Archive for November, 2006

A Day of Giving Thanks

Friday, November 24th, 2006

This is a sermon that was delivered on November 22, 2006 at St. Thomas/Holy Spirit Lutheran Church (ELCA) in a joint service with Church of the Advent (Episcopal).

Deuteronomy 26: 1-11

Philippians 4: 4-9

John 6: 26-35

In Sudan they are infamous for asking any visitor to preach with little or no warning and to tell you, when you ask about the Scriptures, “Whatever the Spirit leads you to.” I was always scrambling for something appropriate to say expecially when I was preaching to the Mother’s Union. One such day was in April when I found out at noon that I was preaching at 3:00 PM. I thought of that day as I read the lessons for this evening.

We were at the cathedral on a very hot day–well, every day was hot there–but it was steamy and suddenly it started to rain. It pounded on the metal roof drowning out everything for a short time but it was one of those rains that didn’t count as a ‘real’ rain because it didn’t last long enough to soften the earth for planting. They knew that they didn’t plant until after the second real rain because they wanted to be sure that the seed would survive in the earth. These women were itching to plant, you could see it in their eyes, but they waited. I remember speaking to them on that day about planting. I didn’t know anything about planting but I recognized in that moment what an act of faith planting these seeds was. I can’t even imagine putting into the ground something these women could grind into flour or pound into a paste for dinner for their children that very evening. But they guarded these seeds through the hard times in an act of faith. They knew that God would provide for them. God always does.

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Every Village Has One

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

I had been in Lui about a month when people talked about the “mad woman” who had come into the compound during the night. The young men had to drag her bodily away from near where I was sleeping but, so accustomed was I to cries in the night, I had not noticed. I heard the wailing cries that announced that someone had died in the hospital many times in that month so I had not noticed Kozo’s cries in the dark, they were so similar to the sounds of mourning.

Kozo was famous for wreaking havoc in the market by turning over tables when people refused to buy locally-made beer for her for her and for resisting the efforts of those who would try to restrain her. They said she bit and scratched. One morning she came into church dressed in her best clothes and wearing a hat over her near-bald head. She was yelling, saying that she had come to church and was bringing an offering even though nobody thought she was good enough to be there. She stood in front of the chancel and threw coins at the preacher’s feet and then demanded that the preacher pick them up. Young men came to drag her out of the cathedral but we could hear her screams for many minutes afterward. (more…)

The Day of Gunshots

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

As I have gone about preparing presentations for various Christian Education groups, I have been reviewing videos and my notes from my time in Sudan. One day stands out in my mind especially when I watched the video I took on the last day of the composer’s conference in Lui.

I went to bed on the evening of May 15th with no expectations that the coming day would be different fron any other in any significant way. I had gotten accustomed to “drunks in the market” (as the Sudanese said) shooting into the air during the night. They didn’t wake me very often now. And, since they were flogged if they were caught, they didn’t shoot so much anymore. I was getting ready to return home and I had survived the challenges of the previous five months so I wasn’t expecting anything surprising. Nobody bothered to warn me, either. The Sudanese didn’t ever want to worry me so would just forget to tell me about things like rumored attacks until after the fact. I settled down to sleep just like every other night.

At about 2 AM, gunshots rung out from the north. It sounded different somehow. It was coordinated and more than just one drunk in the market. About ten minutes later, there was another round of shooting that sounded the same but this shooting came from the south! Now I’m thinking, “This could be serious.” Could this just be random shooting or could there be fighting toward the west between two groups? I had no way of knowing but I did know that there were groups fighting in the area–one group in particular was attacking non-government organizations to steal their communications devices. My mind took that idea and ran with it! (more…)

Thanks be to God!

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

My first night in Lui was pretty scary. Not only was I in a new place with people I didn’t know but there had been a very shocking incident on the day I had arrived so the gunshots I heard in the night kept me awake awaiting for whatever might happen. There was tribal conflict and people had wasted no time telling me what retaliations had happened in the past so I stayed awake, huddled under the mosquito net, listening to all the unfamiliar sounds in the night. I think I dozed off about three in the morning only to be startled awake by a rooster crowing, “COCK-A-DOODLE-DO!” right under the open window of my mud hut.

Now, I had lived in the country and I knew there were roosters in Lui–there were roosters running all around when I arrived–so I expected an avian alarm clock but I was startled when I was awakened after sleeping only half an hour! Crazy rooster! Didn’t this dumb bird know what time it was? Then I heard them…hundreds of roosters responding to this guy and they all started with the “Cock-a-doodle-do!” in response to my neighbor bird. They seemed to be competing with each other for the title of best crower and my neighbor seemed to be winning. (more…)