One of the highlights of last week was your response to Book Cousins. Thank you for jumping in with sharing where you have seen God at work. The winner was notified, but to entice you to buy The Bells Are Not Silent, today go bell hunting with Joann and me. This was first published in September 2012.
Remember the song Deep and Wide? I belted it out as a kid, complete with hand gestures and humming words as we sang it faster and faster. “Deep and hmmm, Deep and hmmm!” Through song and laughter the breadth and depth of God’s love drilled into us as we sang in Sunday School.
I shared last weekend that Joann and I were going to Harbin to research church bells. She’s the actual researcher and I am the side kick. She became interested last spring in Chinese church bells we have traveled to Qingdao, Tianjin, and Harbin. We’ve also visited the bell museum and various churches in Beijing.
These trips have shown me that my view of the Bride of Christ has stayed about as far as I can open my arms to show how “deep and wide” the church is. Um, that is to say, pathetically small.
Part of it is just the reality that we can’t know what we haven’t been exposed to. Part of it is that history has kept different part of Christianity separated. Part of it is just that I forget how truly amazing God is.
Through these trips, God takes my arms and pulls them apart, experience by experience widening my view of vastness of the church.
In the stretching, there are moments of comical “what should we do” and a bit of mild awkwardness. When a Catholic brother and sister asked us in their sanctuary if we could pray together we said, “of course!” and started to do the Protestant huddle only to realize we were going to stand in line facing the cross. In the Orthodox Church we forgot to bring head coverings and I had to keep reminding myself to back out of the church and not turn my back on the cross.
But the most holy-ground- surreal-ness of “is this really happening” comes in meeting people and seeing how beautiful the bride can be.
At the Russian Orthodox Church scheduled to meet a contact at 10 a.m. and had been told that church didn’t like Protestants or Americans, so try to speak Chinese. We met utterly delightful Russians and as they realized we truly were interested in them, the bell, and their history, they repeatedly thanked US for caring about their history and trying to preserve it. My friend wrote more about the experience and about the bell. You should read what she wrote!
When our motley crew of Chinese, Russians, and Americans was finally allowed up into the bell tower, we were all in awe as we looked at an 1800s Moscow bell in an Orthodox church in a Chinese city being researched by an American.
We entered with those labels, but we exited one radiant bride. Humbled by the thought that God uses the likes of us.
Deep and wide. Deep and wide. May our understanding of how truly deep and wide expand far beyond our fingertips.
I loved the responses to last week’s question: Where have you seen God at work? So, this week. What songs were popular when you were a kid? I’ll share a few I remember in the comments.