Our second Sunday here, thanks to new local friends, we were introduced to an English-speaking church. It was something we were hoping to find for our family, but we weren't sure how long it would take. The only service we had heard of until that point was one that met Sunday evenings, which wasn't ideal for kids in school or Kraig's teaching schedule. There were plenty of Bible-based Spanish-speaking churches, we knew, but as our Spanish was close to nil, we knew we needed to start with English.
We have been more than thankful for Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) Presbyterian Church in Bugambilias. It has been here for almost two decades and has a few church plants throughout the region, along with other ministries including a school. They also have a Spanish service that meets after our English one, so the building is full all morning. In addition to the service are Sunday schools for the kids--an English one during the service and then a Spanish one afterward.
In all of the ups and downs of our brief time here, the church has been a constant. We could tell from the first Sunday that not only were the people genuine, but the teaching was solid. And since then, whether it is Pastor Trotter preaching or one of the other elders, we have been consistently challenged and encouraged. It never ceases to amaze me how a lesson that I've heard time and again or a passage I've read over and over zings with new import and shakes me to my core. One of the first Sundays touched on Philippians 4 and not being anxious. Another Sunday delved into what it meant to ask God with perseverance for needs, and yet to trust His plan. Again and again God has given us truth we needed to hear.
It's a small and simple service and much more traditional than our home church in Michigan, but that's actually one of the draws for Kraig and me. We love our home church because of the solid biblical teaching and our church family who has seen us through so much over the years. But both of us have a bent toward liturgy and there is a bit of that at Christ the Redeemer. For me, the most meaningful thing is the weekly communion. Each week after the message, the pastor steps down to the table and seamlessly ties the point of the sermon to the table.
I forgot my phone today which I was going to use to snap a picture, so you'll have to put up with my sketch. The communion table is plain, solid wood, deeply grained. On its surface lie three items: a silver tray with a tortilla wrapped in white linen, a silver goblet with a linen & lace-edged cloth, and rows of plastic communion cups each with their swallow of blood-red wine, another linen cloth lying over them. Beside the table is a wood-laminate cupboard, and on top of this is a bottle of hand sanitizer. There's something I love about the contrast between the faux wood cupboard and sanitizer and the simple, beautiful reality of the communion table, silver, and white linen.
Each week, the process is the same. Pastor squirts some hand sanitizer on his palms and rubs them together as he welcomes us to the table and connects it back to the message. Then he opens the cloth with the tortilla and holds up the circle, breaking it as he speaks of Christ, broken for us. The broken tortilla returns to the cloth, folded again so a portion of bread shows. The cup is then lifted, cloth removed, and he speaks of Christ's blood shed for us. At last, the cloth over the little cups is taken away, and any who are followers of Christ and are members of an evangelical church are called to share in the table. A song is played, and people line up to take the bread and wine. We step up to the table, tear off a bit of bread that the pastor holds out for us, take a cup, then go back to our seats to wait for those ancient words that invite us to eat and drink. The bread is dry, reminding me of suffering, but the swallow of wine softens it while at the same time shocks and burns, reminding me of cleansing.
Every week I remember a verse of Andrew Peterson's song, "Windows in the World":
"Oh and every Sunday morning
you can see the people
standing in a line.
They're so hungry for some mercy,
For a taste of the communion bread and wine.
It's a window in the world.
A little glimpse of all the goodness getting through.
And all along the way the days are made,
little moments of truth."
I can't put my finger on it, but almost every Sunday I am moved to tears.