Last night a friend came for dinner as she does most Wednesdays. As we were clearing away the last of the dishes, I saw a car’s headlights slow almost to a halt at my gate and then drive off. A few minutes later the headlights came from the opposite direction and stopped. I pushed the gate remote and a few minutes later a man I had never met before walked up my driveway. He introduced himself as a friend of a friend and as I finished cleaning my kitchen he lent against the sink and answered all my curious questions about his life, his work and his background. A little while later a young mom arrived carrying the miracle baby she and her husband adopted six months ago. Her husband followed close behind proudly carrying the nappy bag. Next was a larger-than-life couple: the twenty something guy pushing the wheelchair of an older man and his gorgeous girlfriend leading her elderly grandmother by the arm. Over the course of the next thirty minutes more and more people bundled into our home: a family with four kids, a single mom and her daughter with a fold-up mattress under her arm, old friends, new friends, young singles, parents, dating couples, stay-at-home moms, business executives, lawyers, architects, teachers…. As I tucked my kids into bed I listening to the cacophony of voices down the passage and thought, what a beautiful lullaby my children get to fall asleep to: the voices and laughter of friends gathering to speak life. For many of the people now seated in my lounge and spilling over into the kitchen, getting there had been a major achievement. Sick kids, work pressures, sleep deprivation, school commitments, personal stress, over-crowded calendars and so many other demands made getting in the car and driving over an admirable feat. Yet here we were, by the grace of God. After greetings and catch-ups and cups of tea, we exchanged stories of hope and faith, chewed over the word of God and allowed truth to wash over us. We wrestled over how to take the sometimes tough truths of the bible and allow them to bring change and freedom to our lives. We prayed. We laughed. We cried. It was not an uninterrupted time by any stretch. Occasionally a restless child would wander out of a bedroom. A mom would step out into the cool night air to soothe a crying baby. I missed part of the conversation while administering medication to my coughing daughter. In many ways it was inconvenient for many of us to be there. A night on the couch with an episode of Miranda would probably have been a much easier option. But as I collected dirty coffee cups after the last person had left, my heart was full, broken, encouraged and stirred. I filled the dishwasher and straightened some furniture, grateful that in the inconvenience of our gatherings I always encounter God. I always learn something more about someone else. I learn something more about myself. It may have been a little inconvenient but it was a great night. It was so much fun that I think we’ll do it again next week.