vignettes on unity and diversity from our week

One of the things that makes us tick at the Sanctuary is a passion for the church – not a church – but the whole church… in all its beauty and all its mess… especially when we see it truly come together.

There have been a range of beautiful images of that this week…

On Tuesday we welcomed substantial numbers of both newcomers and old friends through our doors to share pancakes.

Around lunchtime, there was a peak in the flow of visitors and we stood back and smiled as a group of people who had all been part of six months of united 24:7 prayer were reunited all together for the first time in a while.

There was prayer and there were warm greetings. And quite a lot of laughter.

Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Independent Pentecostals… who could tell which was which? Certainly none of us cared…

Yesterday we had an unusual time at our morning prayer and worship slot.

Unusually, we were focusing inward. It was a special day for the Sanctuary – our resourcing website was celebrating its 2nd birthday – and we wanted to mark the amazing journey its been on and all the beautiful ways God is using it to bless Christians from all over the world and almost every denomination and expression of Christianity…

We never know quite who is going to come through the door for worship… and we hadn’t advertised our special day yesterday. So imagine how delighted we were to celebrate our birthday with several Anglicans, a Methodist, a URC/Salvation Army member, some independent Pentecostals and a Roman Catholic.

10 people; 7 churches; 5 denominations. Lots of smiling faces!

Later on, we particularly reflected on the beauty of the moment where we all sang Tim Hughes’ ‘God of justice’ together – surely it was a glimmer of hope that we might just be starting to look like Jesus again?

And then this morning our free-form Friday worship focused on meditating on Psalm 27 together. Diversity and unity came together again and again in simple beauty…

Having read the psalm all together in the New International Version, we then each took a different version and compared it… then came back to share what had struck us. The King James Bible, Jerusalem Bible, New Living Translation, The Message and The Contemporary English Version brought together history and tradition with creativity and fresh expression.

And five different heads and hearts interacted uniquely with it all – each one enriching the others’ experience as a result.

Having listened to two songs inspired by the psalm, and before we prayed together in response to it all, we spent ten or fifteen minutes individually responding creatively to what we’d read.

What a beautiful picture… one person studying the concordance, several drawing, one making a mind map… all of them worshipping the same God with the same psalm in a completely unique way…

There are so many aspects of the Sanctuary that are an adventure – and this is just one of them – but it is surely one of our very favourites.

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