When I was at a service at a Church here in America while at College, I couldn't help but think of St. Patrick's Church, which is a Church of Ireland/Anglican church, Holy Rosary, which is Catholic Church, and Hillside, which is and Evangelical church. I attended all of these at least once while I was living in Greystones, Ireland. I also thought of my home church which I grew up in.
No, I wasn't comparing them. I was merely overwhelmed at the thought that all these places, all these people, were worshiping God at that same moment with me. (lets put aside the time difference for the time being) They were praising the same God I was from across the pond. As I sang, they were singing. I could picture myself in each one of those churches. I remembered the people. I remembered singing and interacting with them.
You always hear about believers all over the world, but for me, the deep realization of that didn't hit until I went to Ireland. That is perfectly understandable. In fact, I believe it is impossible to fully comprehend that fact unless you've been overseas. Until you connect with a church body, experience their form of worship, and get to know a few people, you just don't have the ability to feel that in your core.
Now that I've been there, I could clearly imagine myself, there, praising the Lord with them. I could imagine our voices combining and spiraling like a tendril of smoke as an offering to the Lord. These people from different backgrounds, different beliefs, and different forms of worship, we were all worshiping the same glorious God.
I haven't spoken on here much about what I've learned from being in Ireland. However, this was one of the biggest things I came to realize while on the Emerald Isle. I always "knew" it, but until I was there and experienced worship in another culture and got to know Christians from a different culture, I didn't really understand it.
God is a Global God. We are a Global Church. Christians around the world from every denomination are united in the Worship of the Lord, who died and saved each one of us from our sins.
Another thing I learned from being over their is that we are called to be Global Christians.
When God left his heavenly splendor and came to earth. He took upon him the HUMAN.
Go back and re-read that slowly. As Christians, we hear that phrase far too often. Think about what it really means. What I discovered it means is this:
Jesus performed the greatest act of cross-cultural competence in the world.
Jesus left his heavenly culture and took on our human culture.
As Christians, we talk about being transformed into Christ's image and becoming more Christ-like all the time. Think about what that really means.
If one of the biggest things Jesus did was cross cultures, isn't one of the things we are called to be are Global Christians? Part of becoming like Christ is our ability to cross cultures effectively.
Crossing Cultures happen just by overseas. It is intention rethinking your way of thinking and taking on the other culture's thought process -- that is just one part of it.Crossing Cultures does not entail going overseas with American idea seeking to "save" the people of a different culture. It is leaving your Americanness behind and learning the other culture's ways.
It is seeing that different ways are not necessarily wrong ways. Something that is not broken does not need to be fixed.
Forcing American ideas on other cultures is one of the most harmful things we can do and is not effectively crossing cultures at all. It is basically the opposite of being culturally competent.
If we want to fully understand what being in the "image" of God is like, I think that means successfully crossing cultures. It is a long hard process that I've barely even started, but it is a glorious one which will reshape the way you see the world and Christianity.
I'm sorry for the long lecture. I just wanted to share a few of the things I learned.
In conclusion, here are two wonderful sermons from St. Patrick's Church in Ireland. (And aside from that, I love listening to these sermons because it is a full 20 minutes or so of the Irish accent.)
Choose Life (An even stronger accent :D)