Sunday, March 02, 2008

We're Different, We're The Same

We went to church today at Teusaquillo Mennonnite Church in Bogota. This is the very same church featured in the latest issue of The Mennonite on developing spiritual roots, which focuses on the story of Juan Gomez. He was on the run from paramilitary troops in Colombia and showed up at Teusaquillo, who took him in, and eventually helped him make his way to Canada as a political refugee. It underscores how Colombian churches are tested in their commitment to peacemaking in ways that North American churches can hardly imagine.

Our hosts translated much of the service in real-time, so I was able to mostly follow along. It’s always interesting to note ways in which we are the same and ways in which we are different (First Mennonite of Urbana-Champaign and Teusaquillo):

  • Heartfelt sharing by people describing God working in their lives (same)
  • Laying on of hands during prayer for those whose needs are desperate (same)
  • lots of verbal encouragement during corporate prayer, like “Amen” and “Si, Senor” (different)
  • Communion where everyone is invited to the table (same)
  • Prayers for kids who need operations (same)
  • Prayers for family members who have been kidnapped (obviously, different)
  • Jokes masquerading as announcements (same)
The latter was actually a nice respite from the serious social problems the congregation has to face everyday. A guy stood up and announced that he had two plots of land sell, and also, that he had a 79 year-old uncle in Miami who was looking for a wife, and if anyone in the congregation was interested, to let him know.

The sermon was delivered by (I think) the president of the Mennonite Seminary, which is right there in the same building as the church, and Justpaz. The message was that Lent is more than avoiding bad habits, but about preparation for what Jesus invites us to. It is a time to review whether we are doing what Jesus wants and expects of us, like being peacemakers, even in the face of violence and dissappearings. Also, Jesus’ peace is not the world’s peace. The world's peace is absence of conflict, but real peace comes from within by God to practice in our community. At least that is what my notes say, after the double translation from Spanish to English to my tired brain.

Finally, I understood almost nothing in the bulletin, except one item which revealed one way in which Colombian Mennonites are ahead of many CU Mennonites:

POR FAVOR APAGUE SU CELULAR para no interrumpir su comunion con Dios ni la de los demas.”

I understood the intent, but using Babelfish for a direct translation yields a Hannibal Lector-like pronouncement:

PLEASE IT EXTINGUISHES ITS CELLULAR one not to interrupt his comunion with God nor the one of demas."

I'm hoping Greg Springer or Eric Sink can provide a less creepy translation.


Next Sunday, we’ll be at El Divino Redentor, our sister church.

    4 comments:

    brownie said...

    "Please turn off your cell phone, so as not to interrupt God's (or Holy) Communion." is the first part. What a "dema" is I'm not sure.

    Dan S said...

    Shoot - I totally forgot you knew Spanish, brownie.

    That seems like a nicer message than what babelfish spit out...

    Robert Sievers said...

    “POR FAVOR APAGUE SU CELULAR para no interrumpir su comunion con Dios ni la de los demas.”


    Please stuf off your cellular in order to not interrupt your communion with God nor the (communion) of the rest.

    Tim said...

    You only have to see the words "POR FAVOR" and "CELULAR" to know what that means in any language: turn off your damn cell phone!

    I guess some problems are universal...