O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Erin Jones is a freelance writer and humanities teacher. She visited Romania in the spring of 2014 with a group of young adults from her church, Fourth Presbyterian in Bethesda, MD.

After an incredibly rich week, our team had begun to near the end of our visit to RCE with hearts full. That evening, our little team of 14 from Fourth Presbyterian Church, along with some RCE staff, descended on the Residential Campus in Pecica to spend the evening with students and staff, over delicious food, as always. We lingered, chatting after the meal when suddenly a small entourage of visitors burst in, one of whom carried an accordion. Before long the instrument had filled the room with upbeat, accented bellows. The tune soon took the form of a hymn, which all the Romanians in the room immediately recognized and began to sing. When this song ended, another followed close behind. A hymnal appeared, but students and staff alike seemed to know the words.

In an instant, this casual dinner had been transformed into a service of worship. Our hearts were filled with praise, even those of us who couldn’t understand the words. On the faces of the students some wheelchair bound, others survivors of trauma shone with the peace that passes understanding and joy inexplicable. We did not need to know the words to clearly see the truth expressed in those moments: that God is greater than circumstance and difficulty, that His grace is sufficient, and that his merciful love is glorious. So far from home, our little group from Maryland had glimpsed the true home awaiting us: a home where worship of our great God will transcend language barriers, racial divides, ethnicity, and any other temporal barriers.

Revelations 7:9-12
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”