Sunday, June 12, 2011

A More Visible Church

Today four congregations in Downey California were much more visible. Today congregations from four different denominations worshipped together celebrating the birthday of the Church and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We did this in a city park. And we got to that park by parading down the sidewalks, each congregation joining the parade as we went along. You have heard of progressive dinners? This was a progressive Pentecost parade. It was a beautiful thing to behold. Men and women, boys and girls of all ages carrying banners and balloons, and wearing red walking (some in strollers and one in a wheel chair) through our city on our way to worship in a park. We were much more visible today. We were outside the walls of our respective buildings. That made us quite visible. But we were also together. This also made us much more visible. Racially and denominationally, Sunday morning is said to be the most segregated hour in America. Not for our four congregations today. We were seen together. And we were enjoying being together.
Once at the park we were much more visible. Our worship was done out in the open, in the round around a park pavilion. Children were running around. Some people arrived early and some late (as usual). Our music was much more visible thanks to a trombone ensemble, a vocal ensemble and everyone singing together. We sang in Spanish, we sang in English, and we said the Lord’s Prayer in many different languages all at the same time. What a glorious Pentecost sound! And what a visible Church! Neighbors near the park, cars driving by, walkers and joggers, people coming to the park for recreation—all saw the Church. There was no traditional sign posting this was the Church. The sign was in our being together. The sign was in our uniting around our one faith in Christ sealed by the one Holy Spirit given to us for life together. The true Church, the one that belongs to Christ and knows no geographic, structurally, or denominational boundaries was gathered and very visible. It was a glorious sight! It was a glorious sound! The tongues of fire were not over our heads. The tongues of fire were in our hearts and the result was that we all heard the good news in “our own language”—the language of our hearts. Today the Church was much more visible.

Of course where there is fellowship of the Spirit there is always food! We shared a birthday cake for the Church of Christ and the Spirit that makes it alive. And there was coffee. Always there is coffee. Worship, cake, coffee—together they made a celebration visible for the community. Today the Church was much more visible. I pray that the Spirit of God who gives us life, and that same Spirit that gathered us in the park today, will send us out into the world with the Spirit’s fire in our hearts so that the Church will be much more visible wherever we go!

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