Yesterday we worshipped at Iglesia Luterana Sion in Bayamon. The worship was filled with life and joy. Doreen and I were both moved to tears during the service, which is not that unusual, except that we could understand almost none of the words!
What made worship so moving in this congregation that was dying only five years ago? The pastor was very engaged in her sermon, and we could feel her energy and the energy of the people, even without knowing most of what she was saying. The way worship was led had all of the worship helpers connected throughout the service, like when the pastor raised her hands, she was holding the raised hands of the other helpers. The Lord's Prayer was spoken with people all holding hands in little circles, as the pews would allow. There were lots of announcements, including birthdays and awards for people graduating from everything from kindergarten to professional schools. The announcements, both before and after worship, gave us the sense of a real community where everyone cared about what everyone else was doing. The music was like a "praise band," with drums and some local instruments, like a cuattro (sp?) which was a very small guitar with twelve strings. The lead musician played in a jazz band at other times, like another great lead musician I know. The songs, all in Spanish, were from several ethnic traditions, quite intentionally. When the congregation sang, the people already knew the words to many of the music pieces, which freed up their hands to clap or be raised in adoration of Jesus. The passing of the piece took a long time, and we must have greeted at least two dozen people whom we had never met before, and this part of the service came to a close with the choir singing a song calling for silence in preparation for communion. After the end of the service, many people came to greet us, including people who offered us a place to stay if we want to make a return visit.
All in all, it felt as though the Holy Spirit had informed the people that Almighty God was truly present and would receive their worship and praise in this community united in love. It is certainly a place I would want to visit again!