This past Sunday, my wife Barbara and I left church for a quick lunch so that we could get back in time to enjoy Centro Victoria’s first church service, here at HPC at 1:00. They are not a new church, but they are new to our facility, and we are happy to have them.
Pastor Jon began the service with music, Scripture reading, more music, a devotion, then he turned it over to his father, Pastor Oliver, for the main message. Funny thing though… in spite of the fact that I took two years of Spanish in high school, I could not understand a word of it! I guess I’ve slept since then.
But here’s the deal… I didn’t need to understand the words, because the Holy Spirit was in the house. As we sat there, I joined in singing some of their hymns in Spanish. Bad Spanish, but Spanish nonetheless. Then, at one point, my eyes began to well up with tears. My heart was moved.
My heart was moved by a memory of standing in St. Ann’s church in Jerusalem. St. Ann’s was built about 1,000 years ago and is renown for it stunning acoustics. On a visit five years ago, there was a Korean group of Christians at the front of the church, singing hymns in Korean. After them, an Ethiopian church went up to sing hymns in their language.
In neither case could I understand a single word they were singing, but the Holy Spirit was singing within me. My only response was to drop to my knees, raise my arms, and praise our Almighty God in response to this universal act of worship. Couldn’t understand a word, but I surely understood every joyful noise.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. Worship in Korean, worship in Ethiopian, worship in English, worship in Spanish. It doesn’t matter. The Holy Spirit sings in ALL tongues!
Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:3-6:
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
When we witness the worship of Jesus Christ in a language that we don’t understand, we suddenly understand how broad, how wide, how deep, and how far our God can reach for those who love Him, no matter the voice conveying the message. The world suddenly becomes a much smaller place as He transcends geography, language, and culture, to meet ALL of us where we are, to bring us to where He is.
Gene Cook does a song called, “Don’t Put My God in a Box, He’s Much Bigger Than That.” God is, indeed, a BIG GOD with boundless arms of love. Let’s let Him out of our boxes so we can witness His awesomeness in action. In the lives of others, but also in our own lives. For me, I don’t want to miss a moment!
(By the way, every year I still take groups to St. Ann’s church in Jerusalem. And if it’s not crowded, our group goes to rotunda to worship our Lord with a song or two. Absolutely wonderful!)
God bless you all, and we hope to see you this Sunday!