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Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Experienced Conviviality Last Night

Late Latin convvilis, from Latin convvium, banquet : com-, com- + vvere, to live; see gwei- in Indo-European roots.]

I love this word, although, I rarely hear anyone use it. In a nutshell, it means festive or merry. Someone who is convivial has a fondness for festive social occasions. I also love the Latin root "to live the banquet," to experience full merriment and festivity. I think most people enjoy a festive occasion with friends and family. Even people with social anxiety have a longing to be able to participate in fun occasions when they get the anxiety under control. We are made for joy and being intertwined. Especially pleasurable is when everyone has a great time in the process.

I think that happened last night at our Christmas Party. There were 15 of us: 12 adults and 3 kids. We planned an evening of relaxed hanging out: sharing food, offering Christmas memories and traditions, and having an informal conversation about what helps us connect to the Christmas story.

We got to know each other better, I think. For some, faces and names became people with shared experiences.

At one point in the party, I looked into the living room from the kitchen and heard people actively "living the banquet" with each other. They were talking and laughing, paying attention, and connecting lightheartedly. There was palpable energy flowing from the room. If you saw the scene you would have felt these folks liked being around each other. It sure looked and sounded like they did.

It was sure a pleasure for Tricia and me to see and be a part of.

The thought occurred to me this morning that conviviality is a gracious gift of God for the journey which can be outrageously taxing at times. To make merry with friends at a festive occasion or celebration takes the edge off. Such occasions are like oases where people can set aside the pressures and strains of life for a few hours to just enjoy a nice time together over food, drink, music and lively conversation. We all celebrate too little these days.

It also occurred to me that convivial occasions are a foretaste of not only the astounding Wedding Feast of the Lamb, a banquet beyond what we can imagine, but the atmosphere and culture of heaven where the general mood will be that of joy and creativity. Laughter will be viral and being together will be an easy preference. The New Jerusalem will be abuzz with culture and gatherings and celebrating in the midst of work which enlivens and blesses everyone everyday.

As I alluded, we had a little taste of that last night with really wonderful people.

I think I can say for the team we hope that imagine/Northampton will be characterized as a church where the atmosphere and culture of relaxed conviviality will be the "way we roll."

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