On Saturday, two St. Louis churches that have served the midtown area for over 155 years worshipped together for the first time. Third Baptist and Washington Metropolitan AME Zion Church held a joint worship service to build friendships and partner together.
To be honest, I wasn’t particularly excited. I was proud that such an event was taking place, but expected it would be long and poorly-attended and simply be another good event that took up space in my over-packed schedule. But when one is in the choir and married to the choir director, staying home isn’t really an option.
I was right on one count — the service was long, but the beauty and history wrapped in it made it fly by. Our choir joined with the two Washington Metro AME Zion choirs. We sang together while black Jesus smiled at us from the stained glass windows. Third is a multi-ethnic congregation. Washington Metro is a predominately African-American church. Together, we represented a blending of color and denominational tradition.
At the end of the service, we shared communion. The familiar words of “body of Christ, broken for you,” took on new meaning as one of the Washington Metro ministers broke a wafer in my hand to demonstrate the brokenness of Christ.
Communion continued downstairs in the form of a fellowship dinner. We sat next to a woman who lives in the next town over (which makes us practically neighbors in the county). She works with troubled kids, giving them hope and helping them find their strengths.
Apparently, plans are already underway to make the worship service an annual event — maybe even joined by a Catholic congregation — and to perhaps find service projects to work on together in the meantime.
While I’m certainly glad to be part of our churches gathering together for the first time, I can’t help but wonder what has taken so long to do so. I wonder how much our traditions would have been enriched if we’d begun meeting and making friends years ago instead of hiding behind our own church walls and traditions. I wonder how my faith would be different if I’d grown up occasionally gazing at images of black Jesus — who seems so much more real and comforting than the glassy-eyes pictures of white Jesus. May I always be part of a community willing to commune with others.
119. Gifts of leftover food that make lunch-packing super easy
120. Thoughtful people who provide for crazy seminarians in all kinds of ways
121. Warmer weather on our drive to KC
122. A sit-down dinner at Bread Co.
123. Making new friends at the joint worship service
124. An unexpected sleep-in day
125. the song “Transfiguration”
126. Serving communion (one of my favorite things)
127. First homemade chili of the season (yes, a little late)
128. Kitties who are mostly loveable
129. Scrubs and chili dates