Easter Worship on the Island of Maui
Our God is everyone’s God!
The church choir is singing the Hallelujah Chorus in their native language, Tongan, and the only words recognizable to us are the instances when “Hallelujah” is repeated. But I know the bass part and I try to sing along in English as best I can. My wife, Sue, and I are attending this United Methodist Tongan church because it is the Protestant church nearest to the villa where we stay.
What strikes me as I listen to this familiar music is how present God is in this place. In a different language, in a different culture, God has reached these people and they profess their faith in and their devotion to the same Jesus Christ that we worship in our churches back home. And the joy on their faces when they say in English, “Christ Is Risen,” is the same joy I feel when I realize He has risen for all of us, for everyone.
This church serves many vacationers in addition to their primarily Tongan congregation of 40 – 60 people. The minister, Rev. Tevita Maile, who was raised in Tonga, announces that they are so proud to have started a new Sunday School program on Palm Sunday and then introduces their youth choir of 12 or so children from ages 6 to 14 who sing in both Tongan and English songs that remind me of those I sang years ago when I was in Sunday School.
His sermon is titled “Christ Resurrection for Everybody” and in his fairly good English tells us that no matter our race, no matter the color of our skin, no matter what language we speak, Christ Has Risen for all of us.
We are offered communion near the end of the service and I am overwhelmed by the feeling of gratitude for being loved by such a gracious God. As I start to pray in the pew after receiving the bread and grape juice I break into tears because I feel so blessed. Sue puts her hand on my shoulder.
Thank you, God, for being in the lives of so many people throughout the world.
He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Hallelujah!
- Bob Linderman