Three services of Worship, is that enough?
Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
23Trip End Jul 23, 2010
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First part will be my Sunday story; with parts to follow for Ann and Sabrina, who stayed with another family and I don't get to see or communicate with until Sunday afternoon, after all of my services and meetings are over!, and Pat Nordman, who stayed down at Machakas with Pastor Bobby and her Flanders partner congregation until Monday afternoon).
Sunday morning: We are to be a Bahati Martyrs Church by 8:30 a.m. There are to be three services (actually four, as there is a youth service which runs at the same time as one of the others, usually the second one!) The 8:30 a.m. service is in English; the second one in Kiswahili and the third in the tribal dialect/language, Kikuyu.
I found out only yesterday from some of the team at Mukuru (Slum) Redeemer Church that the planned ground-breaking and fund-raiser special for the Mukuru Church had been "postponed" (cancelled, the team suspects), so there has been a requested shift in emphasis, so as not to offend the congregational leadership
The sermon, which I picked up around the edges, was on Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He talked about the Gardens, first of Eden, then of Gethsemane. Points were that the Garden of Gethsemane is 1) a place of Pain; 2) a place of frustration, and 3) a place of betrayal. He spoke to the forms of pain which he and many of the congregation probably feel, rejection of their application to work, denial of the visa to visit America, etc. Then he spoke of the frustration and the “giving up,” which can so easily come, after the pain. Next he spoke of the betrayals, which come especially from those who are near and dear, whether here at home or maybe even in New York, where you perhaps least expect it, and look rather for support. Finally, he spoke again about the meaning of Gethsemane, as an olive garden, where the olives are pressed for the oil, of healing and anointing, and, as Jesus said his last word on the Cross at the end of his life on earth, “It is finished!” So, he said, the pain and the frustration and the betrayal finally also will be finished. There will be an end! Finally all will be in God’s hands!
The service begins, as all of them did and do, with lots of praise singing and prayer – very rapid prayers, with testimony thrown in, and choir joining in choruses, and leading the congregation in familiar songs as well – often familiar American hymns, sometimes done in other rhythm! Then there was a time with the pastor, speaking to the children, prayer and admonition before sending them off to Sunday School.
The choirs (there were two of them, alternating between the services) sang a special number, applauded by the congregation, and there were two hymns in each of the services, sometimes accompanied by keyboard (no organ, or no organ yet!) and always with drum or drums. Each service had a worship leader, a scripture reader or two, and the elders who were present sat behind the pastor and the Table (back up for the Preacher??) Choir was off to the side, down front right from the congregation.
My service, in the national second language, Kiswahili, was perhaps the least well-attended, as the youth and young people were at the English language service and the “traditional congregation” prefers the tribal dialect/language, Kikuyu. The text was Luke 11:1-13, Jesus teaching his disciples to pray, and the message was that there is here a model not only for prayer but for the full and complete, contented life: Bread (that which truly satisfies, not just filling the stomach or meeting our desires (pleasure, fame, success, money, etc. – all that for which we sometimes spend our lives and livelihood!); Prayer (genuine and fervent and persistent listening and talking with God – the action before the action or something like that!), and finally, of course, God – as that one in whom we truly live and move and have our being – not one of our making, but that one who, as Barth says, is “Totally Other,” and whose we are, when we own it!
Third service, in Kikuyu, had as sermon a long lecture by one of the elders on the theme of repentance, text Galatians 3, especially 1-14, using a power point presentation (all the service was videotaped and projected on screens throughout the sanctuary.) The power point presentation was “Generations,” and talked about the generations of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Israelites, and what constituted their sin. Obviously it was important for many of the congregation as a teaching tool and long lecture (a young man, visitor, near the front, was taking copious notes!) The whole was also something of a preparation for a big evangelistic meeting coming up at Bahati on the weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which he had printed flyers and posters to advertise. The preacher, Nelson, is also a part of the leadership team for the Mukuru Redeemer Church.
The third service on this Sunday also featured Communion. With three services, there is communion as a part of one of the services on a rotating basis. I was invited to sit behind the table (clergy collar, mind you!) and assist Pastor Mundia with communion.
When, at 3 p.m.!!! we were finished with all of the services (oh yes, the celebrants and elders file out of the sanctuary at recessional time following the Elder carrying the big lectern Bible very ceremoniously), we were invited up to one of the classrooms in the main building, for a little lunch with several members of the leadership of the congregation, and conversation about the church and its work and ours in New Jersey.
FINALLY, I got to go “home” (back to the Methodist Guest House, and talk with the gals, each of us sharing our weekend experiences!