We’re in the middle of setting up for the first of our Holy Week Services in our home town this week, where most of our local churches will come together to worship and remember the life changing events of the Easter Story.
This is one of my favourite weeks of the year. I love it because so many churches come together in unity to remember and celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and it's something that is somewhat rare I think, to see so many different churches and denominations do this. Although our home town isn’t that big and has had something of a troubled reputation due to many years of conflict during and even since the “troubles” here in Northern Ireland, but with regards to the events of Holy Week we have something to rightly be proud of I feel. Unity is such a powerful thing, especially with regards to worshipping God.
It's been my privilege to lead the worship at these services for over fifteen years now and during that time these services have built until they have had to be relocated to one of the largest venues in our town able to host them, which is the grand old church building of Shankill Parish Church of Ireland situated right in the middle of the town centre. A beautiful old building, with generations of town history connected with it.
It’s in a week like this, when I see so many different people from such varied church backgrounds, beliefs, and service tastes coming together to worship in unity, that I get excited. This is surely what church is about: togetherness. As a worship and song leader I feel the responsibility to try and lead these great gatherings as sensitively as I can, not trying to force either the new in place of the old or the old over the new, but to simply bring songs that will help us all connect with God. Worship should never be about either trend or tradition, but about heart and love. If we, as those who have the privilege and responsibility to lead songs and worship in our church services forget this, then we will be in great danger creating another reason for division when, I believe, God desires us all…everyone of us…to simply learn to love and be with one another under His love and in Jesus’ name.
Unity is precious.
When we as the human race learns to live together in true unity and peace, then I think we can begin to believe that heaven has come to earth; but until then we should see these local expressions of church unity for what I believe they are: incredibly profound statements of heavenly intent. And as far as I am concerned, may there be many more. :)
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.