One evening every week we have our special weekly house meal, commonly referred to as “agape”.
Agape centres around a meal and is an opportunity for our committed core church groups to strengthen their relationships, going deeper with one another. It’s an anchor for the anchored. It’s an opportunity to fill our bellies, fill our souls and fill our spirits with good food. We share hospitality, meet one another heart to heart, spend some time worshipping and hopefully find a savour of God in it all.
On a Saturday evening a few weeks ago I decided to cook a curry for our agape that night. The rice was a little late so we finally got down to dinner at 8:30, and soon made our way through to the lounge. The previous week we’d started something I picked up from a friend years ago affectionately called “Grill a Brother” (not gorilla brother), and some of the lads were keen to try it out.
The basic premise of Grill a Brother is a paradox: it’s that we find strength through vulnerability. There’s a rare and very precious courage and security that we gain when we’re brave enough to open ourselves to honest enquiry. We start to carry one another’s burdens, it’s what turns friends into brothers.
In the grilling, someone starts by volunteering to be “grilled”. They open themselves to any question from the rest of the group, no holds barred. The rest take it in turns to ask questions, anything they like. The volunteer has to answer every question and has to be honest, but he can answer in any way he likes, vaguely or explicitly.
It’s always important to stress how it’s a voluntary thing, no one should be pressured to put themselves on the spot. Living in the light isn’t something that’s done to you, that’s bullying, it’s something we choose to step into. The aim is to reach one another’s hearts. Your brother’s heart is a temple in which God lives, it’s a sacred space, and we must tread there with reverence, honouring his trust. When someone volunteers to bare all we aim to dig down through their layers, speaking life right into their hearts.
“What do you most dislike about yourself?”
“What’s your greatest hope?”
“Is there any question you hoped we wouldn’t ask?”
“If you saw yourself now ten years ago, what would you have said?”
“Is there anyone you avoid?”
There’s something compellingly risky about it: you have no idea what questions you’re going to be asked or what nails are going to be hit on the head, and it’s always daunting to completely trust yourself to a group, even to friends. So, I was surprised how keen we all were to put ourselves on the spot.
Anyway, four hours later we realised it was getting late. 1:30 am and we were still up, feeling like we were just starting to get into it! There’s only so long you can go before tiredness sets in, and what’s more, we were starting to get hungry again. So off to MDs it was, a car-full of us and a nylon string guitar.
Here’s a tip to finish off: if you ever want to get a little discount in a drive-through go near the end of their shift and sing the cashier a personal little serenade.