And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. . . .” (Revelation 5:9)
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:46.47)
We naturally gravitate toward those who are like us. Knowing the same language, the same idiom, laughing at familiar jokes, discussing the same books, shows, and films, sharing similar experiences–all that commonality makes for quick and easy community. And there’s no harm in that almost ready-made connectedness.
But what binds the church together is not primarily, or essentially, about those variables we frequently form community around. It’s about a common need, a common hope, and a common love that transcends those other identifiers. Therefore the church has a special responsibility, if not a mandate, to ensure that it orders itself around what all believers have in common rather than the what we might otherwise choose to let unify us. That means we take seriously the diversity (ethnic, socio-economic, educational to name a few variables) within a given community in the ministry efforts we undertake. Such a commitment reflects our faith’s unequivocal interest in gathering all nations in worship of the Triune God as the texts referenced above mention.
One domain of church life in which that respect for a community’s diversity must play out is in the area of liturgy, the ordered yet flexible expression of worship we engage in each week. Liturgy in its original language connotes “participation”–how a given body will not simply sit as spectators to words, prayers, and songs whose focus is on God, but how they will become the collective voice that communicates its praises to God in manifold forms.
The Session of CtK has invited David Bailey, a humble and talented worship leader, with vast experience in helping churches come to terms with the cultural variety within a given community–specifically in how that diversity should shape our times of gathered worship. David will be here this coming weekend, February 23, 24, to serve us in three ways:
- Saturday morning, he’ll lead a workshop for everyone who has an interest in, or questions about multi-cultural worship. We especially invite all artists and musicians of any skill level to take part. The first hour will involve a discussion of some of the basics of multi-cultural worship, with the remainder devoted to an extended rehearsal on a variety of musical forms. Feel free to join us for all or part of this open workshop. (9:30a-12:30p at the home of Paul and Cathy McAndrew)
- Sunday morning, David will unobtrusively give shape to our liturgy, offering his own insights into how we might think more broadly in our liturgy-formation so we can respect the multiple constituencies in our own congregation
- Sunday during Q&A he’ll share some of his experiences in being part of multi-cultural congregations and then invite questions.
Our overarching purpose in inviting David to share with and guide us is not to discard the liturgical and musical forms with which we are familiar. Rather it is to catalyze us to consider the breadth of ways in which we might re-enact the gospel story each week. It is not that we have considered our tradition and found it lacking but recognize that there is a much wider “color palette” of liturgical and musical forms that honors both God and the call to love those who are unlike us.
The weekend as you can see will be a full one. We hope you can come to any and all.