Introductory Thoughts on Culture

Culture- that which defines a group of people, the way they think, their world view, the habits and practices they have, their holidays, their individual idiosyncrasies

What is your culture? No- don’t say you don’t have one- this is something like a personality- we all are blessed with this and it makes us unique.
I am a conservative Anabaptist. (Christian most importantly) I am a farm girl, living in the Shenandoah Valley. Talk about a cultural smorgasbord. It is good to analyze myself upon occasion. My way of life makes perfect sense to me. I know (for the most part) what is expected and acceptable: I know where it’s ok to wear barn boots (to the barn) and when dress shoes are appropriate. I know when it’s ok to buy baked goods at the Bakery and when it’s better to make them at home (if you at least remove the Wal-Mart sticker- that helps) I know that a card in the mail is a wonderful day brightener. I know that it’s fun to have company- but it’s best to have a phone call to arrange a visit. If your not planning to stay- just stop by on an errand- this rule is hits the gray area. I know that if someone invites you for a meal- it’s a good thing to take a small gift as a token of your appreciation. I know that when dessert is served, you must painstakingly wait until all guests are served, and the host picks up his fork. (Ice cream is the exception) I know that a proper greeting is “Hi how are you” and the correct answer is always “I’m fine, thanks. How are you”. This makes sense to me. This is how “we” do it.

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And guess what? “We” does not include include all the world. In fact, it doesn’t include many people at all. Maybe part of these would agree with your list- maybe not. I know for me it’s easy to get into the rut of assuming that “my way” is “the way”. SURPRISE- it’s not. There is so much to be gained by looking around us and appreciating each other for who we are. That’s not to say that as a Christian- I can fully embrace every cultural practice out there. Some things are wrong. We need to go to Scripture and examine things thru God’s Eyes and pray for wisdom and the ability to Love like He does.

I’ve been trying to sort out the difference in Culture and Traditions. In a lot of ways- they are the same. “We are shaped by culture, transmit culture, influence it and reshape it” as we pass it on to the next generation. (Thanks DNI workshop 2/15 for your wisdom on this subject) Tradition is “the handing down of beliefs, opinions, customs and stories, especially by word of mouth or practice.

I know that God loves different cultures. As I think about the differences in the worship services I’ve attended- can you imagine how much variety it is for Him when His children cry out to Him in their own unique way? This is a few random prayer times that I’ve experienced in the recent past…

Mississippi Southern Baptist prayer: The preacher is praying and the congregation is all joining in…. “And We ask- if there’s been anything ANYTHING yes anything,Jesus that has been shared today MmmHmm that isn’t purely Scriptural Yes Jesus We ask you to remove it and throw into the depths yes Lord of the sea That’s right the very depths, Praise Jesus….”

Latino Apostolic Pre-service Prayer: Everybody prays. Some standing, some kneeling. Everyone deeply involved in their own prayers. Praying audibly at the same time. Because of the language barrier- I don’t catch much, cept “Gloria a Dios” and “Cristo” and “Santo, Santo, Santo” (holy, holy, holy) The noise level rises and falls. Sometimes crying, sometimes, clapping… Worship

Amish House Church Service: Again a huge language barrier, but my wimpy back is relieved when everyone drops off of their backless benches to kneel for prayer. The prayer is led by a minister and goes on until my feet protest. Suddenly everyone scrambles to their feet and facing the back of the building for an unknown amount of time. And as the prayer concludes, everyone does a small knee bow, so the entire congregation appears to do a small hop. And the prayer concludes.

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Such a wide variety of people with very similar needs, expressing themselves through worshiping the same Almighty Heavenly Father.

 He Reigns by Peter Furler and Steve Taylor

It’s the song of the redeemed rising from the African plain. It’s the song of the forgiven drowning out the Amazon rain,the song of Asian believers filled with God’s holy fire. It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation, a love song born of a grateful choir.

It’s all God’s children singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns.”

Let it rise above the four winds, caught up in the heavenly sound. Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals to the faithful gathered underground. Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation, some were meant to persist.Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples, none rings truer than this.

All God’s children singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns, He reigns.”

And all the powers of darkness tremble at what they’ve just heard. ‘Cause all the powers of darkness can’t drown out a single word When all God’s children sing out, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns, He reigns.”

Blessings- Kendra

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