Our theme for 2019 is “The Body.” Today we are exploring that theme with the blog…..
The Body: I Love You
Laura Edgar serves as the Associate Pastor for Youth, College, and Young Adults at Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and her Master’s from Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. Laura loves sports, working with students, and spending time with her husband, Seth Kochera.
My students from Auburn First Baptist Church traveled to First Baptist Church of Middlesboro, Kentucky for a spring break Appalachian Immersion experience. We arrived on Saturday night and joined FBC Middlesboro for worship on Sunday morning. As we entered the sanctuary, we received a bulletin and many warm greetings. The service unfolded much like our services at AFBC: chiming of the hour, welcome, call to worship, time of silence, prayer of confession (since it was the first Sunday in Lent), choir anthem, and more. We followed the order of worship without straying. When it was time for the first hymn, we realized FBC Middlesboro used the same hymnal we use. There were differences in the service compared to our home church, of course, but overall, we felt at home and familiar with all that took place. It was a joy and blessing to be welcomed into the body of Christ in a different place and to feel so at home even though we were far from home.
That same Sunday, my students and I traveled to Church of God Mountain Assembly for their evening service. We were looking forward to worshiping in a church tradition that was different from ours. Although we didn’t know what to expect, we had heard how friendly and welcoming the pastor was. We were assured this would be a great experience for our group, a chance for them to learn about different expressions of worship and join with the body of Christ in yet another place. After winding around curvy rural roads, we arrived in the church parking lot as people were filing into the sanctuary. Pastor Mike greeted us at the door with a welcoming smile and a firm handshake. As we entered the building, a lady stood in the middle of the foyer leading into the sanctuary. She had curly gray hair and a pink shirt, and she had never seen us before in her life. As each student and chaperone filed through the door, one by one she embraced us and said, “I love you!”
Worship at Mountain Assembly looked different than it does at Auburn First Baptist and First Baptist Middlesboro. There was no printed order of worship. We sang songs that most of my students had never heard before. The music was lively, and everyone clapped along to the rhythm. People in the congregation worshiped with their voices and their bodies as they clapped or swayed or jumped for joy. When a prayer was offered from the pulpit, we could hear others praying out loud in agreement.
There are so many beautiful expressions of worship. From large ornate cathedrals to tiny country churches, robes and stoles and sacred silence, lifted hands and shouts and dancing, organs and pianos and guitars and drums, the body of Christ expresses our worship in a wide variety of ways. Thanks be to God. At times we compare and contrast our worship as though one way is better than another. Different doesn’t have to mean better or worse. May we recognize and celebrate our differences. May we start and end with, “I love you,” knowing we are all members of one body, deeply loved by God, and called to love each other.