The Church has always sought to be a place where unity and peace rooted in Christ’s love, has the power for transformation and reconciliation that transcends past party lines and the divisions that plague our world. In the early church of Christ followers, we read accounts of the ancient faith communities wrestling with what it means to be unified through the Pauline Epistles. He argues that our unity should not simply be rooted in family lines and lineages in the faith, but by the Spirit of God. In our current cultural moment, when we have been hit with great divisiveness and pain over the last year, we are in need of the same healing balm of peace and true unity as a nation.
Just as we are called to be one nation, under God…we are more importantly, called to be One Church under God…seeking liberty and justice for all.
But what does unity mean for a micro ecumenical church who is supported by nine different denominations? While we recognize there are theological lines that have divided us, isn’t it interesting that the Spirit has called us to plant a church as a community that builds on the common ground between us all? In this new season of Christianity, where we are entering into a post-pandemic world and seeking to find a new tent in the wilderness, perhaps we need to build a bigger tent?
This past Sunday we had a special joint service with Common Ground Church, a sister congregation who has loaned us our space on Charles Street for the last year. It was a very intentional service that we took time to blend our two traditions into one beautiful proclamation for God’s glory. We were worried if our people would feel comfortable, if they would even have the courage to come through the doors. Thanks be to God we had about 15-20 of our membership there, but it left us wondering, where were the others? How have we created these barriers that keep us separated despite our best efforts? How can we see the Church world through our neighbors eyes to create a place that is neutral and theirs? A place where the Church can truly come together and know that we are here in this season, together.
At Street Church we ask the question of what does it mean to be One body of believers, even when our traditions may be a bit different? Even when the neighborhoods that we serve may be one church per block, how can we be one community of Christ believers that are bound by something deeper than the labels that define us?
Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:1-6 that our bond is first and foremost rooted in love through Christ. This love is what opens our minds to true enlightenment-it shows us what it means to care for one another. When we start with love, our communities become more welcoming, more humble, and we live better together.
This, my friends, this is a model for what the world needs right now.
Christian unity that is built upon love allows peace to follow. Peace that can rebuild and restore, in the face of our divisions that seek to separate us. We seek a peace that unifies us and bears all things for one another so that we can be bound together in One Spirit. Why?
Because we are stronger together.
We are not meant to do this Christian life alone or fragmented in our insular faith communities.
We are meant to support one another and I believe what the Holy Spirit is calling us to now is a time for healing, rebuilding and reunification in the name of Jesus Christ who is the ultimate healer, restorer, and Redeemer.
After the beautiful service at Common Ground, I invited a couple of our neighbors to a picnic at another sister congregation, Fredericksburg Methodist Church, on their Green space.
I anticipated a handful of people coming to the event, with the same hospitality questions in mind. Low and behold, we had over seventeen people come to the Green for a fun community event.
We even had a loaves and fishes moment, where there was food for everyone to share. It was a beautiful event where our people got to play water balloon relays and participate in other field games. I even had the opportunity to introduce one of our youth members to other young people from the Methodist Church to hopefully help her build a network of support with peers her own age.
While it may feel uncomfortable at first, when we enter into spaces that feel unfamiliar, I truly believe this is where the Spirit can work best. Without this fluid engagement within three different faith communities, how could we build on these relationships that we seek to have with our neighbors? We need to play, eat, and sing together, to really build the bond of love and peace that Paul calls us to have with one another in Christian community.
Despite the walls we have built around ourselves, the grace of God seeks to tear them down.
This Thursday we will be creating another space for relationships to be built on common ground between our churches and our neighbors. Street Church will be hosting, leading and serving a new Thursday night Community Dinner format called: “Dinner Church.” Street Church members identified there was a need for more spiritual community between Sundays. We also wanted to bring back the infamous baked potato bar that FBC hosted in years past. In partnership with our Thursday Night Dinner Teams who seek to serve alongside our neighbors, we hope to give them a space to learn and grow in this meal ministry together.
It will be hosted at our sister congregation site, Fredericksburg Baptist Church, in the Farrell fellowship hall, which is accessible from Caroline Street on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays through the summer (with hopes of going weekly in the fall).
Our hope is that this will be a place where we can all come together, to feed our neighbors and to enjoy a new midweek “Dinner Church” service.
What is “Dinner Church,” you ask? It is a place where we can spend time discussing scripture at common tables, enjoy music, and break bread together. We hope you will join us on Thursday from 5-6 PM for Dinner Church, sponsored by Street Church. Set up will be at 4:00 pm and will be an open invitation for those who can join us to help.
In this new season, as we are coming back and figuring out what it means to be the Church again, let us not simply “do what we used to.” Let us imagine a new way. A way where we are all not only invited to the table, but a place where we recognize that we are stronger with our differences included at the same table.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
The Rev. Chelsea Morse is the Community Ministries Chaplain at Micah Ecumenical Ministries.
If you would like to get involved in Dinner Church or would like to learn more about how you can help us make this event a success, please reach out to Chelsea@dolovewalk.net