Wednesday, May 2, 2018

“Saints cannot exist without a community, as they require, like all of us, nurturance by a people who, while often unfaithful, preserve the habits necessary to learn the story of God.” ― Stanley Hauerwas

               We have long enjoyed the company of other missionaries from the very first day we arrived to the present.  Sadly, many of the missionaries here now are leaving.  A new government law prohibits home schooling, so most of those who have been here a long time but have school-age children are leaving—for good.  We will carry on, of course, but we will dearly miss their company.  This brings me, of course, to cell phones.
              There is probably nothing that is owned by more people all over the world than a cell phone.  We see Masaai warriors pull them out of their traditional robes while holding a spear in the other hand.  Everybody seems to have them.  From small children to people my age, they all have them.  I have what is called a “smart” phone which means it can do more than I know how to do—smarter than me.  The thing is that as universal as these cell phones have become, they all suffer from the same disease that makes them like Christians in at least one significant way.  Without a charged battery, no matter how smart or how expensive, the phone is pretty much worthless.  There is a whole lot of research going on to try to lower the charging time for a cell phone battery, but they haven’t gotten there yet.  The way a cell phone is like a Christian is that we, too, need our batteries recharged, and we can’t go a month in between charges if we are to remain good servants of Jesus Christ.  So how does a Christian recharge his or her battery?  Attending worship services is a good way, as is attending Bible study, Sunday School classes, or other gatherings that happen at church on a regular basis.  If you use your phone a lot, you need to recharge it more often.  Same with Christian love and action—the more you do, the more you need recharging more often.  Just serving others with other Christians is another very good way to get recharged.  You see, active Christians (and there should be no other kind) are unlike cell phones in that the more they serve God the more they charge their phones.  They are more like self-winding watches than cell phones.  Still, we all need recharging from time to time.  Some missionaries from Musoma came to visit on Sunday and brought their children.  We had a grand time, but they are going back to Australia for good in December.  We will miss them.  Which brings me to a story about a farmer—you saw that coming, didn’t you?  
                There was a pastor that went out to see an older farm couple.  It was evening on a brisk fall night and the three of them were sitting around the fireplace warming themselves as they talked.  The wife, who was a regular attender, got up to go get more coffee for them.  While she was gone, the farmer, who seldom made it to church, told the pastor that church attendance wasn’t necessary for Christians.  The pastor didn’t say anything, he just took the poker and pulled a red-hot coal away from the fire until it was all alone.  It quickly died.  Then the pastor took the poker and pushed that dead coal back up into the fire where it immediately glowed red and burst back into flame.  The farmer didn’t say anything for a moment, then turned to the pastor and said, “See you in church this Sunday, Preacher.”  Nuff said.

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