Admittedly, I have not volunteered or done any VBS (vacation Bible school) teaching or planning since I was in college. And there I did it every year, it was exhausting. Planning started in December and it was a huge deal to those Southern Baptist churches we attended. I separated myself from the event for a few reasons; I didn’t want to get caught up in the church drama any more, I started to really bother me that the goal was how many kids can we get to ‘convert’ accept Christ, and I had decided not to have kids and would rather spend a week on young married activities than with small humans with no impulse control.
In April I was invited to join our Peace Week Coordinator’s planning committee. It was small and informal, we just joined the church and everyone was eager for us to ‘plug in’ somewhere. The theme was Prayer Everywhere and it was to teach the kids/invite the kids to explore a variety of prayer techniques from different faiths and talk about how they relate to our prayer life in the Christian faith. I believe that Christ is my savior but I also believe He reveals Himself differently to everyone. Let’s just say, clearly our committee was very new at planning this and we hit bumps and snags and we waited until the last minute to do just about everything but it worked out.
I have been reading A Fellowship of Different’s by Scot McKnight and it had me thinking about how wrong it is for all these churches to look so much alike. During Peace Week, we invited leaders from various faiths; Tribalism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhist, and Sikhism to join us and talk about prayer and how they pray. We spoke to the children on loving our neighbors and seeking peace in a world that focuses on hate. We talked about how much alike we were, and how we all sing songs, we all pray to God and we all want peace in the world.
We are all different, my talents are nothing like my husband’s and clearly like none other at my church. Although all these faiths are different we have several common threads, we are humans, we share this earth, we live here in Central California, we love our neighbors, we participate in Interfaith ministries, we all sleep in beds in our homes (this is the answer to a question one of the children asked our Sikh guests, they were excited to learn that although they look very different they were just like us).
In a Fellowship of Different’s, McKnight discusses how we need churches made up of the stuff the early churches were made up of…differents: prostitutes, romans, jews, teachers, slaves, masters, men and women. The church is made up of people who don’t look like me, live like me, of have the same life experiences I have had. The church is full of the broken hearted, the poor and the lost. The church is full of the forgiven and those seeking forgiveness and acceptance. The church is not white, or black or hispanic. The church like the unity bracelets the kids made on the last day of peace week is made of many colors and woven together just right we make one rainbow colored church.
Looking out on my church this past Sunday I was ashamed to see how white it was. I was ashamed because I don’t want God’s house to be white or black or another color. I want it to be like a rainbow of threads in one rope. Unity and love is how they will know we are Christians.
My church is not a perfect example of differents, but it is a great start. Of all the churches I have attended and be a member of, I can only say maybe 2 others would have had an open heart for inviting an Imam into their place of worship to talk to children about how he prays and lead them in prayer, or allow a Buddhist to lead the children through the prayer labyrinth to meditate and pray about inner peace, or have a Rabbi discuss that Jesus was Jewish and how He too worshiped in the temple and prayed the Shema.
For we are strangers no more,
but members of one family
Strangers no more,
but part of one humanity.
Strangers no more,
we’re neighbors to each other now,
Strangers no more,
we’re sisters & we’re brothers now.
About the Author of Fellowship of Differents:
Scot McKnight (PhD, Nottingham) is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, Lombard, Illinois. He is the author of several books, including the award-winning The Jesus Creed, The King Jesus Gospel, One.Life, and The Blue Parakeet, as well as Galatians and 1 Peter in the NIV Application Commentary series. Website: http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”