That first summer in Washington, D.C., shortly after the community had moved from Chicago in 1975, was one of the hottest and muggiest on record. While we newcomers became acclimated to Washington weather with excruciating sluggishness, the saunalike D.C. air seemed to do little to sodden the energetic spirits of the neighborhood kids who greeted us the day we moved in.
One particularly torpid day, as we and our newfound friends were strewn around before fans that only blew the heavy air back in our faces, the heavens opened, drenching the asphalt in a sudden rainstorm. In one great movement of the Spirit—or at least of joyful relief—we ran into the street, leaping and cavorting in the cool rain, twirling, laughing, delighting in God's gift of the storm and in each other.
That sense of God's graciousness toward us has from the very beginning characterized our worship together. Again and again we have been astounded at God's sheer ingenuity in drawing together such ordinary yet diverse people and molding us into something approaching coherence.
While celebrating unity our worship has likewise reflected our diversity, combining liturgy with an emphasis on the preaching of the word, as well as moments of contemplative silence and spontaneous outbreaks of song, praise, and prayer.
At no time was our diversity more a source of struggle and joy than in our early households, where sometimes as many as 18 people lived together in precarious harmony. At weekly household meetings and around the dinner table, we attempted to work with our differing tastes and gifts—everything from a preference for lentils or an aversion to mushrooms to styles of prayer and spirituality—while we rejoiced in our community.