It was a good day for the church in Franklin. At least nine churches came together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Four other churches met together for a combined worship service at 10am. What I would like to do is walk through the details of these two services and then make some comments.
It rained through the night but by 5am Easter morning the rain stopped. A warm northeastern wind blew over our site and helped to dry things out. I suspect the rain kept some people at home. We were going to meet outside so there was the potential of getting wet. I should add that we did have contingency plans for meeting inside. By 6:30am we were ready to begin.
The pastors introduced themselves and their churches and then the worship began. A praise team sang several songs. Then a Native American couple danced. The dancing was followed by two pastors who prayed. Then two men preached the word. The initial text was brought forth by a younger white guy. The application was then brought forth by an older black guy. This combination made for a wonderful balance. Two more men prayed and then we were dismissed.
For most of the folks, it was on to the morning worship service at the home church. Not so for some other churches. We gathered again for a follow-up worship service 10am at the same site. To my knowledge, such a thing is unheard of. Our fellowship, FCC, has had two joint worship services with another church but meeting with several other churches is not something we do. There were two non-denominational churches and two denominational churches. The pastors of the four churches decided to tap an older Church of Christ preacher to bring the word. After the preaching we prayed and anointed a sick lady. Then we were dismissed. I went to bed that night feeling whole and complete. It was a good day.
Let’s dissect some things here. First, there is only one true church. Anytime someone decides to become a Christian he/she becomes a member of that universal church. While there is only one church there are different manifestations or localities. These manifestations will look different but the core will be the same if they hold to the one true faith. If there is only one true church is it not reasonable that these various manifestations relate to one another in some way? It is reasonable to expect this but such relations are somewhat uncommon and inconsistent at best.
From the inside we can easily justify our distinctives, which usually stem from the pastor! Hence he may vigorously defend the church’s distinctives all the more. This is not necessarily bad. However, let us suppose you are an unbeliever, what evidence do you have that all these churches and denominations are one? Well, one evidence is confession? Is there anything else? I’m going to suggest two categories that justify the confession: worship and service. When the churches come together to serve they communicate that oneness. When churches come together to worship they communicate oneness. These dynamics communicate volumes to the world and the church.
Secondly, I would like to address the dynamics of different churches coming together in worship. My family watched a Lakota (Sioux) brother and his wife dance before the Lord. I couldn’t say anything, my mouth was shut. Here were two “Indians” dancing. This language was unknown to me. I as well as everyone there understood what this dance meant. It was an act of worship and it was wonderful. For my personal family and my church family, we sat under the powerful preaching of a black brother. His style was different from mine and so were his strengths. This was not a burden, rather, a delight.
Each believer that attended had to leave some of their distinctives behind. I doubt anyone arrived at the services expecting things to be as they would be at the local level. Why is this? We all know intuitively that our way of doing things is just that, our way. It is not the universal. Bringing this mindset to the assembly helps weed out grumbling, pettiness, and provincialism. Small wonder then that all who attended sensed a refreshing presence of the Holy Spirit. We all left praising God and full of joy.
Without the fact of the resurrection our faith is in vain. Since all believers hold this fundamental doctrine why should we not come together once a year to celebrate it? Why should we not seek to learn and love each other in this way? Eternity may not be that enjoyable if this thought is foreign or worse, undesirable. Oh brothers, we are persuaded of better things concerning you. Let us move forward into the joy of the body of Christ.