We’re not pew-jumpers. I promise.
One of the more egregious sins hurled over in the Protestant direction by Roman Catholics is the “parishioners-gone-wild” nature of our propensity to change churches. Take a dislike to the organist? Bolt. What was that craziness about serving in VBS? Vamoose. No labeled parking place for “visitors” (even though we’ve been attending four years)? Checking out.
And I have to admit- there may be people like this. I just haven’t met them.
Living biracially, biculturally, and bi-religiously has been a challenge, one only complicated by both R’s and my religious education. We actually do care about things like election and sacramentalism. We get fired up and fling names about the living room like Pascal, Bonhoeffer, and Kierkegaard. We’ll spend an entire evening debating total depravity and transubstantiation. I know. You can’t wait for the video.
But what won us over were the brownies.
We heard about a bilingual church in the area, a church plant from a larger one with which we were familiar. As a linguist I was intrigued, with a million questions about codeswitching and turn-taking. As an armchair sociologist I was interested in the social dynamics of hispanic/white, legal/illegal, English/Spanish. And as a believer, I wondered what the theology was.
They meet in a local high school’s band room, and it’s cozy and familiar. The people are Cuban, Mexican, American, and from a number of South American countries (even Colombia, from R’s hometown nonetheless!). At the front of the room, where I usually stand in class, they have their instruments for the singing. To the left is a long table, filled with platters of food from numerous countries to be shared in communion, which forms an integral part of each service.
The kids run wild- very Hispanic. People stand and sit at the appropriate times- very “Anglo”. The pastor’s walking us through Genesis, verse by verse, nuance by nuance (good theology, BTW). And I’m intrigued- not by the place or the food or the novelty, but by the people.
From the minute we walked into the band room, we knew we were “en familia”. Here were people like us, with values like us- diversity, family, solid teaching. The chairs were filled with people rambling in Spanish, or English, or a combination of the two. There were parents from the old countries, kids who looked like our daughter, and young couples dangling with children. People talked and ate, picked up our kids, gave me hugs though they had just met me, and addressed R in tones that sounded remarkably like his own.
And we knew we were en nuestra casa- not our own, of course, but that unique place where His casa is Our casa. En comunidad.