I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced a portion of a worship service led in French until this weekend. I’ve heard Spanish interjected into services plenty, which to my Texan ears often makes for a fun, happy sort of sound (maybe this was ’cause this generally happened in Vacation Bible School settings).
French, on the other hand, sounds smooth, in an awesome way, like the Divine Romance is being experienced right now, in a serious-but-not-solemn discussion with Jesus. This is the kind of worship music one might, if they were so inclined, groove to. (Even within the same song, you see shoulders start swaying when the French part comes.)
I am presently (while writing most of this post) sitting in the sanctuary of Christ Memorial Church in Williston, Vermont. I find myself here this morning because it’s the site of Fusion, the Baptist Convention of New England‘s fall collegiate conference. Our worship leaders and speaker are from Quebec, so they have been occasionally inserting their local flavor.
But this “local flavor” aspect is pretty par for the course at this point in my Trip. In fact, in this respect, my time in New England has been pretty different from Chicago and elsewhere. Far more “grassroots,” it seems, with lots of house church visits and small group Bible studies and one-on-one interviews. Fewer “dramatic experiences” but instead seeing God’s awesome work more up-close, “on the ground,” in the nitty-gritty of church life and friendships and fledgling movements.
So my personal experience of this period has been different, too. It’s been more hands-on for me here. Slipping in as an unnoticed observer, for instance, isn’t going to happen in a church of 12 people. So I have to – and therefore get to – participate. I’ve had the chance to teach English class to International Students, to join in or even lead Bible study, and to “talk shop” with ministry-types who often make it clear they’re still figuring things out. I’ve also had lots more time simply to “hang out” with both students and ministry leaders. It’s been neat, for sure.
But here’s the thing: Oftentimes I truly do like being “hands on” and am refreshed by actually experiencing community in small groups with fellow believers. Other days, I wish for something different, something bigger and easier and maybe, at times, a little more anonymous. In the same way, some days I like the adventure of this Road Trip, with all its couch-sleeping, random scheduling, lack of sleep, Boston accents, and new friends every day. Other moments I miss my comfort zone of southern drawl and Dallas-life, with bed and routine and job and church and family and those friends. Wrong or not, every day has its preferences.
As we sang one of our songs in French this morning (with English subtitles), it spoke of Jesus as our “Chef” (translated “Chief” in English). After my initial excitement over the etymology issues here (“Oh! A chef is the chief of the kitchen!”), I got to thinkin’ a little deeper.
I think God has grown me to the point that I’m generally okay with Him as my “Chief.” He gets to call the shots -including calling me to take a Road Trip that will eventually cross an entire country. But maybe my version of “Chief” or “Lord” can be pretty tame: He assigns me, as His tribe-member, to accomplish some portion of His will. That’s what Chiefs do, I figure, but maybe that’s not the whole picture.
What I am less comfortable with is a “Chief” who is my “Chef” – a God who calls the shots in the Kitchen not only as dictator but also as architect. This is a God designing my life (and therefore this Road Trip), ingredient by ingredient. And His design for even the same meal – soup and salad, for instance – may be dramatically different at dinner than it was at lunch (Potato and Caesar? Chowder and Spinach?).
So today’s Road Trip isn’t yesterday’s, because the Chef’s Special changes; and yet, in both, He’s giving me my daily bread.
I want God to pick the Course; He asks to pick the Ingredients, too. Maybe my job is to entrust my soul to a faithful Chef, take whatever the waitress brings, and trust that not just the meal but its ingredients will satisfy both stomach and palate.