Sunday, May 31, 2009


(written by Tim)

It wasn't the sound of a "mighty rushing wind..." or maybe it was. It was the organ in the Notre Dame Cathedral that we were listening to as we crowded in for the 11:30 am "international service." We soon found out that "international service" meant that there were a few English phrases thrown into the service a couple of times in the midst of the liturgy.

While this could have meant sitting there for an hour being mind-numbingly bored by the pantamiming going on up at the high altar while our kids squirmed in the tiny space we had to share as a family... it really was not that type of an experience at all. Instead it felt like true Pentecost.

It began with the procession. The chior that consisted of some of these young French people who we have been seeing all over the city... running around, smoking cigarettes, dressed in some fashion that I hope we won't see coming to America next spring. Only this time they were wearing choir robes and singing with such amazing beauty and effort and clarity. For me, I didn't need to know what words they were singing- my heart was in tune. They were worshiping our Great God and inviting me in to do the same.

Then came the priest with the incense. It made me remember the joke about the guy in the dress with the smoking purse... a little too irreverent... but then I notice what he was doing with it. He was purifying the place. He was making the place smell good, he was preparing the congregation to be a worthing offering for our Lord. Suddenly it made me remember why I was there in the first place. I was there to give God my worship.

Then our priest began to speak. I think he was from Africa. But when he spoke, he spoke in eloquent French. And then he stopped. Then he spoke in German and stopped. Then he spoke in Spanish then he stopped. Then he spoke in English... "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit...Amen." And I thought, "yup...this is exaclty where I am suppossed to be this Pentecost." Here in this church surrounded by people of so many different tongues (the Italian lady sitting next to us was so kind to give the kids life savers to keep them passified) being led by an African priest. I was reminded that I was worshiping a God who transcends any language barriers. And while I was thankful for the occasional English phrase, I realized that Pentecost was not really so much about the people hearing gospel in thier own particular language. It was bigger than that. It is about a God who could go deeper than language, right down into the heart where the language is more about yearnings and groanings. A God who can come into the midst of a place that we guard so tightly and remind us how much He loves us and how worthy He is of our worship.

I needed this experience. And I thank God for it.

NOTE - we're off to Taize in about 3 hours... we will update you when we get back.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I feel moved just reading your account. Must have been 100x more than that for you being there.


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