Home groups go by many names, house groups, cell groups, small groups. My favourite is Family Groups.
In my first few weeks in this role, I was kindly invited to attend the Wednesday lunchtime group, led by John Harper. The group has been running for the best part of 5 years, with 14 members, of which there are around 10 at each session, plus Millie the dog. John and Sandra have set up home groups in all of their previous Parishes with each one following the same format of sharing lunch, followed by teaching, then prayer. Incredibly, John and Sandra still see the members from John’s original home group from before he married Sandra!
Watching this home group interact as they arrived and prepared the meal, can only be compared to that of watching a feel-good Christmas movie. One where all the family are arriving home not having seen each other in weeks and hugging and laughing together; the group were surrounded with love. In John 17:22-23, we read “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This group demonstrated the meaning of this Bible passage to me beautifully through their interactions with one another; it is through this unity that we can see the love of God.
The joy and laughter continued throughout the meal of homemade soup, bread, cheese and fruit. Whilst there was volume in the various conversations and laughter, there was also a calming, relaxed atmosphere. It was the perfect time for everyone to talk and catch up with one another; it felt like home. Afterwards, everyone worked together to tidy away and make tea. They worked in beautiful synchronization, once again enhancing the feeling of a family that knew each other well and had been doing this for many years. It was then time to retire to the living room to begin the study.
The group have studied a variety of subjects over the years, including Rembrandts The Prodigal Son and various DVD studies such as The Theory of Everything. At this session they were starting a new subject ‘Christ and the Chocolaterie’ based on the film, Chocolat. The study takes key events from the movie and relates them to key Bible messages. Everyone in the group was free to have their own opinion and respected those of others. There was time for people to ask questions and hear one another’s thoughts which subsequently helped my own thought processes. The talk was followed by a time of prayer and reflection, and then goodbyes.
I left the group, feeling in awe of the love and familiarity I had experienced. I was welcomed into the group with open arms and instantly made to feel part of the family. Thank you for the invitation and for the wonderful experience.
If you have been considering attending a Home Group, I cannot recommend them enough. They allow you to form good friendships, allow for a time where you can ask questions, hear the views of others, a time to open up and to pray for one another. They are how we get to know one another and build our Church family and unity. Home groups are truly special places.
John & Sandra’s group meet on alternate Wednesday lunchtimes during term time. St. Peter’s have many different groups on at different times so there should be something to suit everyone.
Please speak with Jon if you are considering joining a group.
Laura Ashley (PCO) 07939 449255, firstname.lastname@example.org