"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2:42.
Sister in Christ: Beth Lang-Sletten, “Who has yet to come?”
Here follows an overview of who our SCC group has been and continues to be. We welcome now this opportunity to share how we came to be and where we find ourselves today. Part of that journey with the Spirit now brings us together as the essence of being the People of God no matter where in the world He has placed us.
In the Advent of 1996 on Sunday, the experience of being a SCC began at Mass with an unknowing sunbeam on top of my head. This was pointed out to me by a friend who would later call. She queried me with a prayer request to lift up during Advent time and my thought was “one more THING, LORD”! Yet, her request was genuine. So, I lifted it up as an offering along with many that year for Christmas preparation. This time, though once the boxes were packed away in January, the prayer did not stop and I said, “but, when, Lord?”
In the spring of 1997, a group of us agreed to gather for a box lunch. We brought together some possible materials to use for our gathering. It was decided that we would open up the weekly Sunday readings in preparation for Mass. Initially, we met for only five weeks that spring and decided it was not too bad. Then, we said, “Good bye,” for summer break. At this time many of us had children still in school. After they went back to school, we came together again with a cheer. Five women for five weeks have led to our learning many things along life’s path. We came to recognize that being steeped in the Word of God made a difference in how we were not simply just at Mass. Rather, we were experiencing the essence of Celebration with the Lord and the greater community. We learned through prayer that the school month schedule was alright and yet we went to Mass Sunday to Sunday whether it be spring, summer or winter. So, we took the step to come together throughout the entire year. As one traveled we, who gathered, lifted that family up for safety and good vacations.
Our SCC members are city wide. We come from different parishes to gather. As a result as the Holy Spirit leads us to invite people to join us, we come from surrounding areas around Dayton, Ohio.
We chuckle amongst ourselves as we multiply and eventually divide. We learn lessons about welcoming, hospitality, and encouragement. We minister as the Holy Spirit so directs our lives and those of our families. Our SCC members naturally leave because of life issues such needing to get back to a full time job, changing jobs, having to go overseas, homeschooling or taking care of sick family members.
It is interesting to note that we have had several women with the same first name attend our group. So, it came to pass that we have been know as Beth (1), Beth (2), then came Beth Marie who naturally is for us Beth (3). Along with 4 Mary’s’ and now we have Carol (1) Caroline (2), and Carol (3). Two named Joanne and cannot forget Sue (Suzanne), Suzanne and now Susan. For now the rest are number 1 for us and we must rejoice and are thankful for “GRACE” amongst us.
This is an experience of an important question amongst our SCC gatherings which asks, “Who has yet to come?” Thus, figurative and in reality there sits an “Empty Chair” for the one who the Lord desires to come and gather with us In the meantime, we understand it is His Chair and that He graciously moves over so the net person might become part of the prayer. Soon after, we sense the Presence of the Empty Chair waiting once again.
The Bible, “Living Word of God,” and Quest: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For 13 years now, we use the Bible, “The Living Word of God,” Quest, music that accompanies Quest, special centerpieces, reflection time on the Word, and other resources, prayer petitions, and more as part of our gathering time. The main factor that keeps our SCC members together for this duration of time is the gift of desire given to us by the Holy Spirit and commitment to live out “The Living Word” in our daily life.
Our understanding draws us back to the Scriptures over and over again. Thus, we carry the essence amongst us that, “Where two or three are gathered, I am there.” A handful of times there would only be two of us with the Scriptures and the Lord and we would open up the readings for Sunday. We grew to understand this mattered to those unable to be there. We could also count on one another’s prayers. We found ourselves being sought after to pray for concerns of a given person’s needs time and again. The delivery of this “knee mail” comes to us frequently and simply by request and petition. The Word does go beyond us.
As we embrace “The Living Word of God,” we are led to be God’s witness outpouring of love. We experience seeing transformation and conversion of hearts return to the sacramental life (Mass, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the sick).
For a long time, my prayer to the Father was, “When would this experience grow in numbers?” Thus, I was given to learn patience. In 2006, the Holy Spirit prompted me to send for blessed medals of Our Lady of the Globe. Thinking this to be a good thing, I decided to review present and previous rosters through the years. I sent a medal out to all who have come and prayed with us and left as work, new assignment took them elsewhere, or life happened. As I wrote out the self-addressed envelopes for each medal to go, I was amazed to discover over 50 some people have gathered these years in prayer in Light of the Sunday readings!
Living out God’s Word: “The Lord draws us out into the world.”
SCC has been an experience of prayer, outreach, support of one another and others. It is a place where the Holy Spirit has spoken to our hearts and changed our footsteps as we grow in greater understanding of what it means to be a Eucharistic people. It helps us to belong to the larger parish community and to be known. Our joy has been tempered with tears as one dear soul left us, teaching us what it means to move from this life into New Life. Her funeral was the first to be celebrated in our newly consecrated church. Thus, our Small Christian Community in light of the Word has grown in personal and communal ways that only the Holy Spirit could so wonderfully design.
Many of our SCC members have had duality of experiences. At some level we come to rest in the “Living Word of God” like a filling station for the week! As soon as we walk out of our gathering, we are drawn by the Holy Spirit to live out God’s “Living Word.” As we hear the “Living Word,” the Lord draws us out. We give our support to our community and internationally. First, we start by lifting our brothers and sisters in prayer, make food baskets for those in need and take communion to the sick. Some members Lector at Mass, are Ministers of Adoration, are Lay Eucharistic Ministers, are Youth Ministry, are Catechist teachers, are Sacristans, and are involved in Pastoral Ministries. Some of our members walk to earn money for breast cancer some visit nursing homes and more. We give support to our African brothers and sisters in Kenya and Heiffer International and more. The natural response to “The Living Word” gives us the desire to do what God is calling us to do.
The following quote by a dear friend states, “Well, what one gains from being a part of Small Christian Community base is offered here as an encouragement to others as they begin the journey of growing together in the Lord’s call.” Paula said, “I always do better with these things in a small group of interested ‘seekers’ than I do on my own. I think that’s the point in fact. It’s about us and God, not just me and God.” Like family, so has been the life of the Small Christian Community unfolding. One never quite knows what will happen next, but we trust and know to whom we belong and where we are going. Someday soon, we will join our sisters and brothers in the heavenly kingdom. They are able to fully rejoice in all that the Lord has done for us. Thanks be to God in the Highest.
St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church
Adult Formation Team Member at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish
SCC Team Member for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio