The Celebration Place

No Longer a Divided Space, Now It’s a Celebration Place!

Sunday Scripture

Sunday morning at Spruce Head Community is a sociological patchwork. Members with advanced degrees worship cheek-by-jowl with high school dropouts. Successful businessmen toss their offering into the same receptacle as welfare recipients, and the octogenarian great-grandmother grins at the antics of tiny, scampering escapees from the nursery. I can’t help but picture our Lord’s smile as he regards our unlikely gathering, and yet he foreshadowed this very thing when he prayed for us on his way to the cross:

“May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.”

John 17:21

A Place that Feels Like Home

We really do need each other in our living out of “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Christians who are living in the on-ramp toward faithful church attendance and those of us who are standing along the way cheering them forward are both in a unique position to put the beauty and uniqueness of God’s love on display. Finding community can be a long and challenging process, but the rewards are worth the wait.

Robert Frost wrote a poem in which he calls home “the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Because I have been “taken in” so faithfully, it’s now a joy to persevere in the work of making my own church home feel like home to others. Community is the sandpaper by which we find ourselves continually being re-made and re-formed, for the truth of the gospel is best understood in terms of our yearning to belong, our struggle with homesickness, and the ache of all our longings for home.

Community is the sandpaper by which we find ourselves continually being re-made and re-formed.

A Celebration Place

One Sunday morning when all the Sunday school classes landed in a heap for a multi-generational assembly followed by muffins, I read aloud from The Celebration Place, Dorena Williamson’s anthem to the Body of Christ gathered.  How refreshing to share the truth that worship (and worshipers!) will look and participate differently in other places!

Here in rural Maine where a choir is as rare a sight as a brown face, Erin Bennett Banks’s vivid illustrations enriched the text, and I was pleased to hear adult chuckles accompanying the page about rappers “nodding to the beat” while “old folks stomp their feet.” Together, author and illustrator announce the church as “no longer a divided space. Now it’s a celebration place!”

With so many fractures in our world upon which we can distance and divide, the pursuit of unity in the Body of Christ is difficult but crucial. The work toward delightful diversity done today in God’s House is affirmation of the truth that we are better together, and it is preparation for the day when we will join with all nations God has made to glorify his name, for he is great and worthy of our celebration.

Holding you in the Light,

Work toward delightful diversity done today in God’s House affirms the truth that we are better together. It is preparation for the day when we join with all nations God has made to glorify his name. He is worthy of our celebration.

It’s Not too Late to Begin Your Celebration of the Light this Advent Season

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30 thoughts on “No Longer a Divided Space, Now It’s a Celebration Place!”

  1. I had to chuckle as I read about the octogenarian great-grandmother enjoying the antics of an oh so darling toddler…yes, I did. Perhaps, this is how our LORD chuckles at our joy-filled antics as we celebrate his precence? May the LORD’s desire for us to be united as one come true.

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  2. Sometimes what people prefer in their styles of worship–particularly the music–gets in the way of developing diverse congregations. Would that all of us could give a little and embrace variety, while reigning in our preferences. For example, those who prefer classical music don’t HAVE to worship to Bach; those who prefer Rock don’t HAVE to worship to songs by Skillet. You are so right, Michele: God must surely smile when we gather in unity–young and old, rich and poor, light- and dark-skinned, all together. We have so much in common as Christian brothers and sisters!

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  3. As in life as well as Church because the stranger we meet, we know not where they stand on their walk or not walk with Christ. As he says, Love binds. I love Christmas time because it does bring out the best in people on the street with smiles and gestures of you go first. Sometimes thought, it does become a standoff as each is yielding. 🙂

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  4. I love the idea of community acting as sandpaper to constantly form (and smooth) us! Some of us are rougher grades of sandpaper than others—but we all have a place in refining each other.

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  5. I love the quote by Robert Frost which you shared. This morning as I sat reflecting on your post, I also desire for my home to be a place where others will always know they will be welcomed and taken in.

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  6. Community is such an important thing and embracing our diversity really enriches all of us. The lockdowns of the last year really brought home to me how church was all about community and not the building. I like the thought that community is like sandpaper re-making and re-forming us. #MischiefandMemories

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  7. I have a Kindle copy of the new Suzanne Stablie and am enjoying it. I love her podcast. A Celebration Place sounds wonderful. Hope you enjoy Once Upon a Wardrobe, I think you will.

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  8. I was just thinking recently that all who do battle over secondary matters on social media need to remember that all believers are going to be in the same heaven. It would be nice if we started acting like it here.

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  9. I like that positive image of sandpaper! Embracing our different styles and tastes and experiences makes for a richer community. Harmony requires different notes and we can have unity and harmony at the same time. That is the goal, I think. Lovely post this week!

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