The Words of the Williams Family
Better than the Sunday Comics: Family & Friends Prayer Breakfast
John R. Williams
Family Federation Director and Tribal Messiah in New Jersey
As a veteran of many clergy gatherings called Prayer Breakfasts, I always thought it was odd that the only praying that generally took place was over the breakfast itself! So some friends and I have adopted the idea for our families and we have found something we like better even better than hanging out in pajamas over the comics on Sunday morning (or-even more decadent- in bed).
All you need are the following:
Two or more friends nearby;
Bagels, muffins or other breads, fruit and drinks;
Willingness to prepare a little inspirational message regularly;
Willingness to prepare a little Sunday School class regularly;
Willingness to clean up your place regularly to have everybody over.
For that small investment, you get:
Bite-sized pieces of inspiration to take with you all week, to supplement your Sunday Service habits;
Your kids get intimate Sunday School lessons to supplement whatever they may get in a larger setting;
A homey way to share your faith with neighbors;
Practice in giving out God's words, and the boost in self- confidence that goes with it;
The pleasure of having your family and friends receive your convictions and inspirations;
Seeing your spouse and friends as instruments of divine words;
Your children feeling a part of an intimate community of faith;
Free breakfast on a regular basis;
Good company and stimulating talk on a regular basis;
Building a small community of families that can support each other in many other ways.
So what do you do (if you haven't guessed already)? You and your friends set up a schedule to rotate visiting each others' homes every Sunday morning. We do it from 9:00 to 10:45, to allow time to go to a larger church service. Our community involves six families, which means about ten adults and between seven to ten small children (3 to 10 years of age) each week.
The host family that week prepares a simple breakfast for everyone of breads, fruit, juices and hot drinks, and sets up two gathering places for adults and children. My apartment is so small that one group is in the living room and the other is at the adjacent dining room, but noise doesn't present too much of a problem.
One of the host couple prepares an inspirational message of about twenty minutes, as well as songs. In our group, one spouse gives the message while the other is responsible for food, and these tasks alternate so both give talks regularly. Often my wife, Cathy, and I prepare the message after early morning Pledge service, while the other gets breakfast ready.
The message can be as simple or as creative as you want, with readings from various scriptures or other books, inspirational music, whatever (one time I felt moved to play a song from Pocahontas). The key element is sincerity and sharing from the heart what God has given you. You'll be surprised what is drawn out of you, given an intimate and interested audience.
Sunday school is conducted by the host from the previous week. Again spouses rotate this task. This can be as simple as reading an inspiring story with an accompanying craft project, or going over a Bible story, according to age group. A mixed age crowd can adopt the older children as helpers to the lesson for the younger ones. Dealing with kids is more frightening for me than grownups, but the stakes aren't high and the worst that can happen is that the kids hit the bagels early while the adults are still talking. The best that always happens is that the children experience their parents and "aunts" and "uncles" sharing their faith and deepest values. This is the ideal situation for religious instruction, whatever the level of skill of the instructor.
If you've already gotten into the habit of having twice-monthly family worship evenings, this is a similar concept, only expanded to include friends and neighbors. If you haven't yet made that a routine, it is only a short step from this type of regular gathering.
The general run of our morning is that we start by 9:10, and the kids go to their lesson after songs and prayer at about 9:20. By 9:40, the adults have begun sharing their comments on the sermon until their children run in at about 10:00, and all join in breakfast and conversation until it is time to go.
To be honest, having been raised without the habit of attending church, I still have to push myself to go to a large worship service (I am lucky enough to live in an area with a substantial Unificationist worship service). However, I surprise myself with how much I look forward every week to this small gathering of friends and families to share food, chitchat, and how God has moved in our lives. It's a great way to start the week, and you can still catch up on the comics later in the day.
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