WORCESTER, MA (07/20/2012) — For most churchgoers, Pentecost Sunday 2012 started out like every other Sunday. To the congregants of Manantial de Gracia in New Britain, it started out way earlier than normal. Rather than the typical 11:00 am service, church members, and friends united in the parking lot at 8:00 am, coolers in tow, ready for a new adventure. A change was brewing!
Expect the unexpected; “timing is the Father’s business” (Acts 1:7). On Pentecost Sunday the congregants of Lake View Congregational Church UCC in Worcester, Massachusetts, were preparing for a later than normal combined service at 11:00 am, rather than their customary 9:00 am and 10:30 services. Parishioners arrived early, to prepare for the fellowship later that afternoon.
Manantial de Gracia and Lakeview Congregational were intentionally changing their way of doing things. After many conversations and prayers, under the leadership of Pastors Maritza Angulo de Gonzalez of Manantial de Gracia and Pastor Robert Ochoa of Lake View, their churches had determined that they would become sister churches, forming an Intentional Covenant tied in bows of love. Members on each side anxiously wondered how this fit into God’s plan… And each side asked the unspoken question: ?Y nosotros cabemos? Will we fit? Or will we be too different one from the other?
Well, what a better time for the congregants to fellowship than Memorial Day weekend, when most would have Monday off?
How beautiful to see how two congregations from different states, with different pastors, different languages, and different worship styles, are united by God’s language of grace and love!
Manantial de Gracia is an intercultural, multilingual, and multiracial group of individuals who have decided to worship God together: believing in God and strengthening their ties to Him and each other, through a commitment to learning, prayer, and fasting, and a covenant to love each other.
Change was nothing new to Lake View, founded in 1890 and Open and Affirming since 2010. This group of believers does more than speak about welcoming others into their midst. They proclaim: “No matter who you are on life’s journey, you are welcome at Lake View.”
As the sanctuary began to fill, another surprise: wonder-of-wonders, a third church showed up: Pastor Danneza Torres and Iglesia Hispana de la Comunidad of Lowell, MA, a church blessed with an overabundance of youth who were excited to hear, speak, pray, worship and praise the Lord! What started out as a bow turned into a braid. As one congregant mentioned, “Esos son mayores, aquellos son jovenes, y pues los otros tienen una mezcla de edades! Pero todos llegaron preparados para adorar a Dios (They have elders, they have youth, they have a mixture of ages! But they all arrived prepared to worship God!)! Different ages, different ethnicities, different perspectives, ONE LOVE OF GOD!”
Preacher Elivette Mendez Angulo brought a message about God’s Love Letters to us, His people: all His people. The message was about Love and about mending past relationships, as the Apostles and the other 120 people must have done while praying in the Upper Room as they waited for the Holy Spirit.
The beauty of Acts 1 is not the fact that they waited, but rather how they waited, while crushed up in that Upper Room: as these people sat and waited for the Holy Spirit they prayed (v. 14); they studied Jesus’ words (v. 16); they put things in order (v. 26); but of all those things, the one that stands out to me is in relation to prayer. The Bible says that they were “together in prayer,” the King James Version says that they “all continued with one accord,” which means that they allowed God to mend some fences.
And when the service finished, each person excitedly turned to one another and wondered what could happen if they rubbed elbows with each other, studied the Bible, got organized, and prayed together, in one accord! EPIC!! Totally epic: the ways in which God can use us when we work together in one accord. Intentionally. Differently. Lovingly.
“Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'” God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!” (Ezekiel 37: 4-6)
Pentecost 2013 will soon come! And we can be reunited with each other: still different churches, but of one accord. Intentionally.
Elivette Mendez Angulo is Minister of Discipleship at Iglesia Manantial de Gracia in New Britain and a student at Hartford Seminary. As published in: http://www.ctucc.org/news/20120730_pentecost.html