-sharing reflections on what I've heard and am hearing, learned and am learning,
from voices in the Holy Land, the USA, and Rwanda-

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Notebook Entry: 6.8.17 (August Newsletter)

I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. No idea why, I imagine it happens like that to all of us once in awhile. All morning I took deep breaths each time irritation reared its ugly head, trying my best to let it go. By the afternoon I was pretty even-keeled, albeit not terribly energetic.

I walked up the steep road to the office and sat in the sanctuary of the Kigali Parish, waiting for my meeting with the Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Rwanda (LCR). I've learned that most people who come to the office for meetings first sit in the sanctuary (which also serves as the waiting room) for a time of prayer. I have begun that practice as well. Over the past few years, my personal prayer posture has begun to take the form of a basketball player anxiously sitting on the bench, hunched over with elbows on knees, hands folded out front, head bowed in deep concentration, ready for game time. Recently, a portion of my prayers have included asking God for guidance, courage, strength, wisdom, and daily pep-talks as I enter the busy months ahead. 

Today, however, something changed in both my prayer and my posture. A word popped out of my lips before I could even give it a second thought: joy. "God, grant me joy."

Something twisted inside of me. Joy!? Huh!? Why?! Joy isn't typically what wins basketball games. And regardless, this was the kind of day where I didn't really have much to say to joy. It was definitely not a player in the starting line-up.

But as I sat up, looked around the sanctuary, and opened my Bible, it was not diligent determination or intense focus that came my way. Rather, joy began to flood my senses. And as it did, I thought about the YAGM who served in Rwanda and those who will soon arrive. I thought about the communities of the LCR I have yet to meet and the possibilities that lie ahead. I thought about the communities who have prepared me for such a ministry as this. I thought about the wonders of God's crazy beautiful and chaotic creation.

And it was with this unbridled sense of joy washing over me that I entered the meeting space. Bishop Mugabo and I shared in exciting conversation, brainstorming about our work together and beginning preparations for the six YAGM preparing to come to Rwanda in late August. We spoke of new opportunities for the coming years and reflected on the months of work ahead. In the midst of our diligent focus, joy permeated the room and our meeting time ended with prayers of supplication and thanksgiving.

Ask me how this all transpired and I'll be the first to tell you, it was by no means of my own. The Spirit intercedes for us with joy too great for words to express.

Today, I was humbled to receive a wellspring of grace and enthusiasm at a moment when my grumpy, dried-up bones needed it most. Today, I give God thanks for the intercessions of the Holy Spirit. And today I'm reminded once again that I am a beloved (even when I'm irritable) child of God, and but one part of a much larger body of Christ in the world. And that, I believe, is grace, mercy, peace, and joy come down.