The music of the choir – a capella, all male voices, ancient melody, tight harmony – blending in air with the pungency of incense. The walls of the cathedral lush with gold paint and icons. The worshipers standing, heads of women covered, on this Saturday afternoon in Moscow, Russia. My spirit soars with the music.
Greensboro, N. C. – A young woman is tasked to lead young, contemporary worship. The assigned place, a small auditorium, with sterile, fixed seats sloping down toward a tiny stage, does not offer a hopeful worship venue. Yet the Spirit breathes into space created by the authenticity of leadership and the openness of generations of Quadrennial women. The presence of the Spirit in prayer time feels as boundless as the chairs are bound. Come, Holy Spirit.
Grand Rapids, Mich. – An international gathering of reformed churches. Glorious worship! A procession of nations, banners, streamers – and then the placard carried in: 73. Seventy three church partners join us in spirit only. We remember those who can’t be physically present because of visas denied. Christ, have mercy.
Camp Camby, Ind. – A circle of pastors – Haitian and American Disciples – hand in hand. A voice invites: Let us pray. All voices respond – individually, at the same time, together but not in unison – the individual prayers of our hearts uttered out loud in community. The voices ebb and flow with the passion of the prayers – a Pentecost of sound.
We who travel for the church call it the “off-assembly year” … no General Assembly this summer. Yet all the smaller assemblies keep general ministry servants moving from place to place, interpreting the ministries of Disciples from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth. It would be exhausting, except for the worship – the life-giving worship. So from World Council of Churches to the Women’s Quadrennial Assembly to the World Communion of Reformed Churches, to Haitian Disciples Church Leaders meeting – to the Disciples Hispanic and Bilingual Fellowship Assembly and the National Convocation Biennial Session and the North American Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD) Convocation, this is a summer of people of faith worshipping wonderfully.
A band, a beat, a familiar tune, not my language. Still it is the language of worship. Hands raised, bodies swaying, not the ritual of my childhood, but rich . . . Again my spirit soars, and I am rejuvenated. Alleluia!
The Westminster Catechism, learned by some Protestants, asks (in my paraphrase): What is the purpose of woman and man? Answer: To glorify God and enjoy God forever. Surely Disciples communities and partners are fulfilling that purpose this summer. Thanks be to God!