04 July 2010

a day of churches

Today, since it was Sunday, we spent the day at various church events, as you might expect since we are, after all, in seminary. We started out at Igreja Universal, which is a Pentecostal church. The building was huge; it made me feel like I was at a rock concert. The sound system was also really loud, so it sounded like I was at a rock concert. Poor Claudio strained his voice translating for us all the whole time. To my very structured self, it seemed like not a lot actually happened in the service. There were lots of different times where people came down front for various kinds of healings, there were a few times that they handed out things to prepare for next week, there was lots of praying, and there was a sermon of some sort. And music, of course. But it all ran together and made it seem like not a lot was going on. Sonja pointed out, however, that it is a Holy Spirit centered church, and that the way it is structured allows for the spirit to move them.

After lunch at an outdoor event that reminded me of the county fair, we went to see the Christ the Redeemer statue. The road leading up to the top are wicked! You wind and weave back and forth like crazy! The statue was cool to see up close once, but I think it's one of those places that is actually probably better from far away. It's still fairly high above you when you are actually there, and so it is hard to see well, and you can't get far enough away from it to really be able to enjoy its grandeur. We had fun trying to get some group pictures, along with Jesus, but I think we were successful.

As a side note, if there are any students reading this blog, I would just encourage you to take as many travel seminars as possible. Besides the benefits of experiencing a new culture, you also get to interact with your professors outside of the classroom. It's really very interesting to see a different side of them. It's definitely an added bonus to these trips!

After seeing the Christ statue, we briefly joined a procession for a Catholic church celebrating their anniversary (I think). The horrible part of that, however, were the hundreds of helium balloons that they released. (I popped mine and threw it out.) I was always taught the if helium balloons make it to the ocean, animals will swallow them and die. If that's true, then I'm sure that church just killed a bunch, b/c we are quite close to the ocean! Anyways, not all of our group walked with the procession, but a few of us did for a couple blocks b/f heading back to the hostel.

We then attended the 7:00 service at the Presbyterian Cathedral of Rio. We were taken up to the balcony by a native Ohioan who was to act as our interpreter for the service. When the pastors walked out, we were surprised to see that Chris and Claudio were among them! The church did not know that we were coming, but when Chris and Claudio went to talk to him when we arrived, I guess he asked them to participate. They also welcomed us in the service and had Claudio introduce the purpose of the trip.

I was hoping that since it was a Presbyterian service, I would recognize some of the hymns, but alas, no, it was a contemporary service. Our interpreter called it a mission service. The service was long, 2 hours long! The music wasn't too bad, even though I am not a huge fan of contemporary worship music. The church was obviously conservative, with very masculine language, which I did pretty much expect everywhere.

One thing that bothered me about both of the actual church services the complete lack of anything from the Hebrew Bible. I know, I know, that could be said about a lot of churches in the US, or anywhere, but it always bothers me. the Igreja Universal also used a lot of Jewish symbols, like mezuzahs and kippahs, yet no OT. What is with that?

We finished the night at Bip Bip, a literal hole-in-the-wall, which has great live samba music. Local musicians sit around a couple of tables in the "bar" and play and sing and everyone else crowds around outside and listens and dances. They sell only beer and water. It was fantastic and a perfect way to end the day. The music was fun and well done and the whole experience was one I wouldn't have wanted to miss!

1 comment:

  1. 2 hour contemporary worship service - wow! I applaud you all. Glad the day ended on a satisfying note. Keep up the interesting and informative blogs Megs, Mom and I are enjoying them ~ Dad