Spiritual Revival

Lima Lutheran congregation. Photo: LWF/Jeff Buhse
Lima Lutheran congregation. Photo: LWF/Jeff Buhse

By Jeff Buhse

This past Sunday, our delegation from the LWF to the COP 20 had the privilege to attend a church service here in Lima. Amidst the constant talk of mitigation, adaptation, climate finance—acronyms such as ADP, INDC's, CCS, SBI's—and all the rest it can be difficult to stay rooted in the fact that we are (as the LWF delegation) not climate policy analysts, but representatives of The Lutheran World Federation. After being in Lima for a little over a week, being submersed in climate politics, it was very nice to get out of the "conference" atmosphere and into a local congregation here in Peru. It was a nice change of scenery to leave the large, new facilities of COP and meet some local Peruvians and experience worship in their normal setting.

We arrived in a neighborhood full of tall buildings with windows missing, holes in the walls, and left completely derelict. The church had a large compound feel as it was surrounded by a large steel wall with spikes along the top; we had to enter the compound through a heavy steel door. It was, however, like walking into an oasis; there was grass, plants, soccer nets, and of course, the little church. The community was very welcoming and made sure we had the bulletin so we could follow along.

Everything was in Spanish, which for me, is not a language I am at all familiar with. As the service started, I was able to pick out a few words every here or there that I knew and could match up with the bulletin, but overall, I had no idea what was being said. The beautiful thing was that although I didn't understand the language that was being spoken, I understood every word. I am sure part of this comes out of the fact that the Lutheran liturgy is something I am familiar with and there are the same elements that I am used to, but the passion and the meaning that was extended by the pastor really struck home with me.

I feel I am unable to articulate the sense of understanding that I felt and I am at a lack of words on how to describe it, but this is what it must have felt like on Pentecost when  Jesus spoke to the people from the mount and everyone understood him in their own language. The Word of God is strong and it is important to remember this. We may have our own ways of talking, our own customs, and ways of living, but we are all brought together as sisters and brothers through Christ. While we remain here in Lima, it is important to remember that we are working towards climate justice together with (and for) not just Lutherans, but everyone.

Jeff Buhse is one of the LWF delegates to the COP20 talks in Lima, Peru.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.