Creating Communion

July 03, 2013

We often hear that "faith without works is dead." Perhaps also we should chant that "worship without community is dead." After all, the two great commandments are to love God and to love neighbor. Communion with God naturally leads to communion with others. This morning at the Annual Gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), a few hundred Baptists from around the world gathered together for worship in many languages. Perhaps in those moments of broken communication we best unite for worship, almost like on Pentecost Sunday. The theme of the worship service, "The Disfigured God," brought our attention to the importance of considering Jesus on the cross bearing our brokenness. As preacher Joel Gregory from the United States stated in his sermon, it is this disfigured God that refigures us (the photo is one I took of Gregory preaching). Leading the worship service was Merlyn Hyde-Riley of Jamaica, with scriptural passages read in English by Reid Trulson of the United States and in Haitian Creole by Jean Admettre of Haiti. For the music, we sang one song from the Caribbean, one song from Ghana, and one song from the United Kingdom. Words for the latter song were printed in four languages - as were the words for the responsive readings - which resulted in the four languages mixing together throughout the room.

For most of today I left the resort hotel to attend a Communications Training Seminar sponsored by the BWA and the Jamaican Baptist Union. Three dozen Jamaicans gathered together with three Africans and me. I had the privilege of leading a session at the seminar on "Writing skills - Press releases and news stories." I enjoyed sharing and the discussion that arose, and I hope it helped those in attendance gain some practical skills on how to better get the word out. As I shared with them, I believe communication efforts for churches and ministry organizations are sacred acts and find it quite fitting that in English communication is linguistically similar with community and communion. The other two presenters were: Maya Thomas, a Jamaican general manager of a radio station (the photo is one I took of Thomas during her presentation); and Eron Henry, a Jamaican who now lives in the United States where he serves as the Associate Director of Communications for the BWA. I learned from both presentations, and thoroughly enjoyed the time to hang out with Jamaican Baptists during small group breakouts, coffee breaks, and lunch.

All this week at the Annual Gathering there exists moments at least three times a day when people from different countries join each other around a table for a meal. Eating together seems to be a significant part of communion (not just the Lord's Supper kind of communion but also the communing together that rests at the heart of creating community). Thus, we worship God not only with prayers, but also with our fellowshipping with one another. And so for me, a highlight of this week will be when I left the resort hotel to spend the day at a local church with Jamaican Baptists to eat, fellowship, and talk about communication (the photo is of me at the church). You can see more photos I snapped during the morning worship and the seminar here.