Thursday, July 22, 2010

Guests at worship... Hong Kong & Wisconsin Contrasts in Churches

Last week we were guest preacher/presenters at worship at Bethel (Wednesday night) and Atonement (Sunday morning) both churches in Muskego, Wisconsin. Each church was beautiful in its own way, and each church welcomed us, and other guests,  with warmth and joy.

I was reminded of one of our most recent church visits in Hong Kong, at the Nepalese church led by a husband & wife team who were students of Wayne's.  The setting was completely different. 

  • In Wisconsin we worship in church buildings, in Hong Kong we worship mostly in schools and slightly remodeled apartments.
  • In Wisconsin we  see brilliant stained glass windows, as a reminder of the beauty of God, at the Nepalese church we saw the pastors remove their shoes before approaching the altar, as a sign of the holiness of God.
  • Each church had a cross, and was centered around the teaching of the Word,  shared prayer (especially for the sick) and as the ancient highlight of the worship service: the bread and wine which we Christians believe to be the very body and blood of the living Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is nothing short of miraculous, this way in which Christian churches  can be so different, but in essentials -- in welcoming, in worshiping, in receiving forgiveness and the new gift of life -- we are very much the same.

 " in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."  (Romans 12:5)

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Contrasts: Hong Kong & Wisconsin

I love my life in Hong Kong, China when I'm in Hong Kong but now that I'm in Wisconsin for 2 months,  I'm remembering what I love, love, love about the Midwest of the USA.

Here are a few more contrasts:


The (Anglican) Cathedral of St. John with gorgeous music and liturgy (built in 1847) (photo from

compared with...

The Roman Catholic Holy Hill Basilica near Erin, Wisconsin, with incredible scenery and a full set of outdoor stations of the cross.
(first shrine built in 1863, present building completed in 1931) (photo taken last week by yours truly)


And here's a contrast of two night scenes:

(Mong Kok area - cell phone photo by Eric Nieminen)

compared with

(entering Door County)

I love life in the East and in the West.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
       I will bring your children from the east
       and gather you from the west. 

                                -- The Prophet Isaiah 43:5

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Count it all joy - our home church in the USA

Incredible joy seeing Our Savior's people (the church among whom Wayne & I served before being called to Hong Kong). Babies we've baptized, "kids" we've confirmed, widows and widowers with whom we had walked to grave sites.

There's a wonderful new pastor who not only has three sons (like us!) but who also has a daughter adopted from China.  Wow! (And as Wayne helpfully points out, Pastor Tom Pietz is much more organized than we ever were, too.)

We saw kids who'd grown a foot in less than two years time.

 Older folks looking younger than when I saw them last!

People who've been through chemo treatments, job loss, parental deaths, they've earned their extra lines & wrinkles, but still made the effort to show up at a Sunday night service, holding on to the hope which "counts it all joy" .

A group just back from their service trip in Tanzania, they made it to church despite their jet lag.  Another young woman had just gotten back from India. 

And then there was the little bright-eyed boy, adopted from Guatemala.  We had prayed for him as his parents waited YEARS for his arrival.  We had seen his pictures, and finally, on Sunday night, we got to see him in person, a cheerful three year old, cuddled in his parents arms.  

The church was full, the music and worship was wonderful, Christ was present. Really a foretaste of heaven. But I... forgot to take pictures! Too busy crying and smiling. So I raided the website pictures so you could see "our church" which is really not ours at all, it's always, only, totally, Our Savior's Church, and we hope it will continue to thrive and live up to its name.