning too much. Some weeks it is just one person. I text a number of people each week and while they may not attend, they open up about what’s going on in their lives via text. Sometimes I sit in coffee morning communicating with those who aren’t with us in person but have responded via text. Other times 3 of us sit and chat, really chat about what’s going on in life. We’ve had times where we’ve been joined by a group of women who join us after their chair yoga. We have people who come sit and colour, some who come ready to chat.
The confidence built up in people who attend is really encouraging. One lady has quite extreme anxiety, she’s only made it once so far but talks about it as passionately as if she attends every week. She knows it is a safe space and that she will return. Another lady is yet to come but keeps opening up via text, hopefully there will come a time when it feels familiar to her. I have offered to go and meet her and walk in together, aware that for some people that’s a big deal.
It reminds me of the meeting Jesus had with the woman at the well. Jesus wasn’t particularly welcome in Samaria. It wasn’t a place that people other than Samaritans ventured into. Jesus however, went to meet the woman at the well, he went to where she was.
How often do we step out of our comfort zone to go and meet people in theirs? Sometimes to be welcoming we have to go out rather than wait and invite people in. Sometimes we have to meet people at the well, up in the tree or on the road. Then we spend time getting to know them, for some this may take years. May we have eyes to the one hidden in plain sight.
In the encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26) Jesus was sat at the well, tired on his journey. It was at this point he had a beautiful encounter with the one. They spoke of living water, drawing on the analogy of water from the well, Jesus was then able to speak of living water. In this encounter he took time to listen as well as speak. He knew this woman. May we take time to intentionally get to know the one, however long that takes.