I can see my English students are drifting. They look confused, intimidated, or just plain bored. So, I throw out English words that most Hondurans know already, even if out of context. I challenge them to give the Spanish equivalent for English words.
“Church,” I say.
The class nods in appreciation. Everyone in Honduras knows church means chicken. In Honduras, Church’s Chicken is a popular franchise.
“Wrong!” I shout exuberantly.
“The gringa is confused,” they murmur.
Even if they don’t truly believe me, I have their attention. We can all agree that taco means taco, and pizza is pizza, no matter where you are. But church? What’s up with that?
I grew up attending church every Sunday morning in Louisiana. My mama often served fried chicken after church. Grandpa said grace, and we passed the chicken, white gravy and farm-raised vegetables.
Church and chicken. Made sense to me. Today, fried chicken is not a Sunday rite. Neither is going to church for most of us.
I rarely eat fried chicken today. I like it, but I had my fill before I reached puberty. Not long ago, I had my fill of church, too.
Living in a foreign country, I found the meetings didn’t always seem relevant to my needs. I was often the only white person in the crowd, and one of the few to drive a car. I tired of flatterers who favored la gringa for reasons more related to funds than friendship.
I quit the church, just like I dropped fried chicken years ago.
Now, I am living in the US again. I attend services most every week. I realize now that the power of gathering in Christ’s name has power. I feel it when I join my voice in prayer or praise with the congregation. I sense the Spirit in the words spoken in wisdom and comfort.
I am linking this post to Velvet Ashes, where the site’s moderators are posting about the topic, community. Is community only achieved in church?
No. Of course not.
Yet, it’s one of the best places to experience community. Jesus said, where two or three are gathered, there I am. It’s powerful. It’s real.