Some of us worshipped at the Old South Congregational Church in Farmington this morning. The pastor somehow turned the story of the beheading of John the Baptizer into a good sermon. The music was fine (but I did miss Jeffrey), and the folks welcomed us with genuine warmth.
Though this was not a regular feature of their liturgy, at the end of the service this congregation of about one hundred stood in circle and sang, “Let there be peace on earth.” As we sang in unison, we were able to look at one another. Face to face. Person to person.
We enjoyed the gift of community.
It reminded me of a favorite saying of a close friend: “You can’t get to know one another by sitting in rows looking at the back of people’s heads.”
We can briefly greet the person sitting beside us or behind us in worship. We can join together in praising God. We can all bow our heads together in prayer.
But we really can’t get to know one another, to truly know the joys and triumphs, the trials and tribulations of our brothers and sisters simply by worshipping at the same time in the same place.
We can begin to appreciate and receive the gift of community during worship, but worship alone cannot strengthen our bonds of community.
This morning’s service and this entire mission trip has reminded me how crucial it is for us as Christians to nurture and celebrate our fellowship.
How do we do that? By serving together to build a fence, to spread gavel on a walking path, to put siding on a home, to teach Sunday school, to visit a brother in the hospital or a sister in a time of grief or to sing in our new multi-generational music group.
Nate and the other leaders on our mission trip have done a splendid job in helping us to grow as community.
That might not the most important thing we do in Maine, but it’s pretty close.
Grace and peace,