Monday, July 13, 2009

Christians in Chartres France, 12 July 2009

Resting in Chartres with Cheryl. Great view of the cathedral from our hotel window. Total slow down and rest mode. Sunday 12 July, we worshiped at the nearby l’Eglise Protestente Evangelique, at least half African and a few East Indians represented as well. It was a thoughtful contemporary service with guitars, drums and keyboard never taking over the words, such as Jesus, Roi des rois and Gloire de Dieu, set at times to some upbeat French folk tunes. Still, I wish so much more for this congregation in its worship, but no elitism here; that is so important. It was good to see the men lead in prayer and in reading Scripture, administering the Lord’s Supper, and in the singing. About 55 people present, including some children (few of these articles in France, but one family with three boys).

Then the moment came for introducing newcomers. I began frantically preparing my comments in French. Closer and closer the moment came; I was sweating, conjugating verbs in my head, racking my brain for when it’s pronounced “Christ” with the “t” and when without. Cheryl’s fingers were digging into the flesh of my arm, “Don’t say anything. Just nod and smile,” she suggested. At last they looked at us and asked who we were. I rose, smiled, and launched in. “Bonjour a tout, dans le nom de Jesus Christ (I dropped the “t”--safe in French), et je m’appelle Douglas Bond, et ca c’est ma femme, Cheryl Bond. Nous sommes Americaine. Je suis desole, mon Francais est tres mal.” They all nodded a bit too vigorously in agreement—so it seemed--at my last comment about my French being abysmal. I’ve got to get this language down; a million miles away from it at present. What a relief, though. No questions about Obama, Bush, the war…

Then a venerable gentleman in a suit opened his Bible and delivered a thoughtful sermon (as much of it as I could understand; I did get 5 chapters of Romans read in English during his address). He used an illustration from the Tour de France underway and climbing the heights of the Pyrenees today (see picture at right); he spoke of the hard work of the Christian route and used another illustration from William Cowper, though I did not recognize the actual poetry he recited. No passive holiness here. The chimes of the great cathedral are ringing throughout the narrow streets of the old town as I write. This place is very restful, and we are very grateful for it.

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