Here I am again: cleaning, packing, and wrapping up loose ends so I can head out for yet another conference. I don’t really feel like it, I kind of just want to stay here and reconnect again with my community…
But let’s back up a bit. Let’s go back to Oaxtepec, Mexico, where I recently attended the 2015 World Assembly (WA) of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (the international organization comprised of groups such as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship). Here's a photo. Can you spot me?
What an incredible experience indeed! I could go on and on, and will if you give me a chance. For now I’d like to highlight one particular lesson.
We are family! (perhaps that song is not theologically correct, but that line started playing in my head).
Yes, we know this. On Sunday we demonstrated family in our post-service family meeting (Annual General Meeting.) Our Oikos communities demonstrate family on a weekly basis. Groups like the graduate-student fellowship with IVCF and University Christian Ministries Core Groups demonstrate family. But it is even bigger than that - so much bigger. At WA I joined our BIG family. I witnessed incredible love, generosity, diversity, and acceptance; I heard songs, stories, and prayers from circumstances I cannot imagine myself; and I got to pray, worship, learn, hear from God, and break bread with members of our family from 170 nations.
So, back to the beginning. Here I am. A few days post-WA and feeling a bit of that post-camp letdown syndrome. I am preparing to leave my community/family yet again for a conference in Massachusetts.
That’s when God reminds me about the symphony.
(I might be mixing metaphors)
At WA, Darrell Johnson shared a metaphor that has stuck with me.
What Paul is calling us to (in Philippians 1:27-2:11), what Jesus is praying us into, is harmony.
Living in harmony with each other’s unique experience of and expressions of Jesus; working together in different ways toward the same goal – the glory of God and the transformation of the world.
The Gospel has the power to pull us together into a symphony.
Members of a symphony do not play the same instruments.
Nor do the members all play the same notes.
Most importantly, they do not play their own compositions!
What they do is play the same musical score, under the direction of the same conductor.
“The result is not unison, but harmony” (so Stuart Briscoe, Bound for Joy).
I wonder, 'why am I looking at this trip as if I am going to be away from my family?' And realize that I’m just going to visit another part of my family. I can go have ‘symphony practice’ while I’m in Massachusetts!
So that’s what I did. I contacted the graduate-student fellowship at the university in Massachusetts and got to spend an evening In ‘symphony practice’ with a dear sister over there – it was a great encouragement to both of us! I have since decided to do this whenever I am in a new place – and it has been an incredible blessing to me and also to those whom I have met. People have been surprised, commenting, ‘well I’ve never thought of doing that, just calling up a church and getting connected.’
If you are staying in town a few days and have an aunt, cousin, sibling in that town – would you think it odd to contact them? So, why not do the same with our extended family, or, to mix the metaphor, with members of our symphony.
We are like a symphony, with many instruments playing many notes, but we are united by one score. We bring the sweet melody of heaven to Earth – not we as individuals, but we as a collective, a body, a symphony. This picture is something I drew when reflecting on this metaphor.
We are part of a symphony that is so much greater than just our city, our church, our country. This is an international symphony and even if we do not share any common experiences, or speak the same language, we do play the same musical score and we do follow the same conductor.
I’ve never played in a symphony, but I imagine that the more you get to know your fellow musicians, the more you are able to play in harmony. The more we are harmonizing, the more we get to glorify the conductor.
Thus I exhort you – what are you doing to harmonize? How are you connecting with your fellow musicians? How are you participating in this international symphony? This could be here at home, it could be something random like me connecting with ‘strangers’ when I’m away. Or something else. What creative ways have you found to connect? I’d be happy to hear them!
Laura is a proud Dutch-woman from Saanichton, BC. She has been part of the family for as long as she remembers, and has been part of the Redemption Church community since 2012. She is also passionate about advocating for human dignity and occupational justice, and is doing her PhD in the area of blindness in the hopes of advocating for change. She loves to make food for people, play games, walk (fast) with a friend, dance and laugh – if you like any of those things, give her a ring!