Church & Culture

Yesterday we had an amazing worship experience.  My congregation hosted a sister congregation from about 50 miles away.  Many of those folks don’t speak English – they are part of the only fully Hispanic Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation in at least 100 square miles, possible farther.  I am blessed to regularly get to associate with their pastor through our clergy gatherings.  

They joined us for our morning worship, since they worship in the afternoon.  We enjoyed the Divine Service bi-lingually, thanks to the abilities of a gifted translator.  They brought musicians to share with us some of their worship music, and our musicians provided music typical for our worship.  For me, the highlight was getting to share the Lord’s Supper together.  What a beautiful reminder that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of language, culture, or nation of origin!  We all gather around the same table, we are all part of His body, and one day eternity will be filled with our mutual worship of our God.  
It wasn’t easy, to be sure.  It took a lot of planning, but even more flexibility.  It required patience and indulgence by everyone involved.  It was not completely natural for anyone, and everyone was out of their comfort zone in one way or another.  Yet I hope that, like me, people came away feeling as though it wasn’t just a worthwhile effort, it was good.  Not easy.  Not convenient.  Not what we’re used to, but good.  Good as in Peter, James and John in the cloud with Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.  It’s good to be here, not because we aren’t nervous or perhaps even a bit frightened, but because the glory of God is revealed here in a way it usually isn’t.  We are witnesses as well as participants.
I still don’t know if the Church is supposed to be the place where cultural lines are both blurred and honored, where we blend ourselves together imperfectly as we will one day be blended perfectly, bringing the best of our cultures to one another and more importantly to the God who created us, or whether the Church is better off affirming that cultures ought to be kept separate so we can worship comfortably.  My heart tells me the former is better, that our discomfort can be an indicator of God at work more reliably than our comfort.  But I honestly don’t know.  
But I’m grateful for fellow pastors, parishioners, brothers and sisters in Christ who are willing to experiment with me (or at least humor me!).  

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