Count today as the first time I’ve ever been at a church service whereat communion consisted of garlic flatbread from the grocery store and grape-flavored Gatorade. It was, shall we say, not the best combination I have ever tasted, but the Holy Spirit arrives in a variety of forms, and it is up to us to recognize it. Mustard seeds seem rather rare and precious these days. Perhaps if Jesus were around now, he’d be telling us that the kingdom of God is like unto a plastic bottle, BPA and all.
This marks the third summer that St. Andrews Episcopal Church has held an interdenominational service in the park with the Meeteetse Community Church, Western Frontiers, and, nominally at least, St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. For the past two summers, I’ve helped out with the music, which is to say that I’ve been one of the half dozen people standing up at the front and singing.
We music people meet a couple of times in the week before the service to hash out just what hymns we’re going to sing and in what manner we will sing them. It’s always a little bit interesting, because the people from the Community Church play guitars and sing from memory, and we Episcopalians have a piano (and sometimes an organ/accordian) and tend to like to see notes in front of us as we sing. They’re a little bit country, and we’re a little bit. . . Anglican. We sing “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” in our best English choir boy fashion, and they sing “Shout to the Lord” with a bit of a twang and with improvised harmonies, but somehow it all works out.
We don’t always agree on things within my church, either, and we’ve nearly come to blows in recent weeks on the subject of gay marriage (with the added bonus subject of abortion! I said, “Hey, next week let’s talk about the death penalty!” For the record, I am pro, pro, and anti). Yet you could see us relaxing during the bits of today’s service that used the liturgy and tensing up somewhat during the bits where people said rambling prayers and lifted their hands up and said amen a lot. Familiarity breeds comfort, and though it’s good, I think, to be taken outside that comfort zone a bit, as we were today, it is that very comfort that makes it possible for me to pray each week along side people with whom I do not always see eye to eye.
The scripture read at the service today was one we read back on Trinity Sunday, Romans 8:12-17, which ends
When we cry, “Abba, Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Being a child of God means a lot of things, and one of them is the work we do in order to be joint heirs not only with Christ, but with one another — even if that means joining in worship in ways that are not always comfortable, even if it means trying to reconcile garlic bread and grape Gatorade with one another in your mouth.