Some of the sweetest times in the Body of Christ that my wife and I ever had were back in the early 80’s with a bunch of Plymouth Brethren rejects who gathered in an elementary school basement (about 25 to 35 of us, including kids).
We arranged some hard-as-a-rock steel chairs in a series of semi-circles with a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine in the center. Our goal was to be led by the Spirit. Let me say that again: our goal was to be led by the Spirit. Nothing “spooky”, but we reminded each other of our goal regularly.
We would sing a song “randomly” called out by someone in the group, then maybe another, then someone would pray “as led”, then maybe another song, then some exhortation or a request for prayer, then we’d sing again, etc., etc. The kids were included, so we sang “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, complete with hand clapping and stomping, along with “Majesty”, often with tears.
When it “seemed right”, one of the men would take the bread and wine (a common cup with a wiping cloth) and pass it around, with a brief word regarding the remembrance of the One who gave His body and shed His blood.
Then we took a 15-20 min. break, with chatting . . . sometimes d-e-e-p theology, sometimes small talk . . . coffee and maybe cake or donuts . . . and hugs.
Then we re-assembled (minus the kids, who were babysat or taught in another room), and one of the men would teach from a scripture passage. Pretty much always expository, but always with open comments from whomever.
Total time: 2-3 hours.
What’s amazing, as I look back, is that there was quite a broad spectrum of theological beliefs, broader than I would be inclined to “tolerate” now, rightly or wrongly. Yet, we really were one in Christ, and full of love for one another and for Jesus.
We’ve never recaptured that, though we’ve since been in many churches around the country.
But we’ve never forgotten it, either.