Tuesday, February 05, 2008

On the one hand...

Sunday was the Super Bowl. Yes, I watched, and I've got the bruise on my elbow to prove it. But what was more formative for me than that game Sunday evening, was what I was doing Sunday morning and afternoon, and they couldn't have been further apart.

First, I had been invited to preach at a New Church Development in a very nice suburb of Columbus. It's gorgeous. It's one of these planned developments, where everything looks like it's from 1780 (made of Brick, two story, etc) but it's recent. Very clean, very nice. The people at the church were wonderful. Their worship was fun and they made me feel very welcome. One of the biggest things that struck me is after the service, I was standing around chatting when someone passed along the "count" for the Sunday - more than half as many kids as adults. That's a growing church.

After preaching and worshiping with them Sunday morning, I headed into Columbus, downtown, to participate with one of our partner ministries. This church runs a "Street Church" in an abandoned lot, a dozen blocks from their church. They come, sing a song, pray, have a little "homily" and bring food for the homeless men and women. There were more than a dozen who showed up and that was low - probably because of the cold. They worshiped together, we held hands and prayed and had time to talk with them. THAT was moving, particularly listening to the story of one man who had three sons and the particular advice he gave one of them - it was profound.

These two experiences were extremely different. In one, I was worshiping with affluent people in a beautiful neighborhood, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the "big" city. In the other, I worshiped among men and women who not only had no money, but had no shelter and were willing to stand in the shadow of KFC, in an abandoned lot and worship with strangers - just for a free meal. But the interesting thing was not about the difference between these experiences but the similarity. In both, we shared bread and juice, we shared the bread and the cup - we shared communion together. More than anything else, this cut across social, economic and racial divides. In a moment, these two congregations, these two contexts were one, one in Christ. And it had nothing to do with anything I did or said...

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