As you may have known or guessed, our family was on vacation last week. We took off for a week to enjoy the great outdoors and the French Canadian culture in Quebec, Canada. We spent most of our time in and around the small ski town of Mont-Tremblant. It was gorgeous and a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life here in the Stolpe home. The Sunday we were there, we visited the only church in town, L’Eglise Sacre-Coeur (Sacred Heart Church). The church is a small Roman Catholic church that overlooks Lac Mercier. Here are some of my thoughts from our visit:
It was very interesting to be in a French-speaking church and to be in a catholic church. In some regards, it makes me appreciate my own church all that much more.
On the other hand, it was encouraging to see the devotion of those who regularly worship in this setting. A few other observations:
1. Besides the passing of the peace, we were not greeted by a single person. Nobody said, “Bon jour.” Nobody said, “Hello.” Nobody said anything. If you belong to a church, you should be friendly. Stop and say hello to those you don’t recognize.
2. We need to speak the language of those around us who don’t have a church home. Putting aside the French language and the differences in doctrine, would I or anyone else understand what was going on as part of this service? Do we expect people to come into our churches and fall in line with the routines and traditions we keep? Do we provide an explanation of our traditions, etc.? Are we relevant to the community around us?
3. The priest reminded me of (my wife’s) Uncle Dave’s brother, Tom. I know this is trivial, but it’s just what I noticed.
4. The French language is beautiful. I have no idea what everyone was saying or singing, but it sounded nice.
5. People think that church ends after communion. I shouldn’t judge as I don’t know what these people had to do this day, but I observed many people slipping out of the church as soon as communion was over. They didn’t stay around for the closing words. They didn’t stay around for fellowship. They left as quickly as they arrived. Our involvement with church isn’t meant to be a task that must be checked off the list. It’s meant to be our life. We’re called to be in Christian community that transcends the Sunday service. We’re called to be involved throughout the week, and we’re called to bring it into our communities. This doesn’t happen in a 40 minute Sunday service. This happens every minute of every day.
6. I’m not real great at the kneeling thing. Perhaps, I need to practice this more. Getting on my knees before God is a discipline of trusting God and of putting Him first.
I realize these thoughts are somewhat random, but I thought you’d enjoy hearing how I was stretched on vacation.
Where do you go to church when you’re on vacation? What have you learned from your vacation church experiences?