Yesterday I went off to the little church called Brentwood in a relaxed mode - I wasn't preaching, or leading liturgy and the weather was warm and summery. However, the gate was locked and the place deserted. I went for a drive through Howick and came back 20 minutes later - still nothing, just one lady who flagged me down in the street to ask what was happening. This is Africa. It is only the second time that it has happened to me this year - in most ways I am not stressed. But three things that I observed.
The first was my feelings. I was a bit angry because I could have done other things that morning. I had to make arrangements for my kids to be looked after, I'd put people out. But it was also nice not to have to sit through a long service in a language I didn't understand on a summer's day. As I drove back for the second time I couldn't tell whether I was hoping for people or no people. I'm not sure that this says good things about my commitment to the place.
The second was about respecting other people. Mvume Dandala asked a question in our colloquium last week which was phrased around the idea of black people suffering from self-hate and a sense of inadequacy as a result of apartheid. That is undoubtedly true, but the lady who was hoping to find the church happening on Sunday could feel that same sense of self-hate and inadequacy - from her treatment by the church. And maybe I should have been more assertive there.
Thirdly driving through both Howick and Hilton (I was too late to go to service there, although I thought I might) it was good to see that most churches had full parking lots and a good overflow. One might be inclined to think that more people would go to church if there was more parking.
I must admit that I really enjoyed my drive around Hilton and Cedara - it was a sort of a Sabbath for me.