Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Body of Christ -- v. 1

Well, it's been awhile since I posted on my Music City blog. I've been busy and I had a full weekend, which I'd gladly have shared here on Monday if I'd had time. BUT THEN came last evening (Tue.). And thinking back on what's been going on in the past four or five days I concluded that I had experienced the Body of Christ in three wide-ranging manners! And so I'm posting three postings -- call them three verses -- one for each!

If you, dear reader, are unfamiliar with the concept of "Body of Christ", in a nutshell it's a metaphorical expression for the spiritual Church (contrasted with the visible, institutional church). In fact, one of the fifteen Talks in the "short course in Christianity" that make up the frame on which is hung the three-day weekend retreat variously called Cursillo, Walk to Emmaus or Kairos Weekend. It presents disciples of Jesus as being His body on this earth (while the risen body is at the right hand of Abba). Whenever I get a strong sense of the spiritual presence of our Savior & Lord during any gathering of people in His blessed name, I take it as an experience of what "Body of Christ" means!

If you've read my San Antonio blog you will know that I had such experiences frequently when attending Emmaus events (and when attending events of the prison version, Kairos). So far here in Nashville I've been unable to locate a weekly Reunion group to join, and I'd attended only one monthly gathering of the local Emmaus community (the Nashville Emmaus Community).

Until Saturday evening! Late last week I was able to arrange to get a ride with the Nashville Emmaus Lay Director Peter Cassidy and his wife Gwen. This particular monthly gathering was done jointly with the Highland Rim Emmaus Community, and was held southeast of Nashville, in the tiny village of Bell Buckle. Once we left IH-24 and traveled the several miles westward and northward to the village, we were treated to very pleasant vistas of rural Tennessee. Lots of farm, pastures, groves, cattle, and well-kept farmhouses and outbuildings. And the village itself was delightful, with most houses being the wonderful Victorian style popular a little over a century ago.

The Methodist Church itself is a red brick structure, but with grey stone (or textured concrete) round-top monumental tablets of the Ten commandments filling much of the wall facing the street. A major addition from the back of the church and not visible from the street included a fellowship hall and kitchen (and classrooms). This hall served as the location of our dinner. As with Emmaus gatherings back in texas, here there was plenty of food. Plenty!

We were early arriving at the church, so in addition to introducing myself to those already present, I explored the facility. The sanctuary, which dates back to the 1890s and is on the National Register, features pews in a semicircular arrangement. Behind them was a very old and atmospheric pipe organ. The sign next to the instrument revealed that the organ was built in 1890 and in 1932 was moved from West End UMC in Nashville to this little country church! Wow! a demonstration of the Body of Christ over the miles!

Into this delightfully "old-fashioned" setting ("old-fashioned" is not a pejorative to yours truly but rather a term of honor) the rest of the almost 100 attendees entered for the Emmaus worship. I was somewhat surprised that we used neither the "purple book" with its Emmaus order of worship nor the "Songs" book of Johann Anderson. But the general structure of the worship was definitely Emmaus! We began with several praise songs, lyrics of which were projected on a screen. There were several brief testimonies about "fourth-day" experiences (which isn't exactly a standard feature of monthly gatherings) and the host church's pastor gave the Fourth-Day Talk. She spoke of the recent passing of a pillar of the church and or Bell Buckle, and presented an uplifting testimony to the significance of the deceased pillar's impact (the church was apparently standing-room only for the funeral). There was a request from an Afro-American brother who will be Lay Director for a Men's Walk the Highland Rim Community will conduct in October. (I'll have to pray for guidance about whether I should be on the Team.)

All in all, this jaunt out into the country to where the Nashville Basin and the Highland Rim merge in lovely farmland and a lovely village for a sharing in the Body of Christ as expressed in the renewal movement known as Emmaus, was was wonderful blessing. And the first verse of a melodious, extended expression of that mystical-spiritual body. Praise be to our Lord!

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