Sunday, July 25, 2010

We Are the Family of God

There is an old song that say's:

We are the Family of God, yes we are the Family of God and we gather together to be one in Him, and we will bring light to the world. 

Something like that anyway, I tried to find it on Google but, alas Google failed me.

Song or not, these words ring as true as the bells here in Rome.  As I sat sipping on my cappuccino this morning waiting for church to begin listening to the bells of Rome I was saddened.  Because though the bells rang loud and clear, their message fell on mostly deaf ears.  No one around me even took notice, of the ding and dang and the bing, bing, bang competing for their attention.  Bells calling out reminding people of that now was the time to Worship.  But all over this vast city the cathedrals are nearly empty.  Empty of people, of passion and of purpose.

The church I have attended the weeks I have been here, is anything but empty.  Indeed it is filled to the brim, with 5 people sitting in pews made for 4 and a few chairs added at the end, leaving no room for personal space.  Personal space, is something most Americans value.  Not so here.  Which as I think about it in connection with the body of Christ is a beautiful thing.  You cannot come to church here and be alone, you may not have a pew or a row of theater seats to yourself.  You will not go unnoticed.   Is that not perhaps how it should be.  Both at church and at our home fellowship group (and many other day to day meeting's in Italy) it is customary to greet one another with a kiss on each cheek.   (I double checked with Sarah as to which cheek goes first, so as not to meet in the middle)

Friends let me tell you that this more than anything else thus far has been on my heart and mind.  All through the New Testament we see the instruction and mention of greeting each other with a holy kiss.  Up until my time in Haiti and now here, that seemed like one of those parts in Scripture that was cultural and did not apply to me, but here I am in the midst of a culture where this is still the norm.  I have been dwelling on this since my time in Haiti, where my first instinct was to dodge the germ ridden kisses, for fear of what I might catch, but my second instinct of politeness won out thankfully.  And the more time I spend greeting my brothers and sisters in Christ with a kiss the more I have come to appreciate this instruction.

As I spoke with Sarah about it she wisely pointed out that it is hard to come to worship holding a grudge here, because you know you will have to be kissing each person.  There is no avoiding the interaction.  Like I said above you will not have personal space, and I think Church, that this is something we ought to consider.  How beautiful it is to come into a community of believers, to be personally greeted, and stuffed into a pew with people, to feel instantly part of the whole, part of the family, part of the community, loved and acknowledged.  So perhaps even though it is not our American cultural norm it should in fact be a Christian cultural norm.  "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

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