Have you ever taken a pilgrimage to the Holy Land? Every Christian should make an effort to see the land where our Savior Jesus Christ was born … where he lived, died, and rose again.
If you visit Israel, you will relive its miracles! On our last trip to the Holy Land, our group visited Gordon’s Garden Tomb, the spot where it is believed the greatest miracle of all time took place, the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
It was here at the Garden Tomb that we experienced a miracle that is not recorded in the Scriptures. Our group gathered in this beautiful garden with its amazing layout of trees, shrubs, and flowers. We sat on some garden benches in our own little covert to break bread together in remembrance of our Lord’s death. As we sat there, another group from another part of the world passed us, and another, and another, all going to their own little provided spot.
In preparation for the sacred moment, we sang together in English: “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross …” Then from another corner of the garden not far away, another group was signing the same hymn, but in German, and another group on the other side was singing in Spanish. There were several groups singing the hymns of the faith in their own language.
Here in the Garden we came from different countries with marked differences in culture, language, and dress, but we were united around the Cross. Whatever sin had done to divide people to the point of bloodshed and war, it was evident from this experience in the Garden, that the Cross has the power to bring people together in unity.
The vast majority of the congregation at National Wesleyan Church are of African descent, but we come from many different nations with distinct cultural idiosyncrasies: America, Antigua, Anguilla, Barbados, Belize, Canada, The Cameroon, Garner, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, Sierra Leone, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Martin, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, and Norway.
Every Sunday, we celebrate our similarities and our differences. In some regions the colloquial response is sometimes “Ya Mon,” in another it is “Oho.” In one region a certain fruit is called “genip” in another region that same fruit is called “ackee.” There are differences of dress, as well as temperamental differences. In one region they are fun loving and everything seems to be a carnival, while in another region there is strong individuality.
The people from National Wesleyan come from backgrounds as different as the color of the rainbow; for this reason, our worship celebrations and expressions of love are just as colorful. Some love the old hymns, and a more quiet liturgical approach to worship; still others like the upbeat of modern choruses and the free outburst of praise and spontaneity.
What then unites us together in one common bond? It is our undying love for one Savior, Jesus Christ. It is our common faith in the living God. It is our common passionate desire to share our faith and help bind up the wounds of the world.
It is a known fact that in marriage, even when it is between two people of the same race, it requires expressions of selflessness and an atmosphere of acceptance to make the marriage work harmoniously; and in the same way, it takes the effort of selflessness, and the creation of an atmosphere of acceptance to make any relationship work.
In church life today the advocates of homogeneous church-growth principles such as, “People feel more comfortable with people like themselves,” lends itself to the continuing separation of believers along lines of race and class, and certainly this does not foster the spiritual exercise of selflessness and the expression of unconditional love that it takes to bring about togetherness and harmony.
It is our prayer at National Wesleyan Church, that God will make us instruments of His peace and reconciliation.
This article written by Rev. Dr. Ira Moulton Taylor was first published in “The Wesleyan Advocate,” March 1998, while serving as pastor of National Wesleyan Church, near Washington, D.C. It is shared in his memory and celebrates the multicultural influence Dr. Moulton had in ministry, uniting people under the umbrella of Christ’s love.