This morning we got up and went to the market on our way to services, to get apple cakes for the fellowship time following services. We also picked up some flowers for members who were celebrating their birthdays as well as Victors mother-in-law Anna who was celebrating her name day. In many countries in Europe people celebrate their name day'on which they celebrate. For example, if your name was John you would celebrate your name day on June 24th with anyone else named John. They even have a day for people who do not have a specific name day so they can celebrate. These days are celebrated much like birthdays.
The church meets in a rented hall from a cultural center operated by the city of Riga. This hall is located in Old Town Riga directly behind City Hall. They rent a room on the second floor of this building. One of the Christians, Guntis Grizans had the chairs as well as the Lords Supper table set up before we got there. Several of the members spoke at least some English but many did not. Janeks as well as his girlfriend Elina took the bus from Cesis at 7 a.m. to make it to worship with us. It was great that Janeks was able to bring Elina and it was also great that Janeks was able to worship and sing songs in his native tongue.
Service began with prayer requests and an opening prayer by Victor. Following the prayer Victor read an article from the Christian Chronicle about persecution going on in Russia to a church there. Mark led several songs in English while the members sang in their own languages. Some were trying to sing in English, most were singing in Latvian, and one sang in Russian. It reminded us of what heaven is going to be like. It was very emotional to worship with our brothers and sisters here in Latvia. There were 20 people in attendance including us. There was a family that was there for the first time. It was a mother, son, and young daughter. They had a hard time finding the meeting place so one of the members went and found them and brought them to the building.
Following the singing we took the Lords Supper. Victor led ļed prayer for the bread and when he finished all of the members stood up and went to the table and broke bread. They remained standing with the bread in their hands until everyone had a piece and the all took the bread together. We then did the same thing for the fruit of the vine. After taking the Lords Supper they had a time of fellowship. It was like a meet and greet time. It was very neat! Victor explained afterwards that this was intended to reflect the extension of the "communion" among the brethren. Then they passed the collection basket.
Eric presented the sermon after the Lords Supper while Victor translated. The lesson was about "Gods' Awesome Plan" to reach the lost all around the world including Latvia. The members received the message well. Following the lesson, we had class where we talked about God transforming us and Janeks stood up to share how God had transformed his life. Several people were moved by his story as all of us have been. We closed with a prayer and then the ladies set up a table with cakes and cookies as well as tea & coffee. We gathered around the table and enjoyed some great fellowship! Janeks and Elina said that they really enjoyed the time worshipping together. It seemed like Elina really enjoyed the singing as well as most of the congregation. On Wednesday we will have a congregational sing and all of the members were invited to Victors apartment at 6pm. We are looking forward to spending more time with the members then.
All around we had a great day of worship! How wonderful Heaven will be!