Our Synod Assembly was held In a conference area like the ones that so many big hotels seem to have: huge rooms with collapsible walls so that many groups can meet throughout the conference area in various configurations. This was one of the first assemblies where I was aware of the group meeting next door. They seemed to have loud music at times when we were trying to hear various speakers. When we had meditative moments before and during worship, loud music thumped from next door.
Midway through our meeting, we learned the group next door was a group of Spanish speaking women gathered to pray. Clearly, their prayer style is different than our Lutheran assembly prayer style. Knowing that fact however made it easier to be patient.
Our closing worship was on Pentecost Sunday, and for most of the service it seemed like a regular high church holiday: special robes, special paraments, special music. But at the end of this service, a truly special event happened.
The leader of the group next door came to address our assembly. First she spoke to our Bishop. He is bilingual, and she only spoke Spanish. When she addressed the whole group, one of the younger women translated.
Many of us were moved by this expression of Christian unity. Their faith tradition is very different from ours. it was a group of Pentecostal women, Latinas, and we were a group of high church Lutherans. The woman from next door pointed out that the wall that separated us was the only wall that was moveable. They had spent time in their assembly with their hands pressed to the movable wall as they prayed for us and the larger world. We had spent time in our chairs praying for them and the larger world.
Will any transformations happen because of this encounter? It's hard not to think of all the gun violence across multiple cities in the US yesterday and feel hopeful.
And yet I think back to the first Pentecost, those disciples with no reason to feel hopeful about the future of the Roman Empire. Then the Holy Spirit came, and they were transformed, and the world was transformed.
The 21st century will offer many opportunities for transformation. Let us hope that the Holy Spirit swooshes through the land, giving all of us a vision for how life might be better and the energy to make it so.