Sundays are just incredible experiences and always offer something different and unique. Today, I worshiped at Ezy's home church, Bispo Escrivao Zunguze UMC. It's a suburban church, located in the northern part of the Maputo City. Since I have good internet, I should have a few photos uploaded below.
Bispo Zunguze UMC's covenant partner is Woods Chapel Lee's Summit. There are more than 1,500 members here, with between 200-250 on average attending each Sunday. Unlike some congregations here, Bispo Zunguze UMC started promptly near 8:00AM and ended at 10:00AM. While double-the-length of our USA worship experiences, there was a pretty clear purpose with everything.
How did it resemble ours and perhaps differ from other Mozambique worship experiences? In this case, the pastor, Rev. Suzana Carlota Salvador didn't preach, but was present. Like in the USA, others in the congregation sometimes guest-preach. The guest-preacher, Pedro, spoke from Isaiah 53: 1-2, 11-12. We said the Apostle's Creed, Doxology, sang hymns, had choir performances, offerings, announcements and sermons. The offering is always a highlight. With nine (9) local churches, the offering was methodical and surprised me at how efficient it was. The hymns and choir was truly heavenly-sounding, led by an acoustic guitar and a guitar used as a drumbeat.
Christmas is coming! In the announcements, they discussed how they would be performing a few baptisms on Christmas Day (Sunday) and they would be having worship experiences on Christmas Eve.
Do any pastors and church leaders out there schedule meeting immediatley after church? Not many that I'm aware of! That's because we all bail to have lunch! :) There was a UMW meeting and UMM commissioning after the service where many (150+) people stayed. This UM Men's commissioning service celebrated the work of the Men's group leadership from the last 4-years and was a baton-passing to the next. Afterwards, we fellowshiped with bread that tasted a lot like Wesley UMC's homemade Mozambican bread from communion in November and cookies (a favorite of mine!) with soda.
After the service, I enjoyed the hospitality of Ezy and his family, where we ate lunch at his home and worked on getting him an updated phone (iPhone 5S from his iPhone 4). Eldon, his son, was most helpful in this, who is furthering his education by computer science and electronics degrees. Missouri is blessed to have a wonderful colleague and family on the Mozambican side.
In other 'news' I've been able to get in a quick workout in the hotel room, which have been nice. It has been refreshing and good to do, while I know that I have the capacity of air conditioning. Speaking of that: it was 95 degrees here today, and already was 80 degrees before 8AM. I hear of snow in Columbia today!
I'm praying over Psalm 100 this evening and encourage you to do the same. How was your worship experience? Did you live into these verses in your worship experience? I know that while I tried, I believe with all of my heart that our brothers and sisters at Bispo Zunguze UMC did. In a little bit of Christmas-spirit, when reading this scripture I thought of Buddy the Elf: "The best way to spread Christmas is cheer singing loud for all to hear." Of course, this is only part of the scripture, I also am reflecting on entering church on Sundays always as thankful, understanding that God has been faithful to all Generations, and that I should treat church truly as a celebration of my love of God and his son, Jesus. I confess that there are days that I don't live into this -- and just go through the motions. I'm sure we all do. But experiencing life and church here always reminds me what it's like to be around people who believe these things with their whole being. In the developing world, often times, what do the people have other than God and each other? Do they need anything else? I'm not so sure.