Friday, May 29, 2009

Each In Their Own Tongues

And then, he started to speak in tongues. I turn to my friend, Sandy. We exchanged looks, which translated meant that we were not in our Presbyterian church anymore. We had attended the pentecostal church as invited guests. I, maybe, was her Toto in a strange adventure. The land was strange to us mainline Christians. The service started with different music than we were used to in our services. The musical beat inspired the courage to dance like wild lions. We were used to the quiet hymns of meditation. Then the minister talked in strange tongue, which even he didn't understand. The congregation followed the minister down his road, and broke out in different languages. A woman in a yellow dress fell down on her knees and spoke some unknown words. She melted in a spiritual trance. The friend, John who invited us was playing a guitar in the band. His head flowed from side to side as he looked upward. I was in a whirlwind of thoughts. How did we find ourselves here in this land of Pentecostals?

I had met John in my duties as a manager of a thrift shop in Edwards, Co. He knew Sandy from his work. When he found out that I went to church with Sandy, he asked me to his church and demanded I ask Sandy as well. He had been asking Sandy to come to his church for years. Sandy had come out of the sixties and had been attending our small Presbyterian church for a few years. Earlier in her life, she had been involved with Buddhism and had traveled to Tibet alone to find enlightenment. She looked the part of the accountant, but her life history was anything but stale. Still, John's church frightened and intrigued her. I too was a recent convert to Christianity of only a few years. I had moved from an agnostic position to believer, but that is another story. There is power in numbers; so Sandy and I went to John's church one Sunday. I doubt that either of us would attend alone.

When we arrive, I notice that most of the congregants were my clients at the thrift shop. Most are the underappreciate backbone of Vail. They were the construction workers, housekeepers, and line cooks. When I say my job was serving the poor of the Vail Valley, I have had to answer the claim that Vail lack poor people. The poor are always with us. The poor lived in the outlining areas and took the bus or drove beat-up cars. They lived in Leadville, Edwards mobile home park, and they lived as the invisible. At Church, they came to matter.

They attended the church to feel the fire of the Holy Spirit. They again came to know that God, indeed, still cared about them, even as the world around ignored them. I grew to respect them as a true expression of the Holy Spirit. They shared food at the fellowship hour with Sandy and me. I caught up with what was going on in there lives. They asked us to return. I came to understand my own poverty. I return to my home church, and though I still have not spoken in tongues, I have heard others speak in tongues. I have seen in their eyes love, kindness and compassion. I know God is still present in both Churches.

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