This past Sunday my husband and I were able to attend a church very unlike ours. Different culture, different ethnicity. Very different service.
Our church and this church are visiting each other’s Sunday’s service. A group of people from our church attended theirs this week. They come to ours next week.
There is a very specific reason for this exchange. Our community is rocked with violence. I do not live in a big city but our homicide numbers (percentage based) rival those in Detroit. Most people I know avoid driving in that section of town even during the day. It’s that bad. People living in my part of town are afraid to drive in their part of town. That doesn’t exactly promote harmony.
There have been a number of random shootings and deaths of innocent passer-by’s. It’s not even a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This effort by the two pastors is to bring our two very different congregations together in an effort to combat the crime in our community. The thinking is that if we, as different as we are, can worship together,maybe we can find a solution together.
We thoroughly enjoyed the service. We enjoyed watching and taking part in a very different form of worship. We were fascinated by the order of service and the creative way of saying the Lord’s Prayer, and the unique method of collecting the offering. We enjoyed the rockin’ music. It was a wonderful morning of worshipping with others I don’t usually worship with and knowing this is what heaven will be like. What could be better than that.
The congregation seemed genuinely glad to have us there and were very gracious in their welcome. They made us feel very comfortable.
Can the mingling of our two congregations really accomplish anything in our community? Can the violence actually be abated just because we visit each other’s church? At first glance, one could say how naive to think that way.
I had never thought about my safety. I am perhaps very naive in this regard. But sometimes naivety be a good thing. And where does one begin to mend the wounds if not through people who claim faith in God? Other solutions certainly haven’t worked.
My husband suggested to our pastor that there needs to be more than just visiting each other’s service. Maybe a picnic. But that presents problems, too.
How many of our church members would go to a picnic if they worried about their safety? That’s not far-fetched. There might well be some who would show up with concealed weapons. What then?
I asked my husband how he would feel about going to a picnic that he suggested after we discussed the “gun” possibility. He said he would definitely attend. I would, too.
Getting a handle on the violence has to start somewhere, doesn’t it?
My husband and I have often talked about the United State’s role in the rest of the world. Like Iraq, for example. We’ve often said that ultimately it’s up to the people in any given country to bring about their own peace.
If that’s true for them, it’s true for those of us in my community, isn’t it?
I don’t know how this will end, if it will accomplish anything good at all. But at least that Sunday it felt like it was possible. I can’t but wonder if more churches tried this, if there would be a ground swell that sparks a movement to peace.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.