This Sunday, the African Ministry from a church in a nearby city came and joined our congregation for worship. Well, they didn’t just join us . . . they led us. Their pastor preached, the choir sang, the little boys danced, and it was an exciting, uplifting time of worship.
One of the things that really stuck with me was that Pastor Dieudonne kept reminding us that God is doing us a favor in worship, meaning that God is blessing us right now by allowing us to be here in this place. And it truly was a blessing to gather with brothers and sisters from around the globe and to remember what we are about and WHO we are about.
My congregation was full that morning – not only with members of my church and our brothers and sisters from Cedar Rapids, but also from other churches in our community who wanted to come and worship with us. So we were not only global, but ecumenical, and all different ages were a part of our celebration, too! For three hours, we were a living embodiment of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic church… the body of Christ, itself. It was awesome.
And it got me very excited because this morning, I’m in Tampa for the United Methodist Church's General Conference, which begins today. And delegates from every state and countries from all across this globe are gathering. And as we worship we will remember that we truly are a global church. We are a church that has listened to the command of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations . . . at least we are trying to do so.
So far, I’ve visited with folks from Michigan, Ohio, Alabama, Boston, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Korea, and the Philippines.
But on the plane yesterday, I was also reminded that our global church has some work to do. We do not truly share our standards across the globe. We will make a lot of decisions these next two weeks that will only affect the United Methodist Church in the United States. We will employ practices that are very “American.” Our denomination does not represent the diversity of the very places that we live in, much less the world. There is work to do!!!
For the next two weeks, I hope and pray that we might not only become empowered to truly be a global church, but to listen to our brothers and sisters, to speak out of the fullness of our hearts, and to be willing to change and expand and grow if that means welcoming someone else at the table and into the Body of Christ… or maybe even being willing to get up from our table and go to join someone else in creating the body of Christ where they are!