In 2002, we visited Switzerland and while there, attended a Sunday morning service at an upbeat church in Sursee. While we looked like most of the people in attendance, we could only smile and nod as folks greeted us warmly and shook our hands. Though we couldn’t understand the sermon, we knew that family surrounded us—our spiritual family. When the worship music began, we tried to follow along with the German words on the overhead screen. As we joined in praise to God as best we could, I was struck with a brief glimpse of how it will be when we gather around the throne of God in heaven, every tribe and tongue worshipping together. The thought brought goose bumps and tears.
In 2014, hubby and I walked the five blocks from our house to North Memorial Park where the Harvest Call First Nation Church had set up a big white tent for its nightly gospel meetings.
I won’t lie. It felt out of my comfort zone. That may sound odd coming from someone who has attended church all her life. But I’m not First Nations. I’m not Pentecostal. I’m not a fan of country gospel style music, and I’m not used to services that go on past my bedtime. Part of me just wanted a new experience. Part of me wanted to better understand my First Nations neighbours. Part of me wanted to know how the courageous handful of First Nations people who attend my church must feel. Mostly, I hoped to have my heart uplifted.
This time, we did not look like most of the other people in attendance. But this time, we could communicate easily and saw a few familiar faces. (Plus, we knew we could be home within minutes if things got weird.)
We tapped our toes as the singers and musicians warmed up and the tent gradually filled. We listened to wonderfully encouraging stories from people whose lives changed for the better because of their faith, many of whom testify they would not even be alive today were it not for Christ.
When Pastor Bernice Catcheway officially opened the night with her powerful prayer for our city, I once again experienced what I had in Switzerland. This time, I could understand every word, and this time, it occurred in my own community. But again, I was struck with a glimpse of how it will be when we gather around the throne of God in heaven, every tribe and tongue worshipping the same God together. Again, the thought brought goose bumps and tears.
I love how Jesus makes sisters and brothers out of strangers, regardless of colour, customs, or language.
When God showed the Apostle John the future, here is one of the things he described: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9)
When that day comes, I won’t feel out of place. I’ll understand every word. I’ll know all the lyrics to every song. And I won’t be too tired to stick around for the food.
I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait.