Chante Hopkins, a former member of our youth group now living in Washington, D.C. after her Howard University education, wrote the funniest social media post a few weeks ago. “I wanna go to church so bad, Lord knows I do, but it’s the first Sunday of football and you know black pastors don’t end church at 1pm knowing dern well kickoff is about to happen! Where is the nearest Presbyterian church or something?!” From visiting our church she knows that some Sunday services end almost precisely at noon while others, like those at her home church, can easily go past 2:00. Not only do the lengths of worship services vary, but so do the tone and vigor.
Eighteen years ago when several Farmville churches used to participate in pulpit exchanges an African-American minister preached at First Baptist Church. Our neighbor Bruce Pope described what happened that Sunday as only he could. “Not a single person was sleeping at First Baptist but I guarantee you there were some folks asleep at his church.” There are vast differences in preaching lengths/approaches and worship styles. Bobby Dunn loves to tell Rocky that we need more “amens” and excitement at Farmville Presbyterian.
Despite the variety in our preferred forms of worship, Christians maintain a bond with fellow believers that cannot be surpassed. Our unity in Christ transcends where we choose to glorify God on Sundays or Saturdays and the key is that we welcome all to join us. We should “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:3-6)
Charles Spurgeon, a famous Baptist preacher, had this to say about a priest in the Church of England who was known for his piety. “Where the Spirit of God is there must be love, and if I have once known and recognized any man to be my brother in Christ Jesus, the love of Christ constraineth me no more to think of him as a stranger or foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the saints. Now I hate High Churchism as my soul hates Satan; but I love George Herbert, although George Herbert is a desperately High Churchman. I hate his High Churchism, but I love George Herbert from my very soul, and I have a warm corner in my heart for every man who is like him. Let me find a man who loves my Lord Jesus Christ as George Herbert did and I do not ask myself whether I shall love him or not; there is no room for question, for I cannot help myself; unless I can leave off loving Jesus Christ, I cannot cease loving those who love him.”(The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. XII, 6)