Monday, July 16, 2012

Crossing Cultures

Yesterday began our journey into things unfamiliar.  Shawn and I headed up to Ausable Forks, NY (Right outside of Plattsburg, for most of you who will ask me later) and met with Deacon Patti from the St. James Episcopal Church there.  What a wonderful time we had with this amazing group of people!

Having grown up in the CMA, we are not familiar with the liturgy and form that accompanies this church.  The first time I attended a service at Oaks with Hannah and Christina I almost laughed at my lack of knowing what to do - stand, sit, repeat, answer, etc.  I felt like a little kid instead of a pastor's wife - it opened my eyes to how "real people" feel coming into church! When we were in South Sudan it was the same way.  Yes, the service was in Moru and Juba Arabic, and every once in a while translated into a few English phrases.  But the big thing was that I couldn't even guess what was being said or what was occurring because I was as unfamiliar with the Anglican church as I was the S. Sudanese languages!

A couple of years ago I blogged about our friend who is a Methodist Pastor and going to his service during the Lent season.  I wrote, "I was deeply moved yet strangely uncomfortable....and realized I do not have the whole concept of praise and worship 'down'."  As we have began attending services with our Episcopal friends, I am reminded of this once again.  Yes, I LOVE our worship teams and the music and service at Compelled on Wednesday night, but it is not the only way to worship God.  As the word of God is read and the person reading ends with, "The word of the Lord," and the congregation responds with, "Thanks be to God," my heart leaps a little.  Yes!  This is the Word of God - alive and active and real and being recognized as so.

Yesterday was a wonderful experience in this church as we were warmly welcomed, hugged, kissed, and prayed for.  We sang formal hymns and then one of the congregants from Jamaica broke out the tambourine and fell into dancing and singing - and the whole congregation with him! Then we took communion together and focused on what Christ has done for us - which ended with more tambourines and dancing!  Shawn preached for the first time in the Episcopal church, and he got "amen-ed"  more than any other church we have been at.  While I had been prepared for a more formal service, I left feeling like I had been in the spontaneous presence of God in so many ways.  

One of the perks of raising funds is the chance to speak in churches and worship with people we haven't had the chance to be with recently - or ever.  I am very much looking forward to worshiping with you all! 

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