When I was in Seminary I was blessed with the wonderful opportunity to attend a Faith-sharing seminar with the World Methodist Evangelism Institute in Delhi India. I was able to have a lot of really cool experiences while I was there: I saw the Taj Mahal, I visited several temples, ate a lot of good food, and I met a lot of really cool people who are striving to share the Gospel there. But the one thing that I did while I was there that really stuck out to me was worshiping with a local congregation.
The service was in Hindi, and while I have worshiped in places where the language has been different, it's a bit easier to pick up on European languages than it is to pick up on an Asian language. I will admit, that for most of the service, I had no idea what was going on. The congregation would sing and I would attempt to hum along, they would sit and I'd quickly sit down. There was a sermon that lasted about an hour of which I could understand absolutely nothing. People would laugh at different parts and I'd join in the laughter as if I knew what was going on.
At one point I looked around and realized that everyone had their heads down and were speaking what must have been a common prayer. So I bowed my head and as I sat there, praying my own prayer along with them, I was suddenly aware that something had changed. I still, of course, could not understand the words but somewhere in there I heard something inherently familiar. I looked around at everyone else who was worshipping with me and said to myself, “That’s the Lord’s Prayer.” I started with the second petition of the familiar prayer and began to say it along with everyone else except in my own language. When I came to the end, there was sort of a sudden silence around me. I realized that we had all finished at the same time.
This was not a case of my somehow miraculously understanding a language that I did not know. It was, instead, a hearing of an incredible rhythm that runs beneath all language
and connects us all. That rhythm is the Spirit of God. I understood in a new way that day the way that we are connected all across the world. Regardless of our differences, there is one common voice that connects us all, if we will only listen.
This Sunday, October 1, we will celebrate World Communion Sunday along with Christians all over the world. World Communion Sunday reminds us that as we worship together in East Cobb, there are Christians all across the world who are worshiping as well, that as we approach the table to partake of the wondrous gift that is the body and blood of Christ, that there are others all across the globe receiving the same means of grace. When we claim at communion that we are not approaching Mt. Zion's table, or a United Methodist table, but rather we are approaching Christ's table, and everyone is invited, we are proclaiming the universality of the church and the Kingdom of God. No matter what language you speak, what customs you adhere to, what your nationality is, or what your past is, Christ's table is long enough for everybody to have a place.
Praise be to God. Amen.
Rev. Cassie Rapko
Photos courtesy of Rev. Rapko depicting the Methodist Church of Dehli.