Yesterday I found myself in an Italian language service in Milan. The church—the Chiesa Cristiana, which doubles as Milan Bible Church in the afternoon-- was a thirty minute walk through nondescript neighborhoods (a reminder that Milan was heavily bombed during World War II) from my hotel. I ended up in the Italian language service because of the timing of the services—certainly not because of proficiency in Italian, which is still years away.
The church was downstairs in a little apartment complex with a small courtyard. A man stood by the door to let people in, which seemed a reminder of how small a minority evangelicals are in Italy. The room was painted a bright, deep yellow, with little posters of passages from John (e.g., “I am the life …”) on the walls.
The wonderfully lively service made me see contemporary worship songs projected on a screen in a new light. The general familiarity of praise songs, and the simplicity of the words, enabled me to join in the worship to an extent that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Even I understood lines like “Cantero del tuo amor/per sempre” (I will sing of your love always). It reminded me of the argument that the Catholic church has always made for paintings and other art in the church—that it made it possible for ordinary people to understand the richness of the Bible in an era when few could read.