Praying in tongues

I’m at the meeting of the European Cabinets of the Methodist Church in Braunfels, Germany, where the leaders of Methodist communities from all over Europe have travelled to talk particularly about evangelism and Fresh Expressions.

My role is as one of three people from the Methodist Church in the UK who have at one time led Fresh Expressions – new ways of being Church – and may have something to say to the leaders here.

Perhaps there’ll be more to say about the presentations we make and what I say on Tubestation – the church on the north Cornwall coast which resonates so well with surf culture.

But what struck me tonight was the amazing worship – or at least the amazing experience of being in the opening worship.

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, one of the four bishops in Europe and our host, is holding together a community of maybe 70 people in this extended Cabinets meeting: from Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and other countries … as well as interlopers like me.

For the first evening’s worship, it meant running the worship in two languages – German and English – and therefore choosing hymns which could be sung in both. It meant providing a transcript in English of the German-language sermon, as well as a headset translation for those who only spoke Russian.

But for the time of open prayer the invitation was to use our own language and for some time we shared as people poured out their prayers. We couldn’t understand most of them and yet, in an extraordinary, we understood exactly what was going on.

The community of faith was reaching to God, holding each other up before their Father and longing for the best. It was a remarkable moment – and a great note on which to begin five days together.

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