Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Kenya (5)

Sunday was a big day for our party as we visited St Thomas' Cathedral, Kerugoya for their morning services and then said goodbye to our friends at the church. I was to preach at the 9am service in English and then we planned to stay for part of the Kikuyu service before heading to Samburu Game Reserve for some rest and relaxation.

The 9am service began by following a worship liturgy very similar to Common Worship. As the service progressed the ministry team and members of the congregation led 'presentations'; times of singing and prayer in thanksgiving to God. The choir, having been congratulated for winning the choir competition the day before, were on good form and despite the number of people leading the worship there was a natural flow to the service. Our party were introduced and then spoke briefly about our visit before teaching the congregation an action chorus which seemed to go down well. We also presented various gifts to the cathedral and to the Provost who has been such a gracious and flexible host. My sermon was on the theme of thanksgiving, based on 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 and drawing on the many experiences of our visit to give thanks for the life and witness of the Christians in Kirinyaga diocese and at St Thomas'. Above all I focused on giving thanks for the grace of God which had drawn us together as partners in the gospel. At the beginning of the service there were very few in the congregation but by about half way through the cathedral was full with about 1,000 worshippers. The service lasted over two hours, but this turned out to be only a taste of what was to follow.

After a cup of Kenyan tea, which included sausage, egg, and jam sandwiches as well as the tea, it was back into the cathedral to experience the Kikuyu service. Again the church filled up over the first half hour or so and we were grateful to members of the ministry team who translated the worship as it went along. Then the service took an unexpected course. A couple had brought their recently born child to church to gives thanks for a safe delivery after the mother had suffered a stroke during pregnancy. Mother and child were both well and so they came to the front of church with the father and were joined by friends and family to sing a song of praise and thanksgiving. Provost Winnifred then turned to me and asked me to bless the child and pray for the parents. I was delighted to do so and held baby Edna as I prayed. During the next hymn the Provost whispered to me ' can you remember the prayer to bless the water for baptism?'. I said yes and then was told I was going to baptise the baby! So we headed over to the Font and I baptised baby Edna. I'm not sure who was most surprised by the turn of events but what a joy and privilege to be asked to share in this wonderful celebration. Shortly after we were led by the choir out of the cathedral to the car park and I was asked to plant a tree as a sign of the developing partnership between St. Thomas' Cathedral and our own church, St. Mary's.

While the Kikuyu service continued for another hour or so we joined the cathedral church council members for lunch and to chat about the way ahead for exploring a possible partnership between our churches. Then it was time to jump in the van and head off on the four hour journey north of Mt Kenya to Samburu Game Reserve. I thought I might catch up on some sleep, however, there was too much to look at and take in as we made our way from Embu to the reserve. We arrived at Samburu at the ideal time for a game drive before rolling up at the Samburu Game Lodge just as the heavens opened and there was a torrential downpour.

What an amazing day, full of unexpected moments and with so many things for which to give thanks to God.

Bwana apewe sifa! Niwega nathwani!

- posted from my iPad using Blogsy from Samburu Game Reserve.

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