Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Wednesday

Today began with a morning Eucharist at the Cathedral. The reading was the parable of the vineyard owner and the bad tenants, who beat up and kill the messengers he sends. (Mark 12:1-12)

Having studied viticulture (grape growing) in college, I always love the parables about vineyards! But like all parables, it isn't actually about the vineyard. It is about God's love for humanity, and our determination to reject God's messengers, even Jesus himself.

How are we like the tenants in the vineyard? We probably don't beat up or kill the messengers of God, but how often do we take time to listen for that still small voice? How often are our prayers a laundry list of what we want rather than a time to be in the presence of God?

Once when someone asked Mother Teresa how she prayed, she said that she listened. And when they asked what God said, she replied that God listened too.

Today has been unexpectedly busy for me. I didn't taken any time to listen, until I sat down to write this. It is so easy to get caught up in what there is to do: Things to type and photo copy, proposals to write, budgets to finish, a tractor to order (yay!) This evening I feel the still small voice beckoning to me... come let us listen.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Tuesday

Today there was a Town Hall Peace Forum, organized by the Episcopal Church of Sudan. It was a major event, sponsored by the UN and covered by all the Juba media outlets. Christian and Muslim leaders gathered to pray for peace and to encourage politicians and voters to conduct themselves peacefully during and after the elections.

Representatives from the parties were given a chance to respond and they pledged themselves to peaceful elections.

I got drafted to take the minutes for the 5-hour event. There is nothing like minute-taking for lengthening one’s attention span!

It was so encouraging to hear people from different religious affiliations, parties, organizations, and the government, all speaking passionately about peace.

Jesus calls us to follow him, to work for justice and peace on earth. The body of Christ is alive and well in the world today, we are not alone. The battle is already won! We know the ending of the story. The Prince of Peace will reign!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Monday

I wish you all a blessed Holy Week! I’m going to try to post a reflection each day this week.

This week, we reflect on the way of the cross, as we prepare ourselves for a triumphant Easter.

We are an Easter people, forever transformed by Jesus’ triumph over sin and suffering and death. And the way of the cross quantifies that triumph.

All over the world today there are people living in hopelessness, oppression, fear, hunger, disease, depression, exploitation, abuse, neglect, pain, and addiction. Jesus is with them, and he is with us no matter what we face. He has already trod where we are going, he has already suffered what we will suffer. And he has redefined our lives. We are not citizens of this world but citizens of heaven. We have been given eternal life. But the story does not end there.

We are called out into the world to be the hands and heart of Jesus. To touch the untouchable, love the unlovable, to cross the barriers in our society and in our hearts that divide us from each other. We are called to love- no matter what! And it is the “no matter what” that defines the power of love.

On Palm Sunday, we processed into the cathedral waving neem branches we had plucked from the trees around the cathedral (not many palms around). The branches also proved useful for shooing flies during the service, and fanning ourselves since the power was off. Mama Janet, who was preaching, reminded us to open the gates of our hearts to welcome Jesus in, waving our branches and shouting "Hosanna!" And she told us, once he is welcomed, we should make him a place there so that he might stay forever.

We do not need to rely on our own strength. Jesus is with us, the Spirit is in us.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back in Juba

It has been a joyful week of re-connecting with friends and coworkers. Juba has grown in my absence. There are two new paved roads, and new billboards. There is a large new fountain. There are campaign posters plastered everywhere, heralding the coming elections in April, the first democratic elections in a generation. The Church is busy, encouraging peace during elections time.

Please join us in praying for peaceful elections!

My work this year will be similar to last. I am continuing to assist the Archbishop and the Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan to develop an agriculture department. This year I will be training someone to replace me, and hopefully implement some large-scale production projects. I’ll also continue with training of trainers, curriculum and systems development for the department, and advising the dioceses on agriculture issues.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Home Visit

I just finished a wonderful, 10 week, visit home. It was great to get to spend time with family, see friends, and visit my supporting Churches.

I want to say a special thank you to the Churches who had me for a visit:
St. Luke's, Atascadero
St. Luke's, Hollister
St. James, Paso Robles
St. Martin, Davis
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Visalia
St. Benedict's, Los Osos
St. Richard's, Lake Arrowhead
St. John's, San Bernardino
St. Francis, San Bernardino
St. Barnabas, Arroyo Grande
St. John the Baptist, Aptos
St. Jude's, Cupertino
St. Stephen's, San Luis Obispo
St. Anne's, Middletown Delaware

And thank you to my diocese, El Camino Real, for all your support and prayers!

It was wonderful to get a chance to share stories from Sudan, and reconnect with all of you.
I'm sorry that I wasn't able to visit everyone, and I hope to see you next time!

I am excited to be returning to Sudan to continue my work with the Episcopal Church of Sudan on agriculture projects.