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For years, my husband and I have been renting a lovely apartment in the Victorian house of good friends. Behind their home, at the end of the long driveway is a repurposed little building of theirs that the wife of this couple hosts occasional gatherings with several of our mutual female friends. Last night, one of these friend gatherings was happening, but I always had a prayer meeting with my husband and others that kept me from joining the other gathering.

After an hour of being the only people who could make our meeting, my husband and I came home early. He went upstairs to our place, and I stood considering that meeting in the back. I love all four of the women that met there, and had known them for at least ten years. Should I go in late?

Hmmmm, shiver at the thought of crunching over the dark remnants of snow and puddles, in the cold evening, wonder at the possibility I might interrupt their prayer time…Should I, should I?

Slowly I made my way closer, and framed in the curtained window I could see cheery light and profiles, even one with animated gestures on the sofa. The gentle scene was like a beckoning wave to me. When I opened the door, the cozy, familiar, safe, warm love drew me in. A cluster of fellowship that closed out the cold night behind me.

Smiles, cookies on the little table, happy faces and hugs abounding satisfied a hunger inside of me I did not know I had until then. I was the weary traveler drawn into the circle of family. There was a glow in there, so I let go of all wondering and knew I was supposed to be there.

Early this morning the memory of the night gathering woke up with me. Oh the sweet aftertaste of real fellowship, unconditional acceptance, shared conversations and personal moments, prayers for others we had on our hearts were like a gentle ahhhh to me. I also awoke to the memory of a fireplace there, with lovely, lively crackles, of golden glows on all faces, of the circle of warmth coming from there.

Funny. That fireplace in the room was so real in my memory, but there is no fireplace in that building. As I sat trying to un-see the fireplace, I realized that the glow that I was remembering so warmly was the presence of God among us, a spiritual fire that really comes to hearts that lean on each other in love and on the love of Jesus.

“Love one another with brotherly affection (as members of one family) giving precedence and showing honor to one another…be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12: 10-11 Amp. Bible)