Monday, January 08, 2007

Guatemalan Prayer

We attended a Guatemalan Mennonite church yesterday. It was on the small side, perhaps 50 people, and wasn’t much like other North American Mennonite services I’ve been to. For one thing, the only Yoders and Benders there were the ones we brought (Kent and Alissa, respectively). However, it was not terribly different from black church services I’ve been to in the US, where there is a lot of good, soulful singing at the beginning, a warm welcome for visitors, an offering, and a pretty long sermon. It was longer for me than most because I don’t understand Spanish so well, so I had to rely on feeling the spirit of the congregation rather than any actual cognitive input. But the spirit was strong, and it provided pretty good therapy for an uptight, white guy who likes to think like he’s in control and knows what is going on.

The one aspect that was new and meaningful to me was the congregational prayer towards the end. The pastor started the prayer, but then everyone else jumped in with prayers and pleadings and praises. I think. Again, it was all in Spanish. But it was a new experience – being inside a cacophony of voices, soft at first, but growing ever louder and urgent, seeking God. I imagined this is what it would be like to be God – to hear the endless cries of his children. It was great to part of it, but I later thought that it would probably suck to be God. So many people need so many things, usually because so many other people are cruel or mean or uncaring. Of course, I suppose it would be worse if there was nothing but silence.

In any case, I think we should do sharing time in my own congregation that way – everyone just start talking and sharing at the same time, with those who really want to be heard having to yell. It would never drag on for 20 minutes that way – 3 minutes, tops.

Speaking of prayer, I re-learned a great meal prayer that I had heard once before but forgotten. There is a tune that goes with it, but it might only work in Spanish:

Thank you God for our food
Give bread to those who hunger;
and a hunger for justice for those who have bread

1 comment:

Brownie said...

The service sounds a lot like a Pentecostal service(of which I have attended many), after all, they were speaking in tongues (or at least one YOU couldn't understand, haha).

P.S. Sent my manuscript off today.
(Hope, hope)