Sunday, March 30, 2008

Swahili Anglican Pasaka (Easter)

I had heard there was a large church built on the site of the slave market. That was the place we wanted to go for Easter services. Oddly enough this very Muslim town didn’t seem to have any sources for finding services times. We even stopped there after dinner the night before and could only get out of the guard that the gates open to tourists at 8:00 AM.

We decided to shoot for 10:00. Nothing really starts on time certainly there would be more than one service on Easter Sunday. We arrived about 10:15 and were ushered up to the rear balcony of a long narrow church. To the newcomer or tourist the balcony would have appeared full when we got there. People shuffled their plastic chairs around, got more off the stack and eventually the five of us has seats. (Only some of the Norwegians decided to go.)

We arrived with the sermon in full force. I caught a few words, but was more distracted by my surroundings: huge vaulted ceilings with peeling paint, tall narrow stained glass windows, little girls in their Easter best fidgeting. I craned my neck to see the preacher in his bright orange Easter robes. I pulled out my Bible to find a likely passage he was preaching from. I read each resurrection account in the gospels. Following the sermon was the Anglican liturgy. Lars struggled through the visitor copy of the order of service book we were handed upon arrival and I had promised to return to an usher after the service. I was thankful that I had some understanding of the parts of the liturgy having grown up Episcopal. (And attending an Anglican service in English on Palm Sunday.) Turns out we hadn’t missed much of the service.

After the service I looked around the front and saw where the post had been for putting the person up for sale, right in front of the altar. The altar has a mosaic of Christ’s crucifixion. If you stop to think about what freedom Christ has bought for his children, it’s both powerful and profound. I am thankful that He is the God of the nations and brings freedom that is only found in Him.

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