Ey göklerde olan Babamız,
İsmin mukaddes olsun;
Gökte olduğu gibi yerde de senin iraden olsun;
Gündelik ekmeğimizi bize bugün ver;
Ve bize borçlu olanlara bağışladığımız gibi, bizim borçlarımızı bize bağışla;
Ve bizi iğvaya götürme, fakat bizi şerirden kurtar;
Çünkü melekût ve kudret ve izzet ebedlere kadar senindir.
I've had the privilege in worshiping our Father in English, Spanish, Romanian, and German in the past, and most recently I've been able to sing His praises in Turkish. The lyrics above are the Lord's Prayer in Turkish, which the Armenians sing at the beginning of each of their church services. For the past four Sundays we have attended the Armenian Evangelical Church of Brussels, and even in the midst of my awkwardness of not being able to really communicate with many of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I remember trying my best to follow along phonetically with the lyrics on the screen, thinking to myself, "Lord, who would have ever thought I'd have the chance to worship you in Turkish?!?!" I laughed in my head to myself at the ridiculous beauty of it all. Each chance I've had to worship with other language speakers has been like getting a sneak peak at the end of a movie: when we will all be worshiping from every tribe, tongue, and nation our Lord and Savior for eternity in the Restored Kingdom. How beautiful! But last Sunday, a particular occurrence demonstrated to me even more beauty than the music.
I listened while almost holding my breath. Given my experience with middle schoolers, many of whom have disabilities, I was afraid of how this man would be treated. And given my experience with even seeing how people with disabilities can sometimes be treated in the church - not outwardly made fun of but often unintentionally ignored out of ignorance of how to act around them - I was extra nervous. And yet, to my utter disbelief, I was given the gift of seeing what the Restored Kingdom would look like with the restoration of all people.
Not only did the elder invite this man to give his testimony and thanksgiving to the church, the elder himself praised the man and his mother. After the testimony, the man sat back down and we returned to singing. The man lifted his hands high in the air. And he grabbed his mother's hand next to him and brought her arms up, as well. Then he reached across the aisle to try and grab another lady's hand. I was nervous. I looked down and saw Elin raising her hands and swaying. For a moment I wondered if others would think she was making fun of him and questioned whether to tell her to stop. But then I saw something so beautiful. The elder, from the pulpit, started encouraging his entire congregation to join hands and sway in solidarity with this man. And not just solidarity. In a true recognition that this man's heart was turned toward the Lord - in unabashed, full body and soul, praise. And the elder recognized what a gift that is and how everyone in his congregation should receive the same gift of praise.
Three rows ahead of me, I saw a seated elderly man reach behind him to another elderly woman who was also seated. They grabbed hands and smiled while singing. While Atticus was asleep on my chest, Elin reached up and grabbed my hand and then turned to Derek and asked to hold his hand. Then the other missionaries in the row behind me joined hands and swayed. Within moments, almost the entire congregation was joined with someone beside them, swaying, singing, praising, and raising their hands to the heavens. And we were singing in Turkish. And that moment. Wow, that moment seemed like a sneak peak to the end of the movie: the new heavens and earth.
Different languages. Different families. Different backgrounds. Different ethnicities. Different intellectual abilities. All joined together in the community of the Lord's church, bound together not by any other worldly descriptor. No other worldly reason for all of us to be there together. And yet we were - and are - joined by Christ.
"By this, all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:35
** Watch the video below that the church created when it finally purchased and renovated its own building. It also gives a great background and history of why so many Turkish-Armenians are in the Brussels area.