Monday, May 31, 2010

Cold Weather Sundays

It has just got cold in Pietermaritzburg - I have enjoyed the mild weather we've been having and this is not nice!
The service at Brentwood starts at 9am. After rejecting my son's suggestion that I stay at home (after I told him that I was a very junior and insignificant minister at Brentwood), I arrived there at 9.05. I was glad (mostly) to find the church building open, but not surprised to find people still setting out chairs and sweeping. It's so hard to get a right perspective.
I watched them setting up - all cheerful in spite of the cold. I could be irritated by the fact that we never start on time. That they see 9am as a good time to arrive and start setting up. That we started the service with less than ten people. That the preacher arrived at 9.20. That the preacher who was supposed to be assisting by doing the liturgy didn't arrive. That the steward arrived at about 10am. That my position is difficult to understand because I am white and I don't have an adequate grasp of Zulu.
Actually, all of this probably bothers me a lot less than anyone reading this might imagine. I can actually handle it quite well. But when I'm feeling flat it is nice to write a list of woes!
On the plus side is that they are learning to accept me and I am willing to be a bit more assertive. Although the most junior minister, I was the only one there on Sunday so I could contribute a little more. I can manage the liturgy moderately well, so I stood in for the missing preacher. I was very grateful when the preacher arrived because I did not want to preach! And those who were there, were there because they wanted to be there - because God matters to them. By the time the service ended there were about 30 people in the hall - and it felt like more. And the preacher managed to be done in 15 minutes and so the service didn't finish too late in spite of the late start.
For me, this is an assignment. I want to make it ministry, to match the fact that for the people this is their church. Their opportunity to worship, grow and be together as the people of God. I don't appreciate this automatically. I have to work on it.


Simon Thomas said...

Yes I havwe been caught like that before its always good to carry a "spare sermon" around in your pocket. If you are the only preahcer in sight, people are going to look to you bring forth the goods!

Steve Hayes said...

Sounds familiar. On Pentecost Sunday we arrived and found no one else there, so we started the service, just the two of us. It's called "African Time" or "Greek Time" depending on who is in the congregation.