Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Epistle Reading Mishap

My day started rather normally. The alarm went off at 7:45. I got dressed, attempted to curl my hair, brushed my teeth, and headed to the dining room to get breakfast for us all and pack our lunches. (Weekends there are no hot lunches prepared, so we pack sacklunches to eat during the noon hour).

I re-read Ephesians 4:1-7 in preparation for the scripture reading I had been asked to do at Bishop Crowther Anglican Church, where I have been attending since the beginning of March.

I don't go to this church because it's "fun," or it's "exciting" or I'm so "fed" there.  It's very formal.  It's very uncomfortable.  It's very long.  It's a little hard for me to get through the rigidity of the doctrine and the liturgy to find the message of Jesus sometimes.  But primarily I go to connect with the children from Cheshire Home who call it their home church, since it's just up the road from them. But, I also like connecting with the local community here. It would be easy to stay in our little white "bubble" floating on the sea. I find it so important to be reminded of where we are and how the people of Freetown live. For this reason, I get up every Sunday and go to local church.

Normally I attend with our Dutchy friends, Gerrit and Herma, but they are at home for a college graduation of their son. So, I was on my own.

I had promised Fatu that I would swing by Cheshire Home before heading to church so I could help her shower and get her ready. I arrived safe and sound at the home- the girls were already busy getting dressed and most had made plans to come to church today.

We walked to church and arrived at the middle of the five minute period of church bell tolling that marks when the service is starting (or, in African Time, time to get up and start making your way to church).

I got Fatu settled at the back of the sanctuary and was sliding into the back pew when "rrrrrrkkkkkkkk." I feel a tug on my skirt, and then a give as the fabric rips like a sheet of tissue paper. A nail was sticking half an inch out from the wooden back of the pew in front of us. It grabbed my skirt at pocket level on the left side of my skirt. Lovely.

I sat down to do inventory on the damage.

As the other children and teens from Cheshire arrived asked if they had a pin - you never know, right?  Well, no such luck this week.  When they saw why I needed a pin, they all chuckled and wondered what I would do. 

Since I didn't really have time to hoof it back to the ship and change clothes, I decided I'd just have to tough it out. 

When #9 on the order of events for the morning's service (9 out of 28) arrived: New Testament Reading: Tiffany Bergman, I covered my thigh with my hand and awkwardly walked to the front to read. 

I noticed upon arrival this morning that the bulletin said the scripture I'd be reading was from Ephesians chapter one instead.  Instead of living in unity and focusing on a life worthy of the calling we've received, the focus was on the spiritual blessing we have in Christ. 

I rolled with the punches, and managed to read the passage without stumbling over the words.  I hesitated at the end- what do they say in an Anglican church at the end of the New Testament reading: This is the word of the Lord?  Here ends the reading of the Word? That was the New Testament lesson?  I couldn't remember.  I went with my gut, and the congregation responded with "thanks be to God."  Phew.  I must have been at least mostly right.

I grabbed a fistful of my skirt with my left hand, my bulletin in my right hand and made it back to the last row, where 13 of my favorite Sierra Leoneans were waiting for me, stifling giggles of their own, making fun of me with my fistful of skirt.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ was the opening verse of my lesson today.  But I don't think we have to wait to get to the heavenly realms before we reap some of these blessings.  Sharing an inside joke with these precious girls was definitely a blessing this morning.

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