Well I got schooled this week. Yes, in my attempt to pray 6 times a day, I got schooled. I also got schooled in community building, hospitality, inclusion, and spirituality. Yes this week I went back to my roots (if we’re Christian we all have Jewish roots!!) and prayed with the Jewish Havura. Now havura means community and this particular community is an informal, progressive group of Jews from the St. John’s are that meet bi-weekly to share in prayer and a meal at a member’s home. After a cold call from me, a complete stranger, they warmly welcomed a group of us from St. Mark’s to come and join them. I am so glad we did.
Our bunch of anxious Gentiles showed up early at our guest’s home, before anyone else. Good Anglicans are always on time for worship and food, but this community is not nearly as rigid as us. We were welcomed, made to feel at home, and entertained by their two young children as the adults put the finishing touches on preparations.
When all had gathered and we were ready to pray, we were invited to fully participate. We shared in the readings and stumbled our way through the short Hebrew songs they sang. There was no real “leader” and everyone did their part. There were prayers of thanksgiving, intercession, lament, and celebration. Our prayer time ended with a special prayer over bread and wine, in which we all shared. Ummmmm . . . breaking bread and sharing the cup, where have I seen that before?
Then we shared in a potluck meal. Everyone brought what they could and shared it with everyone. We too brought food for the meal. Conversations and laughter were happening all over the place, old friends chatting and new friends getting to know each other. All the while children ran around and played. It was a wonderful atmosphere.
I learned three things from my visit to the Havura:
1) Sacred space is wherever you make it. That evening a living room in a downtown home became the Holy of Holies. Buildings in and of themselves are just brick and mortar, wood and nails. It is people and the way they use buildings that make buildings or locations sacred or holy.
2) Community is messy. True community is not neat and tidy. It is not come in, sit down, shut up, and pay out. It is welcome home, gather around, take part, and share in. Community is all taking leadership. Community is young and old finding their place. Community is gathering, praying, and feasting. Community is leaving a changed person, to go and share that community with the whole world.
3) Prayer is central to community, and community is central to prayer. One feeds the other, in a divinely dynamic relationship. I have experienced this truth over, and over, over again on my Lenten Prayer Journey. The people of the Havura embody this truth and I am glad they shared it with us.