Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oneness Despite Differences

Let me first say thanks to those of you who happen by now and then to check out the blog. My original intent was to have an update weekly. It seems that it has become more of a monthly thing. I know how difficult it can be to maintain a readership with that kind of consistency.

Hmmm...consistency. That sounds like a great subject for a future entry. I will make every effort to get back to a weekly update.

This week however, our upcoming combined area worship service is on my mind. The excitement is building as we look forward to hosting an event like this for the very first time. We have invited over 30 congregations to come and share God's goodness and worship with us. I don't know how it could be anything but a great time in the Lord.

For those of you that don't know, this idea found it's genesis in the St. Louis Area amongst some of the congregations in the city when they began getting together every other month or so. North Hills, West Central, Berkley Heights (now Ferguson Heights), Wagner Ave., along with Illinois congregations, Logan Street, Centerville and Buckmaster were the congregations primarily involved. Each would take a turn in hosting the others for a great time of singing, praise and worship.

When I began to serve at O'Fallon, it seemed natural to continue the affiliations I had previously known. This time however, I was part of a new family. It occurred to me that perhaps one of the reasons the Lord brought us together was to bring Christians together. Graciously, a number of O'Fallon members were willing to go and participate in the services. Nearly a dozen enjoyed the time we had at West Central earlier this year and a few more at North Hills. Then, my dear friend in the ministry, Thomas Jackson of the Ferguson Heights congregation, invited me to bring the message at the service they were hosting. Something along the order of 60 O'Fallon members attended this service (and I appreciated the amazing support). It was here that a strong appetite was developed to host this multi-congregational fellowship.

My desire was to expose my new family to a style of worship that some may never have experienced before. I think we all understand that there are differences between people and therefore there are commensurate differences between preferences, styles and techniques. It does not mean that one is better than the other, but that they are simply different. I've always believed that by opening yourself to things outside of what's "normal" or fits well within your comfort zone, you expand your knowledge, experience, awareness and appreciation of any number of things to which you allow yourself to be exposed. More simply put, if you taste calamari, you might find that you like it and will ask yourself, why you waited so long to try it.

To most in our family, I represent a difference. Whether it's preaching style, subject matter, personality, perspective, etc., it is surely different than what many have previously experienced. Since I've not been thrown out of the building, I'll take it that the difference is at least palatable and at most, enthusiastically welcomed and appreciated. Conversely, both serving in this capacity and with this family, represents a significant difference to what I've previously experienced as well. I can say with all sincerity that it is an amazingly horizon expanding experience and I'm grateful that the Lord brought us together.

At the combined service, we will have an opportunity to share OUR uniqueness with congregations that may have never experienced it before. Additionally, we have invited a number of other congregations that were not previously a part of the group that regularly worships together. It is my hope, and that of the brothers and sisters that are working so hard to make this a God pleasing experience, that we will all come together as one and celebrate the goodness of God and the great privilege we all have in being His people.

"There is one body (church), and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Eph 4:4-6
And being one church, we are ALL God's people, despite our differences.

Next week, I'll continue this theme from a scriptural standpoint.

Until then...

Each one reach one
Each one teach one