was particularly bitter cold that night. Ed wrapped his coat tighter
around him and pulled his stocking cap down over his ears. He picked up
his pace to get to his destination before the snow started to fall.
When he entered the door, he was immediately welcomed. Ed noted the familiar faces were all gathered again and he returned the hearty greetings he received from each. The air smelled of cinnamon and Christmas carols played in the background. He took his usual place at the table, his coffee cup was filled and his shaking cold hands warmed as he wrapped them around the mug. A plate of muffins and slices of cheese sat before him, and after the leader opened in prayer, Ed ate his fill, as he always knew he was welcome to do.
The topic for the evening was Fellowship with a study of Acts 2: 42-47. Ed heard “…they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” He thought about all the homes he had lived in over the years and how he had rarely felt fellowship nor trust with other people. His heart was indeed glad for this place and he felt at home amidst the people here.
When it was time to leave, the leader led an open prayer time when anyone could participate. Ed rarely felt comfortable praying aloud at any time, but tonight he took his turn, saying, “Father in heaven, thank you for the blessing I feel when I come to this place week after week, where I am welcomed and people know my name. Thank you for the warmth here and what is shared. I praise your Name, Amen.”
Afterward, he went into the bathroom, washed his hands and face but carefully avoided looking in the mirror. As he put on his coat and cap to depart, the leader brought over a full grocery sack to take with him, and Ed gratefully accepted it, nodding his appreciation and assuring her he would return the following week. He turned and headed back out into the night, clutching the sack to his chest for protection against the wind and snow.
He walked 20 minutes and turned a corner to head downhill beyond the street lights into the dark, his eyes adjusting as he went. He approached his home, opened the door he had made himself and put down his sack containing bread, a block of cheese, cans of soup, several oranges and apples and a bar of soap. Crawling in, he was aware how thin cardboard was against the winter wind. He reached into a box next to him, and felt for the bottle that he knew was almost empty. It was very tempting, but he knew the warmth in that bottle lasted only a short time, and then he would only be colder than before. It occurred to him few things in his life were a sure thing.
He pulled his sleeping bag up around his head and burrowed deep inside, aware the warmth of the coffeehouse fellowship was still deep in his bones. A line from a Christmas carol floated in his mind: “sleep in heavenly peace…”. Closing his eyes, he prayed sleep would come to him quickly as he lay wrapped against the elements, inside the humblest of dwellings. It was the sleep of the Baby without a crib for a bed, who came to bring us all home.
~~in tribute to the ministries of the Three Tree Coffeehouse and Church on the Street in Bellingham, Washington
written for www.faithwriters.com writing challenge on the topic "Home Groups"