“All the believers were together and had NOT everything in common. Every FRIDAY they continued to meet together IN THE PARLOR. They DRANK TEA together with glad and sincere hearts AND THEY PLAYED MAHJONG.”

My paraphrase of Acts 2:42-47 epitomizes my immediate community at St. John the Divine. This year marks my 50th trip around the sun, which does not qualify me for the Seniors Ministry (yet). However, when I called the church office last fall asking to enroll in the Seniors Ministry Mahjong class, I was told there was no age shaming and I was welcome to join.

Carrie Caton and Mahjong partnerEvery Friday thereafter, I learned, played and laughed alongside a dozen new friends. We did not have everything in common. One was placing his wife in assisted living due to her dementia diagnosis; one was moving from her home of 32 years; I was a single mom continuing to bounce back from breast cancer. But, we each vied for a joker tile! We all downloaded a Mahjong app to be better for each other. And we listened to each other process life as we racked our tiles and scoured our cards for patterns.

My affiliation with the seniors spread beyond the Parlor. I signed up for the Stephen Ministry and benefit from Paula’s empathy and encouragement. I sit with Judy and Joan every Sunday on the front row of the 9 am service and will room with Joan at the Women’s Retreat this month. I banter with Gary, our “Ornery Ambassador” when we usher on Sundays. I celebrated Shirley’s 80th birthday at her bash and ushered in the holidays as bar help at the Seniors Ministry Party, billed on the volunteer SignUp Genius as “The Best Church Party of the Year.” It was!

God’s truth is, the body of Christ has many parts – and many ages. I’m grateful that Nancy, Ellen and Sally allow me to sit at the big people table with them to break bread -- and learn to play Mahjong.