Your Church +Portland


Shot Glasses in Spain

On a cool crisp Sunday morning somewhere in the lower parts of Spain, my interpreter and I arrived minutes before the church service was about to begin. It was my first chance to speak in Spain and as we arrived the people seemed just as excited as I was. Upon entering, the room was filled wall to wall with Spanish and Portuguese speaking believers anticipating something great. Quickly we were greeted by the pastor and his team and then ushered to our assigned seating on the front row. From what my interpreter relayed, it was the first time this church had had a preacher from the Western world come and speak. Expectation was high. This was going to be great.  

Following a lot of singing and a lot of hugging, the senior pastor warmly welcomed everyone. Because I cannot speak anything other than English I had no idea what was being said nor when it was time for me to come up and preach. So as the pastor continued to speak, I sat there smiling and waited patiently for my introduction. I smiled and waited. And waited. And smiled and waited for the longest 20 minutes of my life. Soon out of nowhere the ushers appeared and began passing around trays with bite sized chunks of bread. It was at this point my lightning fast intelligence kicked in and I figured it must be time for communion. I reached out and took my morsel of bread from the usher while awaiting the pastors’ instruction for us all to partake. And again, I waited. And waited. I soon realized this was going to be an all day service so to pass the moments of language barrier oblivion, I managed to creatively roll my bite sized piece of communion loaf into a masterful replica of an oversized marble. It was genius! I was surprised however when the guy to my left passed me his piece of bread. At first I thought he wanted me to roll his into a marble but apparently the custom was to hand your communion bread to the person on your right and then together partake. So with a smile, I turned to my interpreter and handed him my crafted ‘bread marble’. He wasn’t so happy. But before long the ushers were back with step two of communion, the handing out of the grape juice. I took my little communion glass and decided not to do anything creative this time for fear of having to pass it on. The pastor abbreviated this message and with a nod of his head we were all to drink of the cup. 

It was at this point in my journey to Spain that I realized not all communion services were created equal, especially when you’re overseas. Things like little glass cups are not just little glass cups. They are actually shooter glasses. And when in Spain, communion juice isn’t poured from a bottle of Welch’s Grape Drink either. Go figure? So as it goes, this non-drinking preacher on an empty stomach managed to down a shooter filled with a European brand of wine so potent that it burned all the way down. It was at that moment that my understanding of communion was forever changed. Soon the room started to spin, my brain went south and as life would have it, I was called upon to preach. I remember making it to the podium but I can’t say I remember anything after that. According to my interpreter, everyone had a great time. Apparently I was even welcomed back but since I can’t remember what city we were in, going back won’t happen any time soon!

I could write a book on all of the unexpected moments that have transpired in my life. But over the years I have found that I can either cry about it, go absolutely insane wondering why I couldn’t foresee it or instead work at mastering the art of rolling with the punches. Rolling with the punches is all about changing the way we view all the unexpected ‘upper cuts’ of life intended to knock us out. It’s about our attitude and allowing the ‘who we are’ to rise up and carry us through the situation. It’s choosing not to be defeated. I’ve found that a lot of times it all boils down to having some simple problem solving skills. By not allowing the mind to call it quits we access our God given creativity and search for a way through. When your mountain doesn’t move, climb it! When there’s nothing left, use what you have. An unstoppable can-do attitude matched with a little help from the Holy Spirit will guide the tiniest vessel through the roughest of waters. But it starts with us.  

Hebrews 10:39 (The Message Translation)
But we're not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We'll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way. 

Here’s to the win!
Pastor Shian

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