Sunday in South Sudan
It was a beautiful morning – roosters crowing and birds chirping with the first light. A regular Sunday in South Sudan.
A quick wash followed by a delicious breakfast of eggs and mandazi, then a desperate search for my clerical collar (no luck, used a piece of paper…) and we were off!
The church was a short distance away, down the dusty red dirt road, over the bridge and around the corner. We were greeted in true Maridi style, with smiles and singing as we walked between rows of children and youth, Mothers’ Union members, and pastors to the payot. Of course, food and tea were waiting. No one welcomes visitors like the church in Maridi.
It was a very special service: a visit from the bishop, confirmations, and commissioning of senior MU members and lay readers. The Old Testament reading from Genesis 12:1-9 was fitting for so many who have been called by God to enter into a new life, a new ministry, a new way of sharing the Gospel. I saw eagerness and excitement in this calling, not fear or trepidation. God said “Go”, and they went, joyfully walking in God’s promises and trusting that they will be a blessing to others.
The congregation was, I think, exactly who Jesus would have loved to spend time with. There were people of all ages, all sizes, all shapes and abilities. The lame and the blind were there and treated with such tenderness; it must surely have been Jesus’ hands guiding them to the front of the church.
Two of the confirmands were young women, wearing clean clothes and appearing very neat. One shirt had a logo for the playboy club, and the other said Boss Lady. Such a reminder that “people look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.
The chalice bearer and I were sent outside during communion and the line seemed to go on for miles. I bent slightly when placing the precious body and blood into their hands but was surprised a couple of times when those hands belonged to someone who towered over me! There are some very tall people here! When we ran out of bread, I had to go inside for more. However, once everyone outside had received, there was some left. Inside, there were still people waiting. I was assured that both the whole and the broken pieces left on the paten would be well received. And they were. In the end there were only a few broken pieces left over. Though only fragments were left uneaten, I was prompted to think of God’s economy for there is no waste there. There is nothing that He has made that isn’t good; whether it’s broken bread, blind eyes, or weak legs.