“From which light do I let myself be illuminated?”
Visiting so many churches over the past nine months, some of which were holy sites before Christ walked on earth, has brought home that every such place has a story. Last evening, I attended an evening centered around the story of the sanctuary of one of St. Paul’s sister churches, the Chiesa Evangelica Metodista di Roma, the local Italian Methodist church, a few blocks away.
By Italian standards, it is a new worship space, with frescoes and stained glass windows crafted in the early 20th century in the Italian Art Nouveau style. In a program of scripture, history lectures, literary and theological readings and music, the congregation explored the story of its church frescoes and stained glass windows.
In addition to scripture, we heard from the Qumran, the early Christian historian Eusebius, a story of the child Jesus from pseudo-Matthew, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley (of course), Walt Whitman, Bonhoeffer, Barth, the beautiful Italian poetry of Giovanni Pascoli and Antonia Pozzi, the Jewish writers Stefan Zweig and Amos Oz, the modern Catholic theologian Ermes Ronchi. Such a creative range!
The music was no less eclectic. A chorus, praise band, pianist and soloists performed traditional and modern church hymns, the Sister Act version of I Will Follow Him, Rhapsody in Blue, famous opera arias and more. The entire evening was a mash-up
of prayer and reflection, education, entertainment and parish talent night. All to build up the body of Christ in this specific place. I can’t wait to try this at home!