Tuesday, January 14, 2014


How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh cry out
    for the living God.

Psalm 84:1-2

I knew I would wake up early because of the jet lag, so I planned to leave my apartment at 6 am. I waited for the bus in the dark. When I got off the bus, I noticed that another woman who got off was carrying a bible. Turns out she was going to church too.

It was an hour before the service would start, and the church was about half full. This church gets totally packed- if you arrive like, on time, you probably won't be able to get a seat. I've determined that 30-45 minutes early is a good time for me to get there.

There's a guy up front, in a winter coat, leading the congregation in some songs to pass the time before church starts. It's cold in the church- because in China, there's not really an expectation that when you go inside a building, you take your coat off and you're warm and happy. Nope, in the winter people wear their winter coats everywhere.

So anyway. We sing from the hymnal, then the guy up front gives a little talk about the meaning of the song, etc, then we sing again, and finally the actual church service starts.

Just like always, there was singing and praying and a sermon. But this service was special. It was my first time having communion in China.

A ton of ushers came forward, and the pastor gave each one a tray of communion bread. They spread throughout the whole congregation- and many went outside, presumably to the overflow seating area. One by one, each pew received the bread. The usher would stand at the end of the pew, and we had to scoot down and bunch up there as he or she handed it to each person and said, "这是基督的身体,舍给你。" ("This is the body of Christ, given for you." Sorry if my Chinese grammar isn't exactly right...) The bread was a thin little wafer, pretty much the same as what I'm used to in American churches.

The pastor stood up front and asked if there was anyone who did not receive the bread (饼 (bǐng) in Chinese). Then he told the whole congregation to stand up, and said, "On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took bread..." the exact same script as my church at home, except in Chinese. And we all ate the little wafers.

Same thing with the grape juice. The ushers passed it out, in little plastic cups just like my church in America, and the pastor recited the part about Jesus giving it to his disciples, and we all drank.

Image source.

It was great. It was amazing. It was familiar, but it was Chinese. It felt like finding God.

And I love going to church, but... I haven't really connected with anyone there. I want to- I remember in college how many wonderful Christian friends I had, and how we always cared about each other and helped each other and studied the bible together. I want that, I want to get to know people from that church, but... what if they don't accept me? Because I don't believe in hell, and a bunch of other things that I always thought Christians are "supposed to" believe in.

I just want to come into church and listen and sing the songs and observe... but actual interaction with other Christians feels kinda scary.

But I want to try.


This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 84. To read other people's posts, click here: Lovely, a Poem Inspired by Psalm 84.

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this. What a great moment you brought us into with this post. Thank you! I hope you do connect and do find people who embrace you--all of you. :)