Monday, June 21, 2010

Worship In Zlín

Sunday morning about 10:00 we walk from our flat through town to the office building where the Církev Reformovaná Zlín gathers. It is our third official Sunday here. Greetings of “Dobry Den” and “Ahoy” meet us as we arrive. We give similar greeting to others as they arrive. Hugs, smiles and questions about the week are exchanged. A fairly normal Sunday morning, except that it is in Czech.

Tables and chairs are arranged, the projector set up, and instruments tuned, the Lord’s Supper set out as preparations are made for Worship. As everyone settles into their seats, we begin with a call to Worship. I must say that other than knowing that it comes from Scripture and recognizing a word here and there, it is mostly unintelligible to my mind. We sing several songs. All lovely, and sweet harmony and praise fills the air. One of the songs we sing in Czech first and then in English. (We are fortunate that so many of the church members speak some English, though not all. I think that otherwise, we would feel shut out and very isolated.) As we sing several of the little girls come up to the front and dance, smiles wreath their faces and many in the congregation smile as they watch.

There are many here that we have met before through summer English camp or at the Sunday services held at camp. Some we have met for the first time. Michal and Eva -- new believers, they are a great encouragement to the church that God is continuing to open eyes and hearts to see the beauty of Christ. Their lives have been and continue to be changed - radically and dramatically - by our glorious Christ. Another young man who has been attending English Plus (the English Language School) has attended church the last two Sundays. We are encouraged by that.

We all come –looking –seeking to see and be filled with the Spirit of Christ. His presence is among us. Attention is given to the Word. (The church has two Sunday school classes for the little ones.) This morning Rene preaches using the text from John 4. When I ask one of the members what he talked about, she said it was about finding our joy not in our circumstances but in our Savior. That is our ever present struggle, finding our joy in God alone and nothing or no one else.

Each Sunday after the preaching, there is a time for the giving of offerings. Sometimes I think that we most clearly display God’s character and grace through giving—giving joyfully. For surely He Himself gave His very own life for the joy set before Him. It was in His giving (or loosing) that He gained—a glory—a crown—a throne—a kingdom and a people. After the offering, the Lord’s Supper is served; the simple passing of the bread and the wine, partaking together as one body of believers, a visible representation of the great, incredible mercy of our Lord. We sing “Králi Můj” (My King) taken from Zalm 42,6. The worship is closed with the Lord’s Prayer or a confession of faith, and a pronounced blessing. Many here hold their hands out as they receive the blessing.

Fellowship after Church

As the service concludes people begin to talk. Some greet the visitors who slipped in toward the end of Rene’s sermon to sit on the sofa. The tables and chairs are re-arranged, this time for a light snack or meal. Each week one volunteer brings some sort of spread or pomazanka for bread and another some sort of sweet. It is not unusual for the visiting to last for two or more hours. It is good to see this desire for fellowship with one another. Because of schedules and distance of travel, this is the only time that the church gathers during the week. When it is time to go, tables are put up, chairs lined up for the next week, all the dishes washed in the kitchen area. (There is no sink, only dishpans of hot water that are carried to the kitchen.) One is used to wash and another two are used to rinse the plates, cups and silverware.) Everyone pitches in to help. At last, with everything in order, goodbyes are said; hugs and handshakes are given as the church leaves the small rooms that serve as the place of worship in downtown Zlín to go to the greater, wider field of communities in Moriava.

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