Let me tell you about “Tiny Church.” Perhaps I’ve mentioned it in passing, but it’s about time you were formally introduced.
La Iglesia Evangelica Española, more commonly known as “Tiny Church,” has become my home church in Santander. Although it’s very different from any church I’ve attended in the past, I have found familiar songs, a multinational community believers, and encouragement in this small place. I called it “Tiny Church,” not just for the size of the building, but also for the small congregation. I would guess there are about 20 people in attendance on any given Sunday, from Spain and Switzerland, Colombia and Brazil, Cameroon and Ireland. The service is in Spanish, which is the second language for most of the members, but the language common to all of us. It’s the most international congregation I have ever- and probably will ever- be a part of in my life.
Church supposedly starts at 6:00pm on Sunday evenings, but usually doesn’t get going til closer to 6:15. We start out with a song or two, or five. It’s always a long night, with lots of praise and prayers, songs and preaching, and more prayers. The first few weeks, I was definitely out of the Christian comfort zone I had constructed growing up in West Michigan, but I’ve gotten used to Sara’s extensive Spirit-filled prayers and the “fire-juice” (or whatever kind of alcohol they’re serving up during communion). You can count on a good two hours of church each Sunday, no skimping here!
This week, we were asked to participate in a church play, The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Of course, I was hand-selected me to be one of the foolish virgins. The foolish virgins are participants in a wedding, and while waiting for the bridegroom to arrive, they carelessly let their lamps burn out. I had two lines in the play: “Not today. Tomorrow. We’ve bought tickets to go to the movies, and I have to wear my new dress” and “Give us some of your oil [for our lamps]” It’s a pretty loose interpretation of the parable, but the message is the same.
We were also asked to sing (which we had sworn never again after we embarrassed ourselves singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” in English at the Christmas pageant. Even though the congregation doesn’t speak English, I’m pretty sure they know what “tone-deaf” sounds like). It’s unfortunate we’re such terrible singers, because it’s a really beautiful hymn. My favorite line is in the last stanza: “Bright hope for today and strength for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.”
Blessings behind, before, beside.
Tiny Church has been all of these things for me and I am so grateful for the opportunity to worship there each Sunday evening.
On a related note, it’s Holy Week here. I will be traveling south, to Andalucia, starting Thursday, to see the famed Semana Santa processions. Wishing you a week that is indeed Holy, filled with love, trust, and the knowledge that there is always room for you at the table.