Can Church be Wonderful and Weird?

I wasn’t able to join the community at Emmaus Church in Lincoln on Sunday but I did watch the teaching online.  The message was called Less Weird, More Wonderful and Nathan mentioned three things that we do every Sunday at Emmaus that might seem a bit weird but are actually quite wonderful:

Passing of the Peace – This is a 10-15 minute time after the sermon in which we have the opportunity to “pass peace” to one another.  I’ll admit that it sounds weird.  Here’s what is wonderful about this time.  Lots of churches have a time built into the service to “say hi to a few people next to you.”  While this is a fine practice, the passing of the peace is different.  In Matthew 5 Jesus teaches his disciples, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to that person; then come and offer your gift.”  This is what’s the passing of the peace.  It’s an opportunity to seek people out and initiate reconciliation before receiving communion.
The Long Prayer Before Communion – I’ll be the first to admit that whenever I get together with a group of people and we say something in unison, it can feel weird.  At Emmaus, we do this every week.  Right before communion, we pray aloud as a community.  Weird? Perhaps.  Wonderful? Absolutely.  Here’s what is wonderful.  If you believe that there is something significant and powerful that happens in communion, if you believe that you are actually encountering Jesus on some mysterious level, then you better take the time and care to pause and focus on preparing yourself for this moment. Praying the same prayer as a community can feel tired and monotonous, but if we allow ourselves to truly enter into the experience, it will come alive.  Nate made an excellent point when he compared this practice to saying, “I love you.” I tell my wife and my kids that I love them every day.  If the routine of saying this starts to feel tired or mundane, the challenge is not to stop saying it, but to mean it every time.
Lighting Candles – If you have ever been to Emmaus Church, you have probably seen lots of people lighting candles.  When you see this, you may think it’s a bit weird.  Here’s why I think it’s more wonderful than weird.  These candles aren’t magic.  When they were first introduced at Emmaus, they were really on option for the children to have a physical representation of their prayers being lifted up to God.  As it turns out, they’ve proven to be a beautiful and significant experience for adults as well as children.  The thinking is simply that the lighting of a candle might possibly help you have a physical representation of a spiritual reality.  They might help you to engage in something that is otherwise very difficult to conceive by making it somewhat physical.  

What did we leave out?  Come join us on a Sunday morning at 10 at Emmaus Church in Lincoln, CA and let us know what elements of the worship service you find to be both weird and wonderful.
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