One of the joys of vacation is the opportunity to worship in places that are new and unfamiliar to me while being very aware that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Lee Ann and I always look around at the churches close to the places where we stay. In our first week it meant attending the Second Congregational Church of Jeffersonville, Vermont.
This church had some different customs in worship. For instance, we sang more worship music that were choruses from the Taizé community, which both of us knew from various worship and retreat settings over the years. It was a small congregation in a small worship space so at the end of the service they sang the benediction to one another by gathering in a circle around the pews and holding hands. Afterwards we joined their fellowship time and got to sample fiddlehead quiche. Fiddleheads are early spring greens that are highly prized. They are hard to find and their locations are kept secret like morel mushroom hunters in our part of the world.
The second week we attended the United Methodist Church of Lenox, Massachusetts. It was a special Sunday in many ways. We participated in both sacraments of The United Methodist Church—baptism and communion. The young boy being baptized was part of a family from Ghana so the pastor made a point of making them welcome by taking the offering the way they do in Ghana. The congregation brings the offering forward, dancing and singing along the way. A song was played that the family knew and the rest of us joined in the dancing and clapping. How joyous! It was also Pentecost so we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all people so that the Gospel can be preached everywhere.
Both weeks we were welcomed and invited to participate in all that was going on. We did not feel like strangers there. We felt like distant cousins come to visit and welcomed with love and joy. Some things were familiar. Others were not. We didn’t always know when we needed to read aloud and when we didn’t. None of that mattered. We experienced the family of God, whose members love Jesus and gather to worship our awesome and powerful, loving and merciful God who has done so much in our lives already and who has promised to do so into eternity. That is all that mattered. Thanks be to God!