Unity in an Anglican Church
This past weekend, my family & I got to visit my daughter. She’s a student at Gordon College, a Christian liberal arts college above Boston, MA. As we spoke about where we would worship on Sunday, we decided to go to Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church...something very different than the church that I pastor & that my kids grew up in.
I pastor a contemporary church in Northeast Philadelphia. Our live band tends to be loud & the worship is usually very up-beat. I teach in jeans and use Power Point during my talks. To say that my church is informal would be an understatement.
So when we spoke about going to Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church for Palm Sunday, my wife, who grew up in a Lutheran Church, encouraged us that it would be good for us to experience Palm Sunday in a liturgical church, so we all agreed. For her, it was a “going home” of sorts, but for the rest of the family, we did not know quite what to expect.
When we arrived, the formality of the church is impressive. There are plenty of robes that are worn, holy water was sprinkled on the crowd & we each received palms as we entered the service. Early in the service, the entire congregation was encouraged to leave the auditorium, waiving our palms as we sang hymns. We all went outside & made a loop around the church, waving our palms & singing, to commemorate the crowds that greeted Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The entire service was filled with readings & prayers & liturgy. The entire service was formal. Real formal.
As I sat through the 2 hour + service (at my church, we work real hard to keep our services to 60 minutes!), I kept thinking about everything going on around me. Was it different? You bet. Was it formal? Oh yea. Did it communicate the gospel clearly? Yep.
And I realized as I sat in that service, that as a member of The Body of Christ, I was answering Jesus’ prayer request for me. The prayer He prayed for me the night He was arrested: “I am not praying only on their behalf (the disciples), but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony (you & me!), that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you.” John 17:20-21
Christian unity. Easy to talk about, hard to live out. So as this pastor sat through a very liturgical & formal Palm Sunday service in an Anglican church...God taught me lots about unity & Christian love. God reminded me that He uses different churches & different services to reach different people. God reminded me that unity in His church is a beautiful thing.