It was only a couple of days ago that I began to grasp how quickly and widespread one's voice becomes with a blog. I know, I should have seen it earlier. It is after all via the WORLD WIDE web. Anyway, it made me think, there are probably pastors and others who are trying to be bi/multi-cultural in worship, or who are struggling to find answers around immigration, and thought, you know, for all the work I do in these areas, I sure haven't blogged much about it for people to know that.
On that note: Today we had a bilingual worship service. (We have two congregations--one that is Spanish speaking and one that is English speaking and to encourage fellowship, awareness, unity and community, we started doing bilingual worship together about every 8 weeks) Today was the 4th we have done since I have been at this church. The first was a prayer and healing service (the one where people walked out), the 2nd was for World Communion Sunday , the 3rd was for Christmas Eve where we did a Las Posadas Service, and the 4th was today as we celebrated "Golden Weds Sunday" (a celebration and renewal of vows for those couples who have been married for 50+ years--for which we had at least 15 couples).
I am grateful for wisdom I had received from Heidi Neumark (whose book "Breathing Space" I HIGHLY recommend). She had shared that her church had to do 8 bilingual services before they found the rhythm and balance that fit them. This has been helpful to share with our congregation as many struggle with the adjustment (including the power point people who try and create slides with translations and yet don't understand the language). Knowing that this new form of worship will take time to take hold and for all involved to feel honored, welcomed, and able to participate is a wonderful gift.
Today's service allowed me to finally see us moving forward on this front--(1) During the welcome my Senior introduced me (for the sake of visitors or late-arrival "snow birds") and welcomed the Hispanic congregation to the larger service at which point a man in the front row began to clap loudly. I was so moved by his act of hospitality and encouragement, I almost began to cry. Being together is about celebration and welcome of the other "half" (though percentage wise only 1/10th) of our church. We are two congregations but we are one church. And that man got it--and acted in a way that would encourage others to get it. God is moving in our church! (2) After service I had a couple of folks (non-Spanish speakers) come up and tell me how much they enjoyed the Spanish. They liked hearing the rhythm and smoothness of it. Praise Jesus!
Which is all to say, I am grateful for the ways the Holy Spirit is opening people up to one another and to new experiences and I pray that we might keep moving forward toward a Pentecost reality. Our next bilingual service will be Palm Sunday and then again for the celebration of Pentecost in May.
Note: If you, or your church, are interested in bilingual or multi-cultural worship (even if you are not a bilingual church) and would appreciate some resources or direction, I am happy to help in any way I can. I can send a sample liturgy, translated prayers, or song suggestions--even an intro into the concept of this *fusion* worship that would hopefully give insight into how to go about this.