Sunday morning worship has been a terrific experience for the last four months. I will be the first to admit that I do not always feel that way about Sundays. Sunday can move us and speak to us and step on our toes and motivate us to do better and be better.
Other times, we are present, but we are not engaged. Our thoughts are consumed with lunch plans or kickoff times or other mindless things that still manage to pop into our heads.
For the past two Sundays for sure, I have been engaged. Totally and completely. And it has been wonderful.
The Augusta Heights Mission Team worshipped at Bromley Road Baptist Church in Canada. We entered a very traditional church building, one that could have been any church in the United States. But as the crowd wandered in, that appearance dramatically changed.
We worshipped together that day in a truly “multi-ethnic” setting. Not only people of different complexions, but also by people of different nationalities and languages and cultural backgrounds, welcomed us. It was moving and amazing.
Then we returned home to Augusta Heights this past Sunday for another incredible worship experience. Our friends and partners from Kingdom Life Christian Center led a combined worship service at AHBC, and it was again an incredibly moving experience.
What an awesome day it was last Sunday to see black people and white people sitting together, worshipping together, and enjoying great fellowship. I made the only “mistake” of the day, when I invited everyone to stand and greet one another before we officially started the service. Valerie, one of the worship leaders from KLCC, said to me, “You do realize that these folks may stand and talk all day, don’t you?”
It was as if we couldn’t stop talking until everyone had been welcomed and greeted and introduced. I guess you shouldn’t start something if you don’t have a plan for how to end it.
Now, the music or the style may not have been everyone’s particular “cup of tea.” But if you didn’t see/sense/feel/hear the presence of Christ at Augusta Heights this past Sunday, then you need to get yourself a “spiritual pacemaker,” because something’s not clicking!
You see, it’s often said that Sunday morning worship is the most “segregated” hour of the week in this country. I’ve been privileged to say, for the last two Sundays, that hasn’t been my worship experience.
Actually, it hasn’t been my experience for the last four months…but you can hear more about that this Sunday. 10:30 am in the chapel at Augusta Heights if you’re interested.
When we experience worship together with those who are “different,” we’re getting a preview of what the Kingdom of God is ultimately going to be. And since we are supposed to be working to emulate that Kingdom here on earth, “different” is a good thing.
The intent here is not to imply that all churches should be fully integrated or they are wrong. It is not to say that we should try to forcibly integrate the church. But I am definitely saying this: If you are closed in heart and mind to people who are different, then you are closing your heart on Christ. As Pastor Alex of KLCC said Sunday, we worship a “present tense” God. And his presence is present in and among ALL people, even those who don’t look/act/talk/smell/dress/worship like we do.
Opening our hearts to others is a key to opening our hearts to all that the Holy Spirit can do in us. Remember that God is not limited at all. We simply limit how we allow Him to work through us.
Thank you to the people of Augusta Heights, Kingdom Life, and Bromley Road for opening your hearts to experience how great “different” can be. Keep doing that, and you will be amazed at the difference that Christ will empower us to make.
Really, isn’t coming together in Jesus’ name exactly where we are supposed to be?