There was a comic strip in the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago that caught me attention. It was February 22, 2015. The comic strip was "Jump Start". Take a look:
Wow! That last block left me paused, sitting there in silence, waiting. Waiting for the next frame to miraculously appear and begin to tell me a story of desegregation in the church, but nothing appeared. It could be that the author did intend to share with us that the young man's church was also desegregated, but the lesson here felt rather like, 'we have learned to live out desegregation in the community, yet we haven't done so well in the church.'
That's the message I took away from the comic strip. I don't know if it was the intended message or not.
I am a proponent for multicultural worship. Add multigenerational to that. You can add multidenominational (ecumenical) and multilingual if you'd like. We can learn much from one another when we come together in worship. Worship for people of different cultures and languages has components of worshiping with heart, mind, soul, and body. People worship differently. People tend to worship within their comfort zones, on many levels.
I also know that for some folks it is important to worship in within one's community, to share the deep and rich traditions, to be able to express oneself freely without feeling out of place.
It's not an either/or situation for me, but rather a both/and.
An example. I am Caucasian. Or white if you prefer that term. Or non-hispanic as it is listed on some forms. Most of my life I have worshiped in primarily white congregations. That is mainly because of where I have lived. However, take me to to an African American church, a Spanish speaking church,a Native American worship gathering or to Jamaica or Costa Rica and my spirit finds its home in worship there. I can easily and freely worship within those contexts. I may look out of place, but my spirit is at home.
I love the spirituals from the African-American culture. I enjoy the songs from the African culture that have life in them. There is a Zulu song, "Walking in the Light of God" (Upper Room Worship Book #433) [similar to "We are Marching"] that I cannot stand still when I hear. I have to walk. At our 2 year Academy we would walk around the worship space when we sang that song. At Soulfeast this past summer, when that song was sung, I couldn't remain still, I started walking.
If I hear the gospel song "I'll Fly Away", I'm likely to fly. Yep. It's true. I don't always "fly" when I hear that gospel song. In fact, since I felt spirit-led to "fly" a couple of months back in my home church and did..... and later realized the District Superintendent was worshiping with us that morning (GULP!), I am sometimes more hesitant to fly. ☺ However, having said that, if it truly is spirit-led, then my worship is not about me or others, it is about God. So if you see me skipping, flying, walking, or marching, you can guarantee the Holy Spirit has "ahold" of me.
Worship for me is a time and place to surrender it all to God. For me to be in community with others who are open to the moving of the Spirit is truly a joyful thing.
Spanish is my 2nd language and I am able to engage in worship in that language. Another language, silence, has become a powerful language of worship for me over the past several years, teaching me that as I listen and wait in the presence of God I am transformed.
The comic strip "Jump Start" makes a point. I think the point is that we are a little too segregated still in our worship. I think we can do more to bring together the kingdom for worship and learn from one another aspects of worship.
The purpose of coming together at church for worship is not about us or our comfort, but rather about God. Maybe if we were able to keep that perspective, we would be able to be more open to worshiping with others that look, speak, and worship different than ourselves.
Maybe, just maybe, we could get to the point where our churches are desegregated.
I realize that some churches are doing it well and others are growing in their desegregation, little by little. I also realize that some folks are happy where they are, regardless of race or language.
My point in sharing is that this comic strip got me thinking. Not only did it get me to thinking about how we don't share with one another in worship often enough and therefore miss out on some significant kingdom sharing, but it also got me to reflect on how the Spirit has worked and moved in my own spirit to allow me to worship among God's people.
What about you? As you read the comic strip, what strikes you? What reflections does it bring to your mind?
Blessings on your journey!
P.S. I thought I would share the Zulu song with you. I found a version of it. ☺