This morning was our second Sunday here in Costa Rica. Back home, we come from a very traditional church with excellent music. If it's particularly rousing--if--we might clap a bit. We lean a bit more toward the "high church" side of things. And this is what I've been accustomed to for almost the whole of my life.
I would never classify the church we've attended here as "high". And if you've ever attended worship in a Latin American church, you know that it's anything but docile. It's quite rousing. You can tell the new missionaries, or the ones who are more accustomed to the high church setting. We stand there, hands to the side (or firmly thrust in pockets), and participate as best we can in an unfamiliar language. Boy, do we stick out like a sore thumb.
There was another new family, whose first time attending was this morning. Indeed, this was their first Sunday in country. I delighted in watching as their young daughter worshiped. She clapped. She jumped up and down. Most importantly, she wore the most beautiful smile of joy on her face as she participated in worship with our Costa Rican brothers and sisters. I think she was greatly disappointed when the worship portion of the service was over.
Several of us are a bit more bashful in new settings and can appear a bit stand-offish. Not intentionally, of course. We just struggle with new things and not knowing what to do or say. This morning, I am happy to say that I was prepared for the Costa Rican greetings and leaned right in for the hug and kiss on the cheek that is customary. I was prepared for it. In fact, I only stuck my hand out for a handshake for those who first stuck theirs out. Anyway, after the song service, the kids are dismissed to attend children's church. Some of the kids were a bit more wiling to do this than others. But our new little friend? She was excited to meet new people! Her mom told me after church that she walked around telling everyone what her name was! It was if she didn't know the concept of a stranger. To her, these were not "strangers"; they were simply new friends to be made.
And it struck me that this is yet another example of why Christ admonishes us to be like little children. Their willingness to do new things, try new things, say new things--without fear of embarrassment is truly something we should strive for. There are not strangers, simply new friends to be made--especially friends who love Christ. And they have a willingness to abandon all cares of what they look like to others and throw everything they have into worshiping God.
So while the sermon was excellent this morning, the real message to me came from watching this sweet little girl as she allowed herself to become a part of the body of Christ in ways I struggled with.