Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Climbing up to meet God
photo: today's chapel flower arrangement: Epiphany of the Trinity
In order to get to ten o’clock chapel I should leave at nine thirty-five but once again it was more like nine forty-one before I slammed the crooked screen door at the bottom of the hill in order to hustle up Tao Fung Shan Road.
Twenty minutes later I’m a hot and humid mess, grabbing a hymn book, heart beating, listening, surprise, to a Chinese rendition of “How Great Thou Art”. This has never been one of my favorite hymns… maybe I’ve sung it about a hundred times too often at American funerals… but with at least half the congregation singing in Cantonese, the song takes on exotic new possibilities.
The Swedish professor who just arrived in Hong Kong is preaching on one of the stories of Jesus’ healings -- how Jesus’ shoes are too big for us to fill, yet by “keeping the mind of Christ Jesus” we get to be part of it, this God business of healing the world. The message goes straight to my heart.
Half an hour and the little service is over. My palms have left sweaty prints on the hymnbook, but my breath has calmed.
And I’m thinking, maybe those old Christians weren’t so wrong when they built churches on the top of hills, or at least on the top of tiers of steps There’s something about a thumping heart, damp clothes, deep breaths, that makes you aware of your need for the infinite, in a way that “accessible” gymnasium-shaped level floor buildings can never begin to achieve.