Today we went to a church service that started at 5:00pm. We normally attend church in the mornings so this was a new experience for us.
Kosciol Chrytus Zbawiciela is a Reformed church which are Protestant Christians following the teachings of Calvin. His main teachings center around predestination.
Our “presearch” indicated that at least portions of the service would be in English. Also, I was impressed with the detailed instructions of the worship service that I found on the church website. It serves to educate those who are unfamiliar with a worship service.
It was raining outside but it was a short walk from our apartment. There are three reasons that weather keeps people from church: too hot, too wet or too nice!
We were greeted warmly and ushered to our seats in a small room. She told us to sit on the left because the bulletin, Bibles and hymnbooks were in English. On the right was Polish.
The service was bilingual and translated either from English to Polish and sometimes from Polish in to English.
Sashko was one of the worship leaders/translators and he told us that church planting is a LONG process in Poland. To be Polish means that you are Catholic. However only half of the people are practicing Catholicism. The other half are secular liberal young non-believers but identify as Catholic because they are Polish.
There are three services in this room: Methodist at 10am, black church at 1:00 and Reformed at 5:00. We were surprised that there was a black church since we have not seen any black people in Poland.
Worship is God’s idea, not ours. Psalm 117 invites us to worship Him. Praise the Lord, all nations.
Confession is the beginning of worship. We as sinful humans are not worthy to come before Him. Jesus became sin for us so that we can be the righteousness of God.
In this bilingual congregation, we sang songs in our own language at the same time. It was an odd feeling but God was able to hear our voices as we offered them up in song.
One song was Nearer My God to Thee. This song was remembered as the last song that the orchestra played as the Titanic sank.
Genesis 32:24-32 Jacob wrestling with an angel of God
Hosea 12:3-5 speaks of Jacobs birth
Hebrews 12:6-13 God disciplines His children
Sermon: Wrestling with God
George Kadyan, a visiting pastor from Odessa, Ukraine, expounded on the readings from the Word of God.
George was a young Armenian man during the collapse of Communism. He was having a discussion with a friend whom he admired and commented to him, “Of course, we were descended from monkeys.”
His friend told him that he was foolish. Nobody believes that anymore.
His foundation was shaken and he certainly didn’t want to appear foolish to his friends. What DO I believe?
The wrestling match begins. George began searching. He knows (as we all do) that we are created for worship. But who and what?
He began searching Eastern religions. Their commonalities are techniques for happiness or acceptance. However, nothing brought comfort to his heart and soul. It felt cold and superficial and manipulative and inconsistent.
It was difficult to earn blessings. When he felt that he had performed well, the blessing felt prideful. When, he failed, he felt stressed or pressure.
His interactions with others were also affected. If his god was cold and superficial and manipulative and inconsistent, he treated others the same way. Truth: you will treat others how your God treats you.
We love because God first loved us.
George started to read the Bible and immediately saw the wrestlings with God as similar to his own. He had no home like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
He noted that he Bible is honest in describing its best heros. They are real people fighting struggles, fearing, failing, loving, and laughing.
Jacob and God
Jonah and God
And George and God
Every one wrestles with God!…and we all come away changed.
This was new. He had not read anything like this before. The whole Bible reveals God’s close relationship with mankind…unlike the other “religions”. Here was a relationship.
In the Bible we read that Jacob was always seeking blessing but he was confused about true blessing. He was thinking physical; God was thinking eternal.
Jacob was surrounded by cheaters. His mother Rebecca was a co-conspirator in deceiving Isaac and playing favorites with her sons. His brother Esau wanted to kill him but trouble didn’t stop there.
Laban, his father-in-law, was another cheater. He deceived Isaac by giving him the wrong wife initially and tricked him in to working more years. Jacob cheated Laban while caring for the sheep.
Jacob had a favorite wife that he idolized named Rachel. He had a favorite son, Joseph.
When he went back home, his mother was dead, his father was old, and his brother was strong and coming for him. Only God can help him.
Jacob has to be confronted of his idoltry. Stop counting on your own strength. God wants to tell him of His blessing.
God physically weakened him by making his hip weak. He became lame, received the blessing and changed his name from Jacob which means cheater to Israel which means you have struggled with God and lived to tell about it.
Jacob only wanted the blessings that he could see: the perishable ones. God showed him that those blessings are weak like his lameness. God’s blessings are imperishable.
A young toddler was going to run across the busy street. There was a red light and the mother spanked her child. The toddler had seen his father on the other side.
He was mad and crying loudly but clung tightly to his mother. She was not only his disciplanarian, she was his comfort.
When the light turned green, they crossed the street hand in hand.
He had to be disciplined and had to wait for the blessing.
We are like that child crossing the street in God’s hand.
Today’s culture tells us to follow ous own heart and create our own destiny. This is far from God. Don’t waste your precious life seeking worldly treasures. Cry out to God if you are wrestling. Seek and see what He wants. It might be uncomfortable but seek his love and find lasting comfort.
As a Christian, ours is a unique struggle but within family. He will discipline his beloved children, but we will never lose God’s love.
Even Christ wrestled with God in the garden in His prayers. Jesus gave a pure sacrificial love.
The Lord’s Prayer
Again, we said this in unison, each in our own language. Note the * so that we can stay together.
The Apostle’s Creed
We proclaim each Sunday that God is the Creator and Maker of heaven and earth. Every week the theory of evolution is denied.
Only those baptized and daily publically professing Christ and walking with him every day and glorifying him in all areas of life can take communion. That is a pretty tall order. I took communion anyway.
I acknowledge my sinful nature, believe what Christ did for me and I take communion to remind me of his sacrificial love.
After the musical postlude, the Krakow church professes a unique request of silence to pray and reflect on the preaching of the Word before leaving. They have learned that people feel the closest to God when there is silence.
After the service, we were able to get to know several people during a time of fellowship.
Anya and Tomasz
We met a newlywed couple who both come from problematic families. They say that many young people have this background. They do not have good role models.
They realize that God must be first in their marriage. They have requested an older Christian couple to mentor them when questions arise.
They realize that they have the added issue of not speaking the same native language. Anya speaks Ukrainian and Thomas speaks Polish. They converse in Polish which is a difficult language to learn. They realize that communication and understanding is paramount to a good marriage. I think they have the recipe for a strong marriage. May God continue to bless them and their marriage.
The Rev. George Kadyan Family
We had a wonderful time visiting with George, his wife, Snezhana, and his children Richard (16) and Katyn (14). They were taking a vacation in Krakow. (The next day, we saw them once again on our train to Lviv. Snezhana was able to assist us in getting tickets since we don’t speak the language. Truly a Godsend!)