These Are Our People
by Rhonda Sittig
July 27, 2022
The year we lived in Costa Rica, each Sunday morning, we would board an old city bus with our two toddlers and travel 30 minutes south. Then we walked a kilometer into the small town of San Lorenzo to attend the tin-roofed church. There were loud enthusiastic praise songs as we swayed and clapped our hands. The preacher held up God’s Word. The church people brought offerings — a small pack of tortillas or a bag of beans to place in a cardboard box up front. On Tuesdays, I would help Sister Sara distribute the food to poorer people in the village. Larry taught Sunday school to a friendly group of high schoolers. These were our people.
One summer I traveled to China for six weeks to teach English in the interior city of Deyang. There were five American teachers, and on Sundays we would attend the only accessible Protestant church in a city of three million. As we entered, short gray-haired women would warmly greet us in words we could not understand, pressing their own prayer hymnals into our hands for the two hour service. We sat on narrow benches, listening to the pastor, but not understanding the words. When we sang the Chinese hymns, we would hum along until occasionally they would sing a strong “Allelulia!” and we could join in! Even though we had no shared language, in this place so foreign and far from home, these were our people.
Recently, Larry and I were visiting Dublin. We attended a Sunday Evensong service at the majestic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Outside a placard noted that since 1500, generations had worshiped in this place. We entered to sit in the quiet. Then the officiants and choir proceeded down the aisle and chanted music soared to the heights of the rafters. God was honored in the wonderful words spoken and the intricate songs of praise. And we joined in worship in a place where people had loved and praised God for hundreds of years. It was glorious! These were our people.
In a world that seems so fractured, so divided, it’s good to know, every Sunday, people around the world are praising the same God we worship — from thatched churches in African villages to soaring Cathedrals in Dublin, from lively congregations in Central America to neighborhood churches in American suburbs.
Words of a psalm come to mind: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth… Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Psalm 100). Around the world and over centuries through countless generations, people have worshiped and praised God. And these — all of these — are our people.
And a little P.S. We’re not done yet. It makes me tear up to think that one day in heaven we will stand before God’s throne with the lively Costa Rican worshippers and the dear Chinese Christians and the rich tones of the Dublin choristers, and all together we’ll love and praise and worship the God of eternity. With all these, our people. That will be truly glorious!
Rhonda is a grandma of ten lively grandkids and is happily anticipating them in the house for Grammy Camp next month. Games, crafts, daily ice cream and happy chaos!