As we prayerfully near the other side of this pandemic, how can we worship together despite our differences? Here are some steps we can take.
Make space for grace.
Making space for grace is to treat others the way Jesus treats us. It is not an escape from individual accountability. It is freedom from the burden of bitterness and animosity, freeing us to love more.
In this space of grace, there is the freedom to live as our authentic selves created in God’s image. This freedom includes the responsibility to encourage each other. There is room to fall and start fresh without the weight of judgment.
Learn to see others, not just by the choices they have made, but by the choice Jesus made to sacrifice his life for all.
Welcome others and remain cordial and respectful, without trying to rewrite their agenda to match ours.
Give each other space to confront uncertainties on our own terms, without our fears being manipulated for political advantages.
Support the good others do.
Give each other room to let God change us in his ways, and not our own images.
Grace is the chance to live a wounded life wrapped in the perfect love of Jesus.
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Appreciate God-given differences.
Differences are signposts pointing the way through uncharted territory. Diversity stretches us to see more of God and his work in the world. People see the world from the vantage point of their religion, culture or race and ask questions from those angles.
Our religious setting may have taught God primarily is transcendent. God is transcendent, and he is more. He also is with us. He is here and there and everywhere between.
Even if other people have questions about God we were taught not to ask, we end up seeing he is bigger than a single set of teachings. Diversity enlarges our view of God beyond our own limited space.
Our differences are points of human interest and heavenly importance.
Get to know one another.
We may never understand each other fully, but we can know each other better.
In the nontraditional setting where I minister—a rehabilitation hospital—I always am amazed how strangers interact without religious, political and racial interference. When we meet, we do not throw our baggage at each another’s feet. We understand we need help and that working together can lead us there.
We can learn from each other how to live through difficult experiences. Sharing our stories is an offering of hope. Listening to others is to receive that offering and join in working together to live better.
An empty tomb of endless possibilities stands between heavenly dreams and harsh realities. The stone is rolled away, and the eternal light of Christ shines in our darkest places. Between fear and hope, worship is a sacred space where God can heal us together.
There is plenty of room between the fearful uncertainties of now and the hope of “not yet” to worship and work together in different ways. The word of God is our meeting place to listen and learn how to live better together.
Our next steps can move us farther apart along the same old divides or lead us closer in new ways. Together, we can heal old wounds and stretch across vast distances to reach new opportunities.
Mahcoe Mikel holds a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree from Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary and serves as the campus minister at Westpark Springs Rehabilitation Hospital in Richmond, Texas. The views expressed are those solely of the author.