Sundays are special. Not only do we get to sleep in a bit, but warm breakfast is served. The Sunday morning crew makes quite the effort to come up with all sorts of ideas. This morning we had Huervos Rancheros. That’s a Tortilla with re-fried beans, eggs over-easy, avocado and salsa. Ooh la la. But there’s more to it. Sunday morning breakfast at L’Abri is slow, extended and communal enough for any Sam Gamgee to approve.
This Sunday, two students volunteered to help clear the paths down to the study house (On Sundays: The Chapel). The snow had fallen heavy (app 12cm). We got at it with the shovels, scraping away, followed by a light sprinkle of salt in critical places. The path was clear and ready before the first people came down the hill.
‘Chapel’ is not a church service. It’s more like a fresh take on a Sunday service or an extended Bible study. At times, the lecturers play music (live or recorded) other times it’s straight up study. Personally, I appreciate music and singing in connection with service. At times, I find myself missing the liturgical parts of ordinary Sunday services. But L’Abri is first and foremost a shelter. Thus, it make sense not to make things too churchy. Many people who come here are not Christians. And some who are, come with considerable church disappointments.
This Sunday, the study was an exposition of the Ananias and Sapphira incident in the very early church in Jerusalem (Acts, chapter 5). This is the chapter where the word “church” (Ecclesia) shows up the first time. More and more followers joined the early movement, and lived in community, sharing property and possessions in quite an extraordinary manner. Historians outside of the movement describes how they lived in tight fellowships, “much like families”.
All kinds of challenges and obstructions appeared, from without and from within. The religious elite told them not to proclaim Christ and eventually had the apostles locked up. From within the church, people held back, where they had committed. People were free to share – but also free not to share. But halfhearted sharing seemed to have had dire consequences. Perhaps, as the expositor noted, this is more an account of early beginnings – how a threat to the budding community was dealt with – and less of a universal teaching. But there might be something to it. If you commit to fellowship, don’t be a half-stepper.
Back in main house (Bellevue), conversation flowed freely over packed lunches. One of the Bellevue-workers had revamped a chocolate pudding from the night before and shared. Silly jokes were exchanged across the coffee table, as carrots, sandwiches and company was enjoyed. Next, we played around with silly sentences in Swedish. Nothing like greeting Scandinavians in their native tongue. Especially, if the content hits the Northern sense of humor.
The snow lies heavily, beautifully on the patio. Trees and bushes are decorated in decorative flumps of whiteness, peculiar in shape and form, rare to snowfalls undisturbed by wind. By this time, most people were scattered all over the house, getting ready for hikes up mountain paths or up to the neighboring village to find Cafe au Lait’s, snack-shopping and a little wireless.
Yeah, L’Abri is off-line. There is one computer (as in the numeral 1) for the most important stuff, but it’s too often occupied, in order to do casual correspondence. Which – should you visit – you might find refreshing. Yes, there is a place left on the planet, where offline is considered the norm.
It’s a day of rest. It’s a day of remembering the Sabbath, the holy rest. The God of the Bible seemed to be quite an intense worker, when he created this marvelous, blue planet. And then he rested. Why in the world would God have to rest? This have always seemed silly to me.
A closer look, and the chapter describes how God looks back at the hard work and calls it “good”. That sounds more reasonable to me. A little evaluation at the end of 700.000.000 years of hard work (the Hebrew word for “day” used here, is not that specific, so I’m taking the full stretch). There’s something to that. Work hard and rest after work well done. Work and rest. Work is impossible without rest. Rest is impossible without work.
The lounge is quiet. Sunshine beats powerfully through the windows, reflected by the snow. Birds are singing softly of warmer days. Savory smells ooze in from the kitchen. My stomach responds. Our South-African student walks in with a fast nod and head for the piano. A melancholic, clean melody fills the room, pushing the walls outwards. He stops suddenly. A passage is nagging him. He practice carefully, repetitively. Gently allowing his hands to memorize. Soon, the piece comes alive … Time slows down right there … My top floor expands with a silent groan.