Sunday, September 25, 2005

Unexpected Rest, Union Farm and the Goodness of Friendship Break

Thank God for a weekend of unexpected rest time.

There was a last minute cancellation on Thursday night so I rounded up the troops for a nice dinner at Union Farm Eating House well-known for its 纸包鸡.

On Saturday, finally did the laundry that had been mouldering in its basket since time immemoral. While waiting for the washing machine to be done, had a morning expresso and a nibble and browsed Leonard Woolf's "The Wise Virgins", recently acquired from the bewildering stacks at Bras Basah Centre. The book is a semi-autobiography of Leonard's courtship of and marriage to Virgina. A romàn a clef about loving someone very different from oneself or a parody both of the Bloomsbury Group and of Leonard's Jewish family? This particular edition was printed by the Woolf's very own Hogarth Press.

Tidying up the kitchen, spotted some left-over ground hazelnuts from previous truffle-making experiments and decided to use them before they started sprouting [inedible] mushrooms. Then realised I hadn't been home for an extended enough period to notice that all the flour and sugar supplies had been depleted.

A quick trip to the supermarket was beginning to yield interesting tastings of Erdingers when my discussion with the Erdinger girl was interrupted by someone with a very full shopping trolley waving his hands frantically in my direction. I stared at him for a while, took in the beach tan, white linen and boat shoes, and attempted to search my mental catalogue.

He was someone I'd spoken with at several Friendship Breaks (ARPC services/meetings factor in a time between songs when everyone stands up and greets the people next to them and has a chat with them).

We had a quick catch-up near the cheeses. He'd been travelling a lot for work and wasn't going for Bible studies any more because he couldn't commit to them. He hadn't been going to church either and neither had he been reading God's word.

"How's your relationship with God then?", I asked.

"I still believe he is real but all my decisions in life are made without him."

"Well, if you still believe he is real, then it's ok I guess...", I teased.

"No it's not! It's terrible! It's terrible to live without God. I have no meaning in life. I hate life. I'm bored. I can't enjoy food. I can't enjoy wines. I can't enjoy friends."

"Then, you know what to do. Get in touch with him through his word in the Bible and prayer. If he's real, then living as if he's not real is just pure foolishness. If he's real then judgement is real also mah."

"Yeah, it's just so difficult to do it by myself. It's much better when the people around you are Christian and are meeting up and reading God's word and praying too."

"Then go to where Christians are lor: church services and Bible studies... What's at stake is more important than just finding your meaning in life again. It's about your eteranl future, you know."

"I know. You're right. Wow. This is really a wake-up call. God must have sent you to wake me up. Thanks very much!"

"Thank God lah."

When I first stepped into ARPC, I severely disliked the Friendship Breaks. The polite conversations with strangers seemed so stilted and fake. One lady I met during this time said she hated it because people would inevitably ask her how long she'd been in ARPC and which DG (bible study group) she attended. She didn't want to have to give excuses all the time about why she wasn't going to a study group.

But the enforced Friendship Break reminds us that coming together as a church for service (noun. denoting formal meeting of Christians) is to come together for service (noun. denoting work done for the good of other people). We come together not just to have our spirits raised by a good Christian sing-a-long karaoke session or to be fed by God's words but to serve others. In getting to know people outside our little social circles and our snug comfort zones, we then know how to encourage them in truth and in love in their neighbouring walk in Christ. Good stuff.

Finally got home. Then realised that we were out of baking paper as well... Grrr...


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