Monday , 21 May 2018
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Bienvenido and God Bless You

Bienvenido and God Bless You

“Bienvenido.” That’s how I greeted her, trying my best to use her language. That’s how our pastor had offered greetings from the pulpit. It sounded smooth coming from the pastor; not so much from me. It’s funny how awkward it feels to speak words in a foreign tongue.

She was sitting in a pew near me at the Sunday service. We had been given extra time to meet and greet on this Sunday because it marked the first service of two blended congregations. The Saturday night Spanish-speaking service will be blending with our 9:15 worship. The woman I greeted was from that service.

This move landed her in a side pew with a headset for translation, and we needed to find a common language. She was a whole lot more comfortable in this than I, because I, let’s face it, have a penchant for the same pew, same service, same demeanor. Every Sunday. But this woman and her community of Spanish-speaking friends were delighted to worship their own way in the midst of this culturally-different service. And worship they did, singing joyfully both in their language and mine, clapping in all sorts of rhythms, punctuating the preaching with shouts of amen, and celebrating aloud when their 3rd graders received their new Bibles. Why not? A little praise seems in order when our children take hold of a book filled with treasures that that will light their path through a lifetime.

Oh my. I like these people. Apparently, I have been waiting for permission to speak, permission to clap, permission for joy, and their very presence says: permission granted. Go ahead. It’s okay. Worship.

So delightful was this that for a moment this Sunday, I gave myself permission to marvel as we sang:

“Open Up The Heavens”

We’ve waited for this day
We’re gathered in your name
Calling out to you
Your glory like a fire
Awakening desire
Will burn our hearts with truth

You’re the reason we’re here
You’re the reason we’re singing

Open up the heavens
We want to see you
Open up the floodgates
A mighty river
Flowing from your heart
Filling every part of our praise

Your presence in this place
Your glory on our face
We’re looking to the sky
Descending like a cloud
You’re standing with us now
Lord, unveil our eyes

You’re the reason we’re here
You’re the reason we’re singing

Show us, show us your glory
Show us, show us your power
Show us, show us your glory, Lord

And yep, I sang:

Muéstranos , muéstranos tu gloria
Muéstranos , muéstranos tu poder
Muéstranos , muéstranos tu gloria, Señor

Hey, why not? No one can hear me. But wait. I am heard. That’s why I’m here. To sing out to the One who welcomes me every Sunday. And as I sang, I listened and looked and marveled: Spanish and English, instrument and song, children and adults, and the sign-language interpreter signing the words with his hands and the deep expression of his heart. To each in his own language, a cacophony of praise. What incredible joy. Now that was worship!

So how’s my Spanish now? Well, in answer to my awkward ‘bienvenido,’ my new Spanish-speaking friend responded, “God bless you.”

“How do you say that in Spanish?” I asked her.

She took both my hands in hers and smiled: “Bienvenido.”

Haha. She already knows me! How gracious. How kind. Let’s keep it simple.

Bienvenido. Welcome. Well-come. Come well. Come often.  Let’s just play with this language and see what happens.

Vaya con Dios, nuevos amigos. But y’all come back now, ya hear?

About Wendy LeBolt

Wendy is a health and fitness professional and Floris UMC member who moonlights as a writer. She blends faith and fitness on the field of play where young people inspire all her best writing material. She is the author of Fit2Finish: Keeping Your Soccer Players in the Game. Wendy and her husband, Scot, have three daughters and two dogs.

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