We worship at an English-speaking congregation that isn’t Lutheran. Given the choice between attending a more Lutheran service in Bahasa Indonesia when we can’t understand it at all, or dealing with doctrinal and traditional differences where we could hear the Word and be part of Christian community, we opted for the latter. It has been a huge blessing to us in many ways even when I would have approached a sermon or Biblical text differently.
I can still remember the smug look on my first homiletics (sermon-writing/preaching) professor at Seminary, crowing about how he was going to ruin us forever, as we’d never be able to sit and listen to a sermon the same way again. And he was right. I don’t and can’t. Not just from my Seminary training but from being a sole pastor and preaching every Sunday for 15 years or so. Listening to a sermon is much harder for me than preaching one!
Today I was pleased that while I wouldn’t describe this congregation as liturgical, their pastor actually taught briefly on the liturgical calendar they mostly don’t follow, in order to justify his sermon topic on Christ the King. This is the last Sunday of the Church year and that Sunday always focuses on the current as well as future reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As part of his sermon he included a traditional Batak poem. The Batak are one of the major people groups (tribes) in North Sumatra, and there are many Batak people in Medan. Their traditional homelands are to the west and south of us and their influence is strong even in Medan where there are also many people from other tribes. The Batak people also have a separate language that is not Bahasa Indonesia (which is based off the Melayu language/people group). I can say hello and goodbye in Batak but that’s about it! One language is plenty for me to focus on right now, thank you!
But I appreciate that we had a taste of traditional liturgy this morning in the form of Christ the King Sunday, as well as a bit of Indonesian culture and language. I look forward to being able to worship in a Lutheran congregation when our language skills are better, but I’m also grateful for the reminder we have brothers and sisters in Christ that look and sound a lot different from us!