While I was in Bogota there were three moments of deep spiritual introspection which culminated in a fantastic week in Bogota, Colombia. I was scheduled to be at a conference and so I purposely went a day ahead so that I could see the sights and sounds of the city. As I studied a little about the history of Bogota I was most intrigued by the chance to visit some of the cathedrals. I was told by all that the best place to visit was a centuries old church on the top of a mountain overlooking Bogota called Monserrate.
The first exciting part was getting up the mountain. In 1928 they built a “funicular” which is two train cars attached by a cable that go nearly straight up the mountain side. It was shocking, breathtaking and awe-inspiring all together just on the journey up the mountain. Inside the church, they had hourly mass with people coming and going freely. Some worshippers and tourist intermingled reverently in the majestic sanctuary. A single priest sung Gregorian chant as well as modern Spanish worship choruses. The melodic resonance filled the cool mountaintop air. At the front of the church was a statue of Jesus. It was a statue of him lying on the ground as he suffered under the weight of the cross and weakened by the pain of the whipping. Seeing Jesus’ face reminded me of the sin that I had in which he chose to suffer for my sins in such a way.
Cathedral of Bogota:
A few days later I happened to walk by the open doors of Bogota’s central cathedral. The acapella music coming from within beckoned me to go inside. As I entered the brilliance of the chandeliers and the massive height of the gothic style cathedral were inspiring. At the very back of the church several hundred people gathered to worship the Lord. It was an odd hour on an odd day, but these churches in Bogota hold services constantly. Again, they had no trouble with a respectful “tourist” like me in their midst. Most of the service was music. Again the music resonating from the pipe organ or the choir was nearly beyond description. As the service closed I bowed to pray and a priest sung “Amen, Amen” just like we do in any other protestant church. The reverence and awe of the presence of God nearly brought me to tears as I held a bag of groceries and a camera while standing next to business men and women in suits. Many were kneeling in prayer as well.
The third event, brought the other two moments into a culmination of humility before the presence of God. Several hundred leaders gathered, worshipping before the Lord in multiple languages. We had just sung praises to God in Indonesian, Arabic, Spanish and English. The presence of the Lord was strong among us. We took communion together as all part of the Body of Christ. Ethnic background did not matter, language did not matter, denomination or doctrine was irrelevant in our worship of the Lord. It is about who he is, not us, that gathers us together.
A leader prayerfully read, “This is his body, broken for our sins. . .”; “This is his blood, poured out for us. . . “. I could see his face. The face of Jesus I had seen at the Monserrate church. The suffering he took for me. The grace he has given for me. Tears streamed down my face as I raised my hands and heart to him in humility and honor for what he had done. I have taken communion hundreds of times, but this time was different. I was impacted by the face of our Lord in that old church on the hill. As the service concluded we all joined hands and worshipped the Lord together. Many hugged each other in a great bond of unity in the body of Christ. Our hearts sang out, just as I had experienced in the Cathedral a day before, “Amen, Amen”. As his presence enveloped us we thanked God for his amazing grace that would bring us to Bogota, Colombia. Thank you Lord Jesus.