side by side

Part of the relocation process for our family has been finding a new faith community to connect with. We’re pretty committed to the idea of living “locally” as much as we can within a city the size of Brisbane, so we have landed at Toowong Uniting Church – a good bunch of people to hang out with, and very close to home.

Yesterday the normal 9am service went by the wayside, the congregation joining with the Brisbane Korean Uniting Church for a shared service – the first for quite a few years apparently.

It’s an interesting experience, sharing in multilingual worship, with prayers, bible readings, sermon all translated and shared twice (in English and Korean).  The team putting the service together had done a good job to ensure everybody could participate in their own language, and with a service that while perhaps slightly different to the regular pattern for both congregations, was familiar enough to satisfy most.

As a participant, it didn’t seem that hard or require much in the way of compromise for me.

We sang, encountered scripture, shared in prayer and then communion – all pretty standard stuff for those used to participating in Christian worship.

All it took was a little patience while the words were repeated in another language (and though I had no capacity to understand, I really enjoyed listening), and some small adjustments to “my” usual patterns and preferences. To be honest, I even enjoyed the points of difference.

Best of all, we kicked back with a shared lunch afterwards….and while I like the odd egg and lettuce sandwich or piece of quiche that are the hallmarks of a church lunch….the Korean community brought some truly delicious food to the table!

As we joined in (the kids enjoyed it I think as much as I did), I couldn’t help but contrast this happy community with the disgraceful public discourse around asylum seekers in Australia.

Why is it so hard for our nation to make some small accommodations to welcome those who have no place to call home?

Why do we continue to allow our political leaders to vilify and use those who are on the run for political ends?

Why do we lower ourselves with our inability to offer welcome and hospitality – maybe making a few small changes to our own patterns and preferences to accommodate our neighbour?

I’m not seriously comparing a short suburban multi-cultural church service with the complexities of international refugees, or even domestic politics.

I’m just saying….it can’t possibly be as hard as we make it (or allow it to be made).

Can it?


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